Players from across the state work on drills at the high performance rugby camp at Rockhampton Grammar School.
Players from across the state work on drills at the high performance rugby camp at Rockhampton Grammar School. Jann Houley

Players given insight into All Blacks success at Rocky camp

RUGBY UNION: Seventy-six of the state's aspiring youngsters are getting an insight into New Zealand's rugby dominance at a high-performance camp in Rockhampton.

The players, from Townsville to the Gold Coast, were invited by Rugby Skills Academy director Onehunga Mata'uiau to the camp being run by Auckland Rugby International Academy.

They are being put through their paces by Ant Strachan, a member of the mighty All Blacks from 1992-1995, and Brent Semmons, who played first-class rugby and has coached internationally.

It is the first time the academy has brought its program to Australia and Mata'uiau said it was a "massive opportunity” for the 60 boys and 16 girls involved.

Ant Strachan, Lillian Yarrow, Evie Robertson, Zoe-Jayne Cilliers, Brent Semmons, Nicholas Mata'uiau, Griffin Keating, Onehunga Mata'uiau and Roger Hodgson at the high performance camp at Rockhampton Grammar School
FOSTERING TALENT: Ant Strachan, Lillian Yarrow, Evie Robertson, Zoe-Jayne Cilliers, Brent Semmons, Nicholas Mata'uiau, Griffin Keating, Onehunga Mata'uiau and Roger Hodgson at the high performance camp at Rockhampton Grammar School. Jann Houley

Strachan and Semmons said the young charges were very "coachable” and acknowledged their willingness to listen and learn.

Semmons said the camp focused very much on the basics.

"The kids think that New Zealand rugby is awesome because we practise these secret things but honestly it's all about just doing the basics really well, under pressure, constantly.

"It's about going through a process of how to teach and how to learn.

"We have three methods to do that. Each skill that we teach has a pre, an in and a post component to it and the way we teach it is static, dynamic and then under pressure.”

Semmons said the players were also encouraged to coach each other, which in turn made them better at the game.

He said a key principle was coopetition, fostering competition and cooperation at the same time.

Students from around the region at the high performance rugby camp at Rockhampton Grammar School
Seventy-six players are attending the high-performance camp. Jann Houley

Strachan, who comes from a