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Young players chasing the dream

Two elite development camps have given a host of promising under-16 and under-18 players an opportunity to impress as rugby league emerges from Covid’s lockdown grip.

The camps, co-hosted by the Auckland Rugby League and the Vodafone Warriors, brought together two registered playing groups for two-day clinics at Mount Smart Stadium, the first on December 4 and 5 and the second last Saturday and Sunday.

The next camps will be staged in the New Year as the players prepare for mini preseason competitions for the under-16s (Shaun Johnson Shield) and under-18s (Dean Bell Cup) in March.

Sky Sport Future Warriors development and pathways manager Tony Iro said these age groups have missed out on a lot of opportunities to play representative football over the past two years due to Covid-19 restrictions and cancellations.

“This is the first chance for a long time that we’ve had an opportunity for these boys to play a really high standard of footy against the best kids in their age group across the North Island,” Iro said.

The under-16 and under-18 development camp playing groups are split up into four, based on region – Tāmaki ki te Raki (north), Tāmaki ki te Uru (west), Tāmaki ki te Tonga sSouth) and Tāmaki ki te Rawhiti (east).

The groups hosted in the first weekend were the under-16 regions of north, east and west and the under18 group for south. Last weekend there were three under-18 groups for north, east and west and the under-16 group for south.

For each group, the day consisted of a health and wellbeing session before returning to the field for fitness and skill work ahead of the upcoming 2022 competitions. It presented a unique opportunity to dive back into preseason training and rugby league drills following an extended break due to Auckland’s lockdown.

The development camps resume on the weekend of January 15-16, 2022.

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