CHRIS PARKS LOOKS FORWARD TO SEEING THE STARS OF THE FUTURE
29/11 This afternoon sees the welcome return to these shores of the Australian Combined High Schools after a two year absence – a return which has all the hallmarks of a evenge mission after the England Academy took the previous two Series, one at home, the other in the heart of Sydney.
It will be no surprise if the Australian scars run deep, after all, they are the guardians of a proud tradition – one which started back in 1972, when the likes of future Kangaroos Royce Ayliffe, Les Boyd, Ian Schubert and Craig Young were amongst the stars of the very first Australian Combined High Schools Tour to Europe, demolishing all in their wake.
Since then, over thirty ex-Australian Schoolboys have made the transition to the full Kangaroos through the Combined High Schools system.
It’s a list which reads like a Who’s Who of modern Australian Rugby League Greats, with the names of Bradley Clyde, Benny Elias, Andrew Farrar, Andrew Ettingshausen, Greg Alexander, Tim Brasher, Brad Fittler and Steve Menzies accompanying those of such present day stars as Mark Gasnier, Matthew Gidley, Trent Barrett, Daniel Buderus, Braith Anasta, Jamie Lyon and Brent Tate, whilst carrying the Aussie banner into the future might well be some of the players we will see today.
It’s for those kinds of reasons why when a talent of the standing of Greg Inglis announced his elevation onto the International scene by romping at regular intervals down the left touchline against both New Zealand and Great Britain in this year’s Gillette Tri-Nations Tournament, the same Series in which fellow newcomers Brent Kite and Karmichael Hunt also wore the Green and Gold, all were marking with understandable pride, the continuation of a very distinguished lineage..
It’s a justifiably proud record which Australia has in shining up it’s best youngsters in Evolution Academy Chris Park looks forward to seeing the stars of the future... preparation for them to glitter on the big stage – but whilst the Aussies..........>>>>>>>
... >>>>>>> were busy polishing up and refining the system which has provided such bounty in the shape of so many Test players, here in Great Britain we were still searching for a route which would allow the best young players to become exposed to the finest coaching, preparation and environment.
But, after years of being on the receiving end from an array of Australian talent, Great Britain finally turned the tide with the development and the evolution of the Academy system, which is why it was entirely fitting that stepping out for the Brits this year have been products of this system – players such as Danny McGuire, Kirk Yeaman, Jon Wilkin, Sean O’Loughlin, Gareth Hock James Roby and James Graham.
Signs of a real British revival came in 2002, when a 2-0 Series victory sent the Young Aussies back home and beaten for the first time. The signs were confirmed two years afterwards, when, in a one-off collision in Sydney, England’s Academy side inflicted defeat upon the Australian Combined High Schools for the first time on Aussie soil.
So, the stage has been set, the gauntlet thrown down. And though it’s with no little pride that England’s recent victories are highlighted here, it’s done with a cautionary note.
Australia’s record at this level is an awesome one, with
the little matter of 50 Internationals played, numbering just five defeats in that total.
It’s not so much a reminder, more a statement of fact, that England have a mighty task on their hands.
The Rugby Football League then, welcomes the Australian Combined High Schools for their two-game International Series, confident not only in the knowledge that the Green and Golds could not have chosen better sporting ambassadors, but also that in the England Academy they will have worthy opponents.