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  1. #1
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    Default JTS to NRL; the Titans juniors transition lounge

    Hi All,

    As we know, mdrew has been doing a magnificent job of documenting anything and everything in the world of Titans junior development - so much so that he's had NRL clubs reach out to him to pick his brain. I wanted to create something that connected mdrew's information to the NRL squad, because it can get a bit murky when we're talking about Development Contracts, Train and Trials, Part-time v Full-time etc. Who are the next crop that we can expect to see joining JC, Toby & Brimmo at the top level? How far away is this "pipeline" of juniors that HS keeps going on about? How many of them are there and how many can we expect to make it? Well, hopefully I can answer all your questions in here and we can learn a bit about pathways and junior development along the way.

    It is important I do add this caveat before we begin. The reality is, the % of players that convert from star juniors to NRL players is extremely low - historically, perhaps one in each respective age group, at each club, will transition directly from juniors to NRL and go on to have an NRL career that goes beyond one contract (unless you're Penrith but we'll come back to this). Some will play Qcup/NSWCup for a few years and then find their way into a system. Others will bounce to Super League to forge a career. Having a strong junior development system not only improves your chances of developing players instead of having to rely on the market, but it brings players through that have an attachment to the club, are passionate and wanting to represent the area, have chemistry with players they have come through the system with, and hopefully will eventually choose to stay at their local club for less than they could secure on the market. It naturally improves your club morale, culture and identity, but it also vastly improves a club's ability to get the most out of a salary cap and subsequently form a stronger roster. Now of course you can't rely exclusively on your junior system to build a roster. But as I understand it the philosophy is that if you build from a junior system, and complement from the market - instead of the other way around - you'll have a much better chance of sustainable success. Look no further than the Penrith Panthers who are now having multiple NRL-quality juniors debuting every year, and you best believe it is entirely by design.

    TLDR; The purpose of this thread is to:
    -Provide information on JTS players in the U18-U21 age groups (nearing or featuring in the extended NRL squad in some capacity)
    -Provide insight on these players and in my opinion (and anyone who chooses to jump in) how far away they are from NRL
    -Provide insight into how this transition process from junior system to NRL works
    -Answer any questions about any players at this end of the pathway system, or the pathway system in general
    -Generally bridge the gap between our junior system and the NRL squad
    -Open up the bigger picture on the Titans a little bit - beyond the 80 minutes we see on TV every weekend

    A quick glossary of terms:
    -JTS = Junior Titans System (player is signed to a junior contract, anywhere from U15's to U21's). Players are involved in regular JTS coaching clinics, feature in exhibition games for Titans age group sides, etc. I'll use this term to classify a player that is in the Titans system but not full-time (i.e. not NRL eligible).
    -Development Contract = Full time with NRL, outside of top 30. Can play NRL after round 11.
    -MM = Mal Meninga Cup, i.e. QLD U18 rep comp
    -Langer = Langer Trophy, i.e. QLD Schools comp
    -HDC = Hastings Deerings Colts, i.e. QLD U21's comp (mirrors Qcup)
    -Full-time - Player is signed to a contract whereby they are either Top 30 or on a Development Contract, and thus full time with the NRL squad. PLayer is eligible to play NRL.
    -Part-time - Player is signed to a particular contract whereby they are not top 30 or on a Development Contract, but still involved with the NRL squad in some capacity. Thus as part time with the NRL squad. This is case-by-case, usually short-term and dependent on the contract but generally they still do get paid, and this is a key indicator for a junior that they are looking to expose to the NRL squad before potentially bringing them in full time. Player is not eligible to play NRL. The Titans typically use this for their pre-season train and trialists, or in-season JTS members or feeder club players that they want to get a better look at by participating in NRL sessions.

    Let's get into it
    Last edited by Hail Sezer; 31-05-22 at 01:33 PM.

