There’s something building nicely at the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys.
And, it has a lot to do with the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League club’s junior production line, which is starting to reap the benefits of a bit of forward thinking.
Already, it’s seen the likes of Kurt Donoghoe, Tyler Doney, Ethan Campbell and Lachlan O’Brien make their presence felt in the first grade squad.
“They’re local youngsters who are all in the [senior] mix, which is great to see,” coach Phil Williams said.
“You get a lot of satisfaction when you know they’ve come through our system.
“This is my third year [at Central Newcastle].
“When I first arrived, we had limited experienced players in the side.
“So, it was through necessity that we started this pathway.
“We bit the bullet and gave them an opportunity.
“Now, Kurt, Tyler, Ethan and Lachlan are becoming first-graders and learning their craft on the run.
“They look forward to training each week.
“Every session they’re trying to improve but enjoying themselves and having a bit of a laugh at the same time.
“So, it’s all about showing them the way.
“They are having fun – that’s half of it, however they want to be here, too.
“That’s equally important.”
That quartet, along with Travhon Lemalama, will also represent the Newcastle Rebels outfit in the 2021 Tri Series when it tackles Illawarra on the South Coast on Sunday 16 May.
O’Brien said the boys were keen to continue their footballing “education”.
“It’s going really well [at the moment],” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“We’re leading the club championships and in top spot in firsts, so the guys are travelling along nicely.
“I’m really proud to be a part of the Butcher Boys.
“Even last weekend, we banded together and ‘took a knee’ to stamp out racism.
“But, most importantly, everyone’s enjoying their footy.
“It’s awesome playing first grade alongside Kurt, Tyler and Ethan with the likes of Dylan Phythian, Luke Walsh and Cam Anderson.
“Cam’s been here [at the club] a while, and Dylan and Luke have done it all (reaching the NRL).
“It’s great to learn from them and hear what they’ve achieved.
“It has inspired all of us.”
O’Brien admitted it was a “big thing” to come through the grades and play firsts.
“It’s a huge honour,” he said.
“Winning a competition would be nice.
“However, even if we take out the club championships, that wouldn’t be bad either.
“Being the strongest organisation in the Real NRL, anything like that would be great.”
With the general bye this weekend, O’Brien and his mates are ready to give their all for the Rebels.
“It’s [rep footy] part of the stepping stone,” he said.
“So, it is a bonus being picked to represent Newcastle.
“But, it won’t take away from what we’re doing here at the Butcher Boys.
“Obviously, our main focus is Central Newcastle, however it will switch to the Rebels on Sunday.”
The Newcastle juniors will also face Canberra at the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday 26 June.
NEWCASTL REBELS JUNIORS
(Coach Adam Hall): Ethan Campbell (Central Newcastle), Lachlan O’Brien (Central Newcastle), Kurt Donoghoe (Central Newcastle), Travhon Lemalama (Central Newcastle), Tyler Doney (Central Newcastle), Harrison Spruce (Cessnock), Harry Whitfield (Cessnock), Harvey Neville (Cessnock), Joseph Barber (Cessnock), Cohen Geelan (Lakes United), Ryan Potts (Lakes United), Sam Smith (Lakes United), Sione Tuitupou-Kutu (Lakes United), Callan Briggs (Macquarie), Ryan Weatherall (Northern Hawks), Carlin Pettit (South Newcastle), Tom Reynolds (South Newcastle), Zac Jones (South Newcastle), Max Buderus (West Newcastle), Pat Achurch (West Newcastle)