Local focus yields future stars
Thursday 8 March 2012 4:29 PM
With two future stars signed in as many weeks and our juniors sides smashing the competition, the Sea Eagles see plenty of potential growing in their own backyard.
Jake Trbojevic, 18 is one of the most sought-after players in the game, with rival NRL clubs lining up to knock at his door.
But the 107kg Mona Vale local wasn't tempted by all the attention, according to coaching and development manager Simon Healey.
"Everyone was after him. Even up until last week the Bulldogs were trying to get him over there.
"He's a massive kid and a massive signing but he's also dedicated and very level-headed."
Trbojevic has signed with the Sea Eagles until the end of 2014, alongside another coup for the club, 17-year-old Clinton Gutherson.
Gutherson was being chased not only by other NRL clubs but also by the ARU and the AFL, which Healey says is testament to one of the most talented athletes he's come across.
"We do stats every week on our players, taking into account involvement, runs, tackles, kicks, tries, everything," he explained.
"The highest score I've seen from a player over the last four years was about 150. Last weekend Clint cracked over 200, which is just incredible."
"Some of the tries he scores are ridiculous. I'll re-watch the video over and over and still be amazed."
Gutherson captains the undefeated Sea Eagles SG Ball side, which Healey says is enjoying the benefits of a berth of northern beaches talent, supported all the way from under-14s through Manly's development programs.
"The kids don't just all of a sudden become amazing football players. We've got a great structure and an amazing group of people who help these kids through.
"There's trainers and coaches there that work so hard and give up their time, just to see a young kid achieve their dream."
"It's all about skill, educating the kids and looking after their welfare and we're now seeing the benefits with the SG Ball side."
It's the same system that fostered rising Sea Eagles stars like Kieran Foran, Darcy Lussick and Vic Mauro as well as veterans like Anthony Watmough and Jason King.
Healey plans to highlight that pathway to aspiring local talent by showing how dedicated, hardworking players are rewarded.
Trbojevic and Gutherson got to peek over the horizon of that pathway throughout the school holidays, asked to train with the NRL side.
"Jake was wrestling with the NRL guys and throwing them around," Healey said.
"Clinton went straight into running ball work with the NRL side, alongside guys he idolises like Jamie Lyon.
"Having them encourage him and help him out has made a massive difference to his game."
With 12 local kids in the SG Ball side and a further 15 playing Harold Matthews, including Jake's talented younger brother Tom, Healey hopes that pathway to the top will soon become a well-trodden track.
Local footy fans have been enjoying the wealth of local talent as well, treated to a series of outstanding games at Brookvale Oval.
This Saturday the Sea Eagles juniors play their last home game of the regular season, taking on Central Coast at the Fortress.
SG Ball kicks off at 4.30pm, followed by Harold Matthews at 6pm.
So come down and see the Sea Eagles of the future in action.