McCutcheon confident revamped development pathway will deliver better results

NSW Waratahs Elite Youth Manager Pat McCutcheon believes the proposed changes to the Australian under 20s program and development pathway will lead to better short and long term results.

Under the new proposal, the Super 20s competition that was played in February and March each year will be replaced by a National Championship, to be played over two weeks in October.

While the finer details of the tournament are still being ironed out, the October tournament would give an extended Australian U20s squad more than six months to prepare for the U20s World Cup.

The state squads would also be selected at the end of each respective club season, giving most club players at least a full season to impress coaches after leaving school.

“Essentially, everything will just be moved forward a few months, so instead of playing Super 20s in February and March, we’re playing an U19 tournament four or so months earlier and that will give the Australian U20s squad a much longer period to prepare for the World Cup. Last year, they really only had a few weeks to prepare and it’s not long enough,” McCutcheon said.

“It also gives the states more time to work with a wider group of players that aren’t in the Australian squad, so we’re broadening our base and getting a chance to work with and develop a lot more players than we have in the past.”

McCutcheon said he was hopeful NSW will send as many as three teams to the National Championship and said he preferred the timing of the competition as it didn’t interrupt the club season.

“The Super 20s competition was great, but a lot of our players ended up missing the first 6 or so rounds of their club competition and I think that’s a shame. We want our guys spending as much time at their clubs as possible and even now over summer, most of the guys are getting back for a session or two during pre season. I think that’s really important for their development on and off the field.”

The former Waratahs forward announced an extended 42 man NSW Gen Blue training squad last year. The group spent six weeks training prior to Christmas and will continue with the revamped program until mid March, before the players return to their clubs for the start of the Shute Shield competition.

“At the moment, the boys are training seven sessions per week. They’ve got four morning gym sessions, two afternoon field sessions and one education and position specific session each week,” he said.

“When the club season starts, we’ll continue with the gym sessions and add in some skills in the morning, then the players will spend the rest of the time at their clubs.”

McCutcheon said the Waratahs coaches have tinkered with the development program over the past few years but said he thinks the new program has a good balance.

“I think the program we’ve been running for the past few years has been good but we wanted to make it great. When you look at how many players we’ve been pushing through to the Australian U20s squad, in the last few years we’ve only had 4,5,6 make it. To me, that’s not good enough when you consider NSW is one of the bigger states, so that made us look at the program that we are running.”

To take a more holistic approach to the players development, the group spends one session a week in the classroom.

“The education session can be anything from nutrition to game awareness, leadership, cultural awareness or financial management. We want to give these young blokes the tools they need in their first year or two out of school.”

While the current group will continue to train through the club season, McCutcheon said players performing well in the Shute Shield grade and colts competitions will be added throughout the season.

“The door is never closed and we’ve seen over the past few years that players develop at different rates, so just because a player isn’t in this current squad, it doesn’t mean he won’t get an opportunity at some point ahead of the National Championship later this year.”

Midway through the Shute Shield season, McCutcheon said the coaches will select up to three Sydney sides to trial against one another and a NSW Country side, then select two to three NSW teams to begin preparing for the proposed National Championship in October.

2018 NSW Gen Blue U20s squad

Bo Abra (Easts) – Prop

Marco Bell (Randwick) – Halfback

Darcy Breen (Sydney University) – Prop

Jacob Bristowe (Parramatta) – Hooker

Nicholas Brown (Gordon) – No.8

Liam Cornish (Randwick) – Flanker

Ben Donaldson (Randwick) – Flyhalf

Max Douglas (Manly) – Lock

George Francis (Eastwood) – Prop

Tom Fuller (Randwick) – Centre

Ben Grant (Undecided) – Lock

Brooklyn Hardaker (Easts) – Centre

Cooper Harris (Southern Districts) – Wing

Will Harrison (Randwick) – Flyhalf

Yirrbi Jaffer-Williams (Randwick) – Wing

Tyzac Jordan (Randwick) – Halfback

Joshua Kemeny (Sydney University) – Flanker

Bayley Kuenzle (Southern Districts) – Flyhalf

Nathan Lawson (Southern Districts) – Flanker

Will Lloyd (Undecided) – Wing

Ciaran Loh (Sydney University) – Hooker

Ryan Longville (Southern Districts) – Flyhalf

Sama Malolo (Southern Districts) – Hooker

Hugh Margin (Gordon ) – No.8

Dan Matthew (Randwick) – Prop

Jackson Mohi (Randwick) – Wing

Jordan Morris (Southern Districts) – Centre

Luke Osborne (Eastwood) – Wing

Tom Osborne (Sydney University) – Prop

Eddie Poolman (Sydney University) – Centre

Cam Prince (Randwick) – Prop

James Ramm (Randwick) – Centre

Triston Reilly (Randwick) – Centre

Darcy Searl (Randwick) – Centre

Tom Silk (Gordon) – Flanker

Charlie Smith (Easts) – Flanker

Rory Suttor (Sydney University) – Flanker

Will Terry (Sydney University) – Centre

Hunter Ward (Manly) – No.8

Nick Wilkinson (Randwick) – Centre

Tom Woodcock (Sydney University) – Flyhalf

Finn Wright (Randwick) – Prop