The Townsville and Districts Mendi Blackhawks pathways structure has paved the way for 12 local Townsville players to progress to the Intrust Super Cup squad for season 2019.
Hastings Deering Colts captain Samuel Martin-Savage along with players Michael Carroll, Marshall Hudson, Jayden Stephens, Solomon Vasuvulagi, Jack Glossop, Thomas McCagh and Adam Cook have all been promoted up through the Blackhawks ranks into the main squad for 2019, with each on them playing a part in this year’s Under 20 grand final team.
Cook also started the 2018 season with the club’s Mal Meninga Cup Under 18 squad, and will now finish the year off with an Intrust Super Cup contract.
Local league players have also benefited from their pathway.
Nathan Traill, Ryan Lloyd, Cody Maughan and Chippie Korostchuk all found success with their local Townsville clubs this year, and this has seen them either rewarded with a 2019 Blackhawks contracts, or presented a chance to gain one.
Ben Condon, who was also a part of the Under 20 team, will remain with the North Queensland Cowboys in 2019 and was also recently selected in the Queensland Emerging Origin Under 20 squad.
Blackhawks Football Operations Manager Adrian Thomson said he has been pleased with the results of the development of the club’s pathways.
“We are really excited about how the new development pathways structure has been working,” Thomson said.
“In season 2019, we will only have one new player at the club that didn’t play for a Townsville team this year.
“So far, eight of our Under 20s players from this year have been promoted to Intrust Super Cup and we definitely could have signed a few more if there was room.
“Each of these players we signed have been selected in the squad, not just to make up numbers, but we want them to push through and play Intrust Super Cup in 2019.
“They are the future of our club.
“Our Under 20s coaching staff did a great job this year preparing these boys for Intrust Super Cup.
“So now they have stepped up, it hasn’t been a major change for them.
“For the guys we didn’t sign, we want them to continue to play well with their local clubs, and hopefully we can bring them in at a later stage.
“This is the outcome we want.”
As a local Townsville Rugby League player who did make it in the NRL, Blackhawks Cup coach Aaron Payne can already see the benefits of the pathways available.
“It’s exciting to see so many young locals stepping up to the Intrust Super Cup in 2019,” Payne said.
“The program reduces the gap between NRL, Reserve Grade and Local League.”
“It also prepares them better, keeps them grounded and now, kids don’t have to leave their homes to pursue their dreams of playing Intrust Super Cup or NRL.”
“This year’s Under 20 boys have been training really well and have come with a great attitude.
“The quality that they are giving me is of a really high standard, and they know that if they commit to working hard at every session, there is a good chance they will debut for Cup next year.
“Then hopefully the next step after that is a debut with the North Queensland Cowboys.
“So now, the first time they put on a Cowboys jersey will be when they are making their NRL debut.
“It’s only early days, and we haven’t lost a game yet, but we are doing well so far.”