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globalrugbyleague - Thu, 17 Jan 2008 17:57:00 GMT
AS RUGBY league in Australia celebrates its Centenary in 2008, the game’s biggest nursery is preparing to grow even more champions for the game’s future.

Home to over 12,000 registered players – more than anywhere else in the world - the Greater Brisbane Junior Rugby League expects another surge of interest when Sign-On Days commence in coming weeks.

Since season 2003 a phenomenal growth of 40 per cent in player numbers has occurred in the Greater Brisbane area.

That converts to 157 new teams or almost 80 more games of junior rugby league each week.

Among the players to come from the competition in the past decade have been current Australian captain and Golden Boot winner Cameron Smith, Dally M Medallist Johnathan Thurston and 2007 Rookie of the Year Israel Folau.

Particular growth has been seen in Brisbane’s northern corridor, where Pine Rivers now has 21 teams (8 in 2003), Aspley has 33 teams (22 in 2003), Nundah-based Norths has 18 (11 in 2003) and Narangba has 9 (0 in 2003).

On the southside, Easts Carina has shot to 27 teams (14 in 2003), Wynnum Manly has 33 sides (21 in 2003), Springwood has 14 (6 in 2003) and Browns Plains has 17 (9 in 2003).

Even smaller inner-city clubs, which have virtually perished in senior rugby league, have shown positive junior trends in recent years with Bulimba, Cannon Hill, Valleys, Brothers, Souths Graceville and Wests forging ahead through the work of dedicated volunteers.

Based at Bardon, Wests possesses an enviable coaching staff which contains State of Origin legends Tony Currie, Glenn Lazarus and Danny Moore as well as local hero Wayne Treleaven.

Of the more interesting stories in Centenary year will be fortunes of the Cannon Hill Stars, the junior club of Queensland icon, the Immortal Wally Lewis.

Dead and buried two years ago without any junior teams, foundation club Cannon Hill was resurrected in 2007 with a solitary band of Under 7s players.

Hopes are high that the club can retain the 11 hardy players from last season and attract plenty more through a new relationship with the Wynnum Manly Seagulls, the senior club with which Lewis starred in the mid 1980s. - Read More, Here