The National Talent Squad Program is a nationally directed and delivered program conducted in each Super Rugby province.
While in past years each province has done work in this area, resources and appropriate focus on development at the Academy (18+ years) level meant the extensive work required at the next level (15-18 years) was not appropriately resourced or consistently serviced from one province to another.
The National Talent Squad undertakes this work on a nationally consistent basis, further developing schoolboy players alongside their respective school and representative programs, then feeding young players into the Provincial Academies or Super 14 Squads, on the one hand, or into the HPU Contracted Players Squad on the other.
National Talent Squad FAQs
Who are the players?
80+ players aged 15 - 18 are identified from National Talent identification (including players nominated by the provincial union) and selected in October by the ARU in consultation with the provincial union, to commence the program in November. Players remain in their home province. The numbers will differ between provinces and additional players can be added to the squad throughout the year.
Players from outside the Super 14 provinces are also viewed for possible inclusion in the National Talent Squad in the best-suited location geographically.
The National Program models for skill and strength & conditioning development are made available for implementation within programs conducted for the 15-18 year age group by provinces outside the Super 14 provinces.
What is the program?
Each NTS Program training centre provides training schedules and options that most effectively accommodate all players. The squad members do 4 (1 core, 3 individual) skills sessions per week and 5-6 strength and conditioning sessions per week throughout the year, in accordance with the National Models of skill and physical development and under the supervision of the Elite Player Development Coach and the Elite Player Development Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Where possible these are conducted at central locations in the capitals, or otherwise at satellite venues or within school or club training environments.
Players are monitored for their skills and physical development throughout the year, through testing and through observation by the appointed coaches and in consultation with school and club coaches. Country players are monitored remotely.
Each provincially based National Talent Squad assembles twice a year for a Talent Squad Camp. As well as skills, and strength and conditioning work and testing, the squads are inducted into the Career Training Scheme and other HPU initiatives during these camps. School and club coaches have the opportunity to attend these camps or training days to view various aspects of the program.
Otherwise, squad members train and play with their normal school or club teams/squads. The Elite Player Development Pathway is focused on individual training and development, leaving team skills and development to be conducted by provincial, club and school programs.
The squad members undergo testing in accordance with the National Testing Program. This is initially undertaken during the Australian Schools Championships and the Under 16 Championships, and conducted by the AIS to achieve maximum consistency. The testing is followed up during the year.
Who looks after them?
The ARU appointed an Elite Player Development Coach and an Elite Player Development Strength and Conditioning Coach for each squad located in Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra. These coaches are full-time with the respective squads, and also work with the HPU Contracted Players in that city. They coach and monitor the squad members on an individual basis, aiming to have face-to-face contact with each city-based squad member at least once a week (more if possible) out of competition season and once a fortnight in season.
These coaches also work closely with school and/or club coaches, providing all program and individual development information. Where appropriate, the ARU staff may conduct sessions for NTS players before or after school/club sessions, making it possible for the ARU staff and school/club coaches to work side by side in the development of those players.
How do the National Talent Squads relate to School, Club and Provincial Programs?
The NTS Program is designed to complement and enhance programs previously conducted in the provinces and currently conducted in the schools or clubs. It is designed to assist the best of the identified talent in the age group, not by "taking them away" from their club and school programs but by supplementing the work done in those programs. Therefore this may mean extra sessions for the NTS members.
National models of skill and physical development are available to school and club program coaches. Team training will be done in club, school or even provincial teams. However, the NTS members will be monitored by the ARU Elite Player Development Coach and the ARU Elite Player Development Strength and Conditioning Coach for that centre.
It is anticipated that NTS members will graduate through their school and club programs to their State's Provincial Academy, or, in the case of the best few of them, to the HPU Contracted Players squad, unless they have already been selected in Super 14 squads.
20 JUNE 2013
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17 JUNE 2013