Dolphins win junior hearts
By ADAM WRATTEN
TALENTED rugby league teenager Lindsay Beckett hopes to get used to the feel of his Gold Coast Dolphins jersey.
The 16-year-old winger is one of seven players from Group 18 junior clubs selected as part of the Dolphins' first youth academy this weekend.
While he spent most of yesterday afternoon getting to know former NRL star and academy director Scott Sattler, it was also an opportunity to pull on the Dolphins top for the first time.
Tonight, as part of the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm NRL trial match he will be presented, along with the academy's 23 other members, to what should be a sellout crowd at Carrara Stadium.
In a few years' time he could be out there in the middle of the action playing with the Dolphins.
"I didn't really have a team I would wanted to play for," Beckett said.
"(Now), I would really like to play in the NRL with the Dolphins."
Sattler said the academy was an integral part of the club's efforts to prepare for life in the NRL.
"A lot of people don't understand how important junior development is," Sattler said.
"When I was at Penrith, of the 17 players we had in the grand final (2003), 10 were local juniors."
He said the club had identified the Northern Rivers and Southern division (Gold Coast to Ipswich) areas as recruit- ment bases for its academy.
Twenty-four of these players are taking part in this weekend's activities, which include lectures on life as an NRL player, skill assessments and gamespecific training.
The other Group 18 juniors are Luke Dumas and Steve Carson, both of Cudgen, Darcy Browning, of the Seagulls, Joe Thomas, of Murwillumbah, and Kurt Mulchay and Jye Hancock, of Mullumbimby.
Sattler said the club had chosen to focus on under-16 players for its first academy.
"A few of the players are already linked with (NRL) clubs," he said. "The main objective is to help their transition into the next phase in football.
"If we do get a team into the NRL then things will be different and we will start looking at scholarships."