The succesful Northern Rivers Under-18s rugby league side.
The succesful Northern Rivers Under-18s rugby league side.

Northern Rivers young guns targeted by Gold Coast

By STEVE SPINKS

GOLD Coast rugby league club football manager Scott Sattler is on the hunt ? on the hunt for talented young players he thinks have the potential to make it in the NRL when the Gold Coast re-launches its team in 2007.

And he's identified the Northern Rivers Under-18s side as one of his prime hunting grounds.

The Northern Rivers Under-18s won the NSW Country Divisional Championships in May and Sattler, who was at the Ballina Rugby League Club yesterday for a sportsmens luncheon along with Gold Coast general manager Michael Searle, believes many of that team have the skill to go further in the game.

"The Northern Rivers is one of our most important areas," Sattler said. "Football is about taking opportunities.

"We're going to offer some opportunities to some of these players."

The former premiership winning lock with Penrith said the new Gold Coast franchise was interested in about 15 or 16 players from the area.

"I don't mind mentioning names," he said.

"We've identified the likes of Harry Witt (Marist Brothers), James Rix (Ballina), Shannon Walker (Kyogle) and Cameron Gibson (Kyogle).

"These are the types of guys we are after.

"I'm hoping that in the next three weeks we'll have 15 guys locked away who would like to be part of the team."

Negotiations are continuing.

Where the newly signed talent would play next year is still up in the air, but Sattler is not too concerned.

"There is a proposed Youth Cup for 2007 which would be Under-23s," he said.

"If that doesn't eventuate, we're hoping to formulate an agreement with Tweed Heads, Ipswich and the Burleigh Bears as feeder clubs.

"The Queensland Cup is the perfect pathway to the NRL. I reckon it's the second best competition in Australia."

The most exciting aspect for the youngsters who sign with the Gold Coast this season is the chance to work with Sattler and newly appointed Gold Coast first grade coach John Cartwright.

The former NSW Origin second-rower will leave his job as assistant to Ricky Stuart at the Sydney Roosters in September.

"That's the good part," Sattler admitted. "The players will get to work hand in hand with the first grade coach of the team."

And don't think the Gold Coast are interested in players who only want to make a name for themselves before leaving to join other clubs.

"The group of players we sign have the chance of playing for us for 10 years," Sattler said.

"They could be part of a dynasty."

The new franchise has set itself the goal of playing semi-final football in its first three seasons.

For Sattler and the Gold Coast, the hunt continues.



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