The excitement levels of Rugby League Brisbane's under 7 teams were off the Richter scale when putting their tackle training into practice for the first time at the weekend.
At one of the four gala days held across the city, there were plenty of smiles grinning from ear to ear as the young whippersnappers ran onto the field, beaming full of confidence in their first full-tackle outing after participating in the Tackle Ready program.
The initiative - part of the Player Development Framework - teaches correct and safe techniques through six sessions to increase player confidence and physical competence, in preparation for the tackle version of rugby league.
At the end of the program, the under 7 players begin their tackle rugby league journey, which was the case for Rugby League Brisbane juniors who were chomping at the bit to put their newfound skills into action.
South East Queensland game development manager Sarah Walker said the aim to slowly introduce tackle to the younger age groups had been an overwhelming success.
“The whole under 6 and 7 years program of introducing kids to the sport through tag before introducing one of the more complex skills of tackling is designed to build children's confidence and provide a solid foundation for them to start their rugby league journey," Walker said.
“The feedback we’re receiving from parents and coaches has been fantastic.
"There were certainly some reservations early on, but the proof is in the pudding and as seen at the weekend's gala days, we’re seeing kids enjoying the benefits of the program in their first tackle experience.”
At the Wests Mitchelton gala day, Wests Arana Hills Under 7 Red coach Leigh Parsons agreed his players had been able to build confidence from Tackle Ready.
"The way the program has been designed to be introduced in under 7s is not a bad thing for the simple reason because in under 6s, I find the kids lack in a little bit of confidence to stay in the field of play and being aware of where to run and where not to run," Parsons said.
"It also allows them to get the basics right like playing the ball, passing the ball and being onside in defence.
"So, I think bringing tackle in at under 7s is a good age to start, as they get the basics covered in under 6s before bringing in the tackle element of our game."
For Brisbane Brothers Under 7 coach Chris Yeo, he noticed how each session had made a difference to his young team.
"You can see the penny start to drop a little bit more each time we do a session," Yeo said.
"Especially with getting their head in the right position... that's something we always have continued to battle with, but the cheek-to-cheek method has been really good and they've got a bit of fun out of it as well, so it's been good.
"It's a very gentle introduction to tackle, so all the mum's and dad's out there worried about their kids going into tackle should definitely not be.
"Tackle Ready teaches them to not only have controlled aggression, but also safe tackling technique and teaching them how to fall as well.
"The whole program has been terrific."
Valleys Diehards coach Steve Brecly said he believed the proof of the program's success was clearly evident in the weekend's gala days.
"If you look at how the spectators are on the sideline, everyone is cheering and having fun," Brecly said.
"I think the first ten minutes were little bit daunting for some of our players, but once they got into it, they loved it.
"It's just been great to be on the field... I certainly enjoyed it myself."