Finals weekend of the Talent Development Programme’s competition phase saw whanau come from near and far to watch the hard work pay off at Cornwall Park for the TDP’s inaugural year.

Players from all corners of New Zealand, from Whangarei to Invercargill representing four hubs (Central, Southern, Northern and Counties) gathered in Auckland for the finals of the Talent Development Programme (TDP). The players had been involved in a 10 week programme which saw them cover fundamental skills, introduction to strength and conditioning and wellbeing education such as DrugFree Sport NZ, Careerwise and mental health workshops.

On Saturday, Counties fired up for a thriller game against Northern for the final of the 16s age group where Counties came out on top with a narrow 31-26 victory.

After a hard fought battle to reach the 18s final, Central fell to Northern 22-14 in a match-up that promised a lot of blood sweat and tears.

NZRL’s Talent Manager David McMeeken reflects on the programme’s inaugural year.

“Following the weekend’s final games, the programme is now up and running and a recognised layer to the NZRL pathway for these aspiring players. It has been a huge programme to get started, which has seen around 200 players involved in 10 weeks of training across the country and over 50 staff driving the TDP in their local areas,” he said.

“The programme has given those involved some learnings on how to prepare themselves for the rigours of high performance environments such as the NRL, whilst offering a viable pathway for them to remain here in New Zealand. This will in turn strengthen the grassroots of the game through retention. The TDP has provided a development opportunity for all staff including coaches, managers and strength and conditioning staff and it is hoped that they take their key learnings back to their respective clubs or regions to help with the development of the game,” McMeeken added.

Through a review involving players, staff and key stakeholders, key work-ons will be identified to help ensure the TDP goes from strength to strength in the years to come. NZRL recognises the support and financial funding from the NRL which has made this venture possible.

25 man squads for both 16s and 18s will be announced on Thursday March 29.

See results and awards below:

16s: Tournament MVP – Dayna Bidois (Central)
Northern 26 – Counties 31
Southern 18 – Central 26

18s: Tournament MVP – Brooklyn Herewini (Central)
Southern 20 – Counties 40
Northern 22 – Central 14

Northern 26 – Counties 31 – 16s

Southern 18 – Central 26 – 16s

Southern 20 – Counties 40 – 18s

Northern 22 – Central 14 – 18s