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Post by Redszone on Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:42 pm

WA Rugby League chairman David Hobbs has scheduled an upcoming visit to the Goldfields as part of a renewed bid to improve player development in the region.

With Perth expected to have a team in the NRL competition in 2013, Hobbs sees Kalgoorlie-Boulder as a potentially healthy breeding ground for young talent.

“Kalgoorlie-Boulder is an integral part of player development in WA and I will be coming to the city to see what we (WARL) can do to help, ” Hobbs said.

“We will have a committee meeting to make sure it’s a professionally run organisation with good policies, governance and procedures.”

Hobbs is justifiably excited about the future of the code in WA – saying he expected the proposed new team to be well supported.

“It’s exciting times for those who love the code – we are seeing an increasing amount of the age demographic 18 to 34 become followers of the game with a substantial percentage being girls, ” he said.

Perth’s inaugural NRL side, the Western Reds, exited the national competition in 1996 following a take over by News Limited.

“I want to make it clear the Western Reds did not fail – they averaged 17,000 fans at the WACA in 1996 and had 18,000 registered members, ” Hobbs said.

“They were simply a victim of the political war between News Limited and New South Wales Rugby League.”

The State Government has already come to the party, declaring they will spend $88 million on upgrading NIB Stadium.

“We also already have about four of five sponsors on board with a major sponsor potentially worth $2 million close to signing, ” Hobbs said.

He said the Goldfields and Pilbara were both important development regions, due to the fact many followers of the code worked in the mining and oil sector.

“I really think there is a link between the mining industry and rugby league, ” he said.

“We are certainly interested in supporting (mining entrepreneur) Andrew Forrest’s Generation One program, which is aimed at helping indigenous people into the workforce – it could have great benefits for our sport.”

Rob Hunt, who is head coach of the region’s State League team Goldfields Titans, said a Perth-based NRL side would be fantastic for the local game.

“It really will provide juniors with something to aspire to, ” said Hunt, who had two sons graduate to the Canterbury Bulldogs’ junior development squads.

“It’s an important stepping stone for players.”

Based on their gruelling travel schedule, Titans are widely regarded as the most isolated rugby league team in the world.

Hunt backed Hobbs’ claims – saying there was plenty of talent in the Goldfields, due largely to an influx of eastern States residents moving to WA to join the mining industry.

“There is a lot of potential here – especially with the growing number of people moving from New South Wales and Queensland to live here, ” Hunt said.

He said local officials would continue to work closely with the State body to improve the game in the region.

Aboriginal television station NITV are also due to travel to the region in May to shoot a special on the game for their show, Barefoot Rugby League.

“Former greats like Tom Curry will be coming up and it should be really good for the sport here, ” Hunt said.

“They will film a match and help promote the future of the game in our region.”

The NRL is missing Western Australian representation. The WA Reds is a MUST for 2013.

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