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Wests Tigers is extremely pleased to see continued growth in its junior rugby league network throughout South-West Sydney in 2021, leading into the new Macarthur Conference Competition for the start of the 2022 campaign.

The new Macarthur Conference Competition, which will see Wests Tigers Macarthur Junior Rugby League, Group 6 Junior Rugby League and Group 6 Senior Rugby League, all play in combined competitions from U/13’s to first-grade next year — further building the foundation for future growth in the area and pathways through to Wests Tigers.

Despite having consecutive seasons affected by COVID, Wests Tigers Macarthur and Group 6 competitions enjoyed a healthy rise in participants throughout the year by almost ten percent, with the biggest improvement in the 13 to 15-year-old range.

At a Schoolboys level, Picton Magpies junior Aaron Keppie and Liverpool Catholic Club junior Luke Laulilii will both move into the 2022 Harold Matthews team for Western Suburbs, after strong individual seasons that culminated in NSW Schoolboys Merit Team selection.

Luke Laulilii and Aaron Keppie
Luke Laulilii and Aaron Keppie ©Supplied

Finishing the regular season in the top four, the entirety of the Magpies’ Harold Matthews spine and lock are also all eligible for the competition again in 2022 while over 500 applicants will take part in 2022 Harold Matthews and SG Ball trials in the South West.

Recent additions to Wests Tigers’ pathways program demonstrate the club’s continued efforts to strengthen its junior development network.

Matt Betsey (Head of Pathways), Brett Kimmorley (Pathways Coaching), David Fauonuku (JRL Coaching) and Kate Mullaly (Wellbeing) have recently joined the likes of Paul Sironen (Balmain JRL), Shannon Gallant (Wests & Group 6 JRL) and Fita Hala (Talent ID) in delivering the next generation of Wests Tigers talent, while the pending return of Tim Sheens from England will add further experience and knowledge to the pathways program.

Wests Tigers forward Luciano Leilua with Luke Keppie
Wests Tigers forward Luciano Leilua with Luke Keppie

Specifically in South West Sydney, the club continues to invest in a number of talented coaches blending experience, development capability and previous playing experience such as Robert Mears, Joey Saukuru, Leon Bott, Joe Galuvao and Nathan Lakeman.

Wests Tigers also enjoy a strong partnership with St. Gregory’s College and base the two Western Suburbs junior representative programs from the school with full access to fields, gym, recovery pools, rehabilitation and video review rooms.

As the 2022 season approaches, the club’s annual Brydens Lawyers Wests Tigers Academy continues to operate virtually with a digital execution of the weekly programs for the club’s elite juniors. The elite group of U/17’s and U/19’s players from Balmain, Wests and Group 6 regions started the annual academy at the beginning of June prior to lockdown restrictions before adjusting the program to virtual platforms throughout August and September.

A select number of those players will then transition into the 2022 pre-season in November with Wests Tigers as well as their respective junior representative commitments.