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    Players U21 that are yet to debut, are JTS graduates and currently involved with the NRL squad in a full-time capacity:

    2022 NRL Top 30 (age, position, highest level played&team):
    -Jojo Fifita (19, centre/wing, Qcup Tweed)
    -Lofi Khan-Pereira (20, wing, Qcup Burleigh)

    2022 NRL Development Contract (age, position, current level played&team):
    -Tom Weaver (19, halfback, HDC Tweed)
    -Tony Francis (19, centre/wing, Qcup Burleigh)
    Last edited by Hail Sezer; 31-05-22 at 10:01 AM.

  3. #3
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    Great Thread and cant wait for the discussion and MDREW insights also. I remember MDREW way back talking about people like AJ coming through the ranks, I love the insights and then following the players development. But agree HS not all the junior stars make it to the NRL, but its always a good discussion point. Plus I must mention what Jamie McCormack has done in the last few years with the JTS program, MDREW has given some great insights into what this man has done to get to the point where we are at know.

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    ....post to be updated
    Last edited by Hail Sezer; 26-10-22 at 12:38 PM.

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    Great thread HS with a nod to mdrew for his continued efforts. Could I suggest at some stage there might a bit added about the personalities behind the scenes and how the identification and recruitment process works.
    Four reasons to escape to Queensland: Sun, Surf, Sand & the Titans.

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    Great thread, HS. Really appreciate your effort. It's a nice hit of hopium for these depressing times.

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    How would you compare Kini with the likes of AJ, JC and even De Groot?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GCTTSD View Post
    How would you compare Kini with the likes of AJ, JC and even De Groot?
    Kini is still U18 so if I was comparing them all at that same age, it'd be very close between him and AJ. Gun to my head, I'd say Keano has been the best at U18 level. Then AJ, De Groot, and then JC (who bloomed very late but really took off once he did).

    They're all very different stylistically too. Keano is a dynamic runner of the ball, great footwork, very quick with great balance and agility. Breaks plenty of tackles and hits the contact hard. Just wrecks teams with how elusive he is. Has a passing game but it's a bit off-the-cuff instead of well-timed from shape. Makes tough 1 on 1 tackles. Then De Groot at the other end of the scale is very much a role-player as a fullback. Positioning spot on, safe as houses, always finds himself around the ball, does plenty of work off the ball, ultimate support player - someone you can plug into a system and give a role and he should execute.

    The biggest question with Keano is going to be what position he settles in to. His strengths are best displayed as a fullback in juniors but I think with the right coaching many see his future as a 5/8 (and the Titans have tried to play him there for a few of their age-group JTS exhibition games).

    @mdrew feel free to jump in mate, interested to hear your thoughts here
    Last edited by Hail Sezer; 31-05-22 at 04:56 PM.

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    Excellent thread and even better project to educate the Titans fan base.

    For far far too long such knowledge is either assumed or more likely not even considered when there are discussions about our Junior set up. I'm talking top down from the NRL, QRL and clubs.

    I've already learned quite a few things already. For example I didn't know what HDC was.

    I'm all for a dose of hopium because let's face it. We come here for a positive hit of something, information, a laugh, added insight, unique take, cutting edge idea or something interesting. And I think it is good to have a more fleshed out understanding to appreciate how difficult it is to make it to the NRL and how long a journey it is.

    Having a glossary of terms is a great idea and hopefully it is the start of many more people enjoying the watching our juniors come through. Because it really is a tremendous strength of this club if we can harness it.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hail Sezer View Post
    Kini is still U18 so if I was comparing them all at that same age, it'd be very close between him and AJ. Gun to my head, I'd say Keano has been the best at U18 level. Then AJ, De Groot, and then JC (who bloomed very late but really took off once he did).

    They're all very different stylistically too. Keano is a dynamic runner of the ball, great footwork, very quick with great balance and agility. Breaks plenty of tackles and hits the contact hard. Just wrecks teams with how elusive he is. Has a passing game but it's a bit off-the-cuff instead of well-timed from shape. Makes tough 1 on 1 tackles. Then De Groot at the other end of the scale is very much a role-player as a fullback. Positioning spot on, safe as houses, always finds himself around the ball, does plenty of work off the ball, ultimate support player - someone you can plug into a system and give a role and he should execute.

    The biggest question with Keano is going to be what position he settles in to. His strengths are best displayed as a fullback in juniors but I think with the right coaching many see his future as a 5/8 (and the Titans have tried to play him there for a few of their age-group JTS exhibition games).

    @mdrew feel free to jump in mate, interested to hear your thoughts here
    Thanks it's hard not to look past recency bias with the club it it looks like the future is very promising once things finally start clicking on the field. Think this is a great idea I remember hearing about when Kini first signed through @mdrew

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hail Sezer View Post
    Kini is still U18 so if I was comparing them all at that same age, it'd be very close between him and AJ. Gun to my head, I'd say Keano has been the best at U18 level. Then AJ, De Groot, and then JC (who bloomed very late but really took off once he did).

    They're all very different stylistically too. Keano is a dynamic runner of the ball, great footwork, very quick with great balance and agility. Breaks plenty of tackles and hits the contact hard. Just wrecks teams with how elusive he is. Has a passing game but it's a bit off-the-cuff instead of well-timed from shape. Makes tough 1 on 1 tackles. Then De Groot at the other end of the scale is very much a role-player as a fullback. Positioning spot on, safe as houses, always finds himself around the ball, does plenty of work off the ball, ultimate support player - someone you can plug into a system and give a role and he should execute.

    The biggest question with Keano is going to be what position he settles in to. His strengths are best displayed as a fullback in juniors but I think with the right coaching many see his future as a 5/8 (and the Titans have tried to play him there for a few of their age-group JTS exhibition games).

    @mdrew feel free to jump in mate, interested to hear your thoughts here
    I agree that Keano is some sort of player regardless of position but like you, for me his best position at present is fullback but in NZ he played a lot of five eight. It is really a tough one in terms of best position but I could really see him flourishing at five eight alongside Tom Weaver for example who is am excellent game manager who would free up Keano to play what he sees in front of him.

    I have a huge wrap on Jaylan De Groot however and see him as a Clint Gutherson type of player and a ten year NRL player.

  12. #12
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    Keano Kini gets an opportunity to show his undoubted ability this evening when he starts at fullback for PBC SHS against Marsden SHS in Round One of the 2022 School Boy Langer Cup competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdrew View Post
    Keano Kini gets an opportunity to show his undoubted ability this evening when he starts at fullback for PBC SHS against Marsden SHS in Round One of the 2022 School Boy Langer Cup competition.
    As mdrew says, Langer Cup round 1 kicks off tonight. I'm going to post teamlists and game times below, and attempt to bold the Titans JTS contracted boys (thanks mdrew for your help in the background). Apologies for anyone i've missed, any onlookers please feel free to correct me.

    All games are live-streamed on the Courier Mail website.

    5.30pm Langer Trophy: Ipswich SHS v Keebra SHS

    Ipswich SHS: 1. Tyler Peckham-Harris, 2. Kulu Baruani, 3. Caleb Jackson, 4. Tre Fotu, 5. Anton Naiyep, 6. James Frazer, 7. Jalen Afamasaga, 15. Josiah Pahulu (c), 9. Tommy Luhrman, 8. Ahmani Leilua, 11. Xavier Sofeni, 12. Oliva Iaulualo, 13. Jack Laing: Interchange: 14. Gabriel Satrick, 16. Maaro David, 17. Cayleb Johnson, 10. Loko Tonga.

    Keebra Park SHS: 1. Karauria Stokes, 2. Munga Baruani, 3. Dorian Lotaki, 4. Taniela Mapusua-Lotaki, 5. Jeremaiah Tamepo, 6. Xavier Asi, 7. Jaxen Yow, 8. PJ Poutasi, 9. Gary Herlihy, 10. Eli Tuli, 11. Seth Nikotemo, 12. EJ Finau, 13. Arama Hau: Interchange: 14. Jodeci Letalu, 15. Jared Johnson, 16. Immanuel Kalekale, 17. Wailer Whaiapu. 18. Lokea Motufoua, 19. Jett Bryce, 20. Isaiah ***alilo

    6.00pm Langer Cup: Marsden v PBC SHS

    Marsden SHS: 1. Dominic Sandow, 2. Tuvaka Palu, 3. Devonte Vaivela, 4. Shannon Subritzky Stewart, 5. Teapo Stoltman, 6. Apa Twidle, 7. Coby Black, 8. VJ Semu, 9. Kylem Vunipol, 10. Mou Taumaletila- Maulolo, 11. Te Anau Graham-Papali’i, 12. Jieye Mauai, 13. Chris Faagutu (c), 14. Cody Hamilton, 15. Taelon Te Whiu Hopa, 16. Bailey Trew, 17.

    Palm Beach Currumbin: 1 Keano Kini, 2 Blake Forder, 3 Michael Roberts, 4 Cooper Cambey, 5 Jett Forbes, 6 Josh Lynn, 7 Zane Harrison, 8 Isaiah Scanlan, 9 Tanu Nona, 10 Reico Ratana, 11 Brady Turner, 12 Will Taylor, 13 Jackson Le Pou, 14 Bailey McConnell 15 Jac Finnigan, 16 Jaylen Taewa, 17 Cooper Wolf

    Coombabah SHS v Wavell SHS

    Coombabah SHS: 1. Shannon Donaldson, 2. Ryan McCann, 3. Kane Garland, 4. Jack McKenzie, 5. Izayah Petricevich, 6. Hunter Innes, 7. Jaxon Denny, 8. Boston Riggs-Albert, 9. Jhett Pilcher, 10. K-ci Whare , 11. Kyen Murphy , 12. Lewis Symonds, 13. Junior Filimaua, 14. Braydan Wong, 15. Dwayne Ckwan-Fuimaono, 16. Ben Roadnight, 17. Neziah Patuua, 18. Mokena Marsh, 19. Cassius Whale, 20. Tom McKenna

    Wavell SHS: 1. Ambichi, Jayden, 2. Callaghan, Joshua, 3. Hotere-Papalii, Po 4. Tuialii, Mark, 5. Tait, Tyreece, 6. Oloapu, Karl, 7. Fitness, Arthur, 8. Neemia, Damascus, 9. Murray, Bristowe, 10. Uini, Ben, 11. Iose, D’Metrius, 12. Taua, Nazareth, 13. Salei, Loto 14. Camilleri, Jai, 15. Jones, Ethan, 16. Taula, Christian, 17. Butt, Jayden, 18. Waqa, Michael, 19. Tuialii, Amos, 20. Sologinkin, Will.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Key thing to keep in mind is that those ones bolded can be anywhere from year 10 to year 12. Some of the year 12's will progress immediately to working the NRL squad next year in some capacity (you can find some of the known names in the above lists), while some of the younger ones will still have more years at school. Some will finish school and not progress from the JTS system. Others will be poached (like Michael Roberts was, thanks Wayne).

    For some perspective - 4-5 years ago, the Titans had maybe 1 or 2 contracted in each of the PBC and Keebra sides. And that would literally be it. No presence in their local schools whatsoever, let alone the Brisbane schools.

    I won't be posting team lists every week but hopefully this gives a good overview.
    Last edited by Hail Sezer; 04-06-22 at 09:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanic View Post
    Great thread HS with a nod to mdrew for his continued efforts. Could I suggest at some stage there might a bit added about the personalities behind the scenes and how the identification and recruitment process works.
    This is a great idea T. I'll probably lean on mdrew a bit for that because I'm particularly out of touch with the Northern Rivers catchment area and systems they have down there. Leave it with me.

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    Thanks for posting about the Courier Mail livestreams. It's great to be reminded.

    If we follow through with this, you'll be able to say that you saw our stars of the future playing as school boys.
    PUT EM TO THE SWORD! SHOW SOME STEEL!

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