Men’s Reserves Announced Alongside New State Academy Program

MNNSW today announced its team for the Men’s Reserves division for the 2021 state program. The all important feeder team to our Opens division features a great mix of experience and emerging talent, as the state program continues to grow in depth.

The listed players are :

  • Ryan Ahearne
  • Nic Candido
  • Onisimo Dreu Baivatu
  • Scott Estwick
  • Brent Ferguson
  • Matt Gauci
  • Mitchell Higgins
  • Nick Kelly
  • Levita Levi Talolua
  • Brendan Lloyd
  • Grant Maling
  • Phil Tane

Coach Jenny Barsby signalled a change of direction for this playing group, with several years without success suggesting their preparation will change. “We know that future success in the top divisions only comes if the feeder teams are operating at an elite level. I reviewed the high performance report completed by the committee and the challenge has been put to us to up our program. Our strength and conditioning needs to be lifted to much higher levels, and we picked this playing group specifically with this in mind – a group that we know will up the ante. We know we have big names on this list, the challenge for them will be how much they can transform from great players to elite athletes as that will determine their success” Barsby said.

Barsby also reflected on the toughest selection process yet for this division, citing the strength of our growing MLeague product as one of the main reasons we are seeing more and more emerging players show up at trials. “Picking these 12 players was toughest this year as we had another handful of players who quite easily could have made the side. Whilst this is a headache for selectors, it’s great for our program and I would encourage those who didn’t make the cut to keep pushing as we can see a runway for you in future years. But the list we arrived at has this perfect mix of an experienced spine, with new injections of open level talent that we think stands our program in the best position it has been in for many years.” Barsby said.

President Clare McCabe reinforced Barsby’s vision, seeing the turnaround of the men’s reserves program as one of the most important uplifts in the overall squad so our talent pipeline is humming. “We really want the reserves division to operate at a heightened level of high performance. It should be the place where emerging talent go to develop as they push for an opens spot in future years, or where former opens player transition out of the program and use their experience to grow the emerging talent. Whether you are the emergent or the experienced player – we want to rid this division of its tag as the place where players go to take it easy, and make it very much about the place to go to grow.” McCabe said.

Bolstering this feeder groups role in cooking talent through the pathway is the launch of the MNNSW State Academy, which will be announced at Xmas and run over phase 2 and 3 of our nationals preparation. “Whilst phase 1 training up to Xmas will see our selected teams forming, our head of high performance has been using selections, squad training and MLeague to identify talent to join our new academy program. This will comprise of talent identified athletes from within our squad who we believe have demonstrated high performance qualities through this period and are on a runway to opens selection. It will also comprise of talent who didn’t quite make our squad but with opportunity are great future prospects. “ McCabe said. This group will be selected after MLeague finishes and after review of the first 4 weeks of training. The group will then act as a pool of talent for opens teams to use in match play, and may also be asked to join open teams training sessions and will have two separate academy training sessions with head of high performance for the state program Heath Brown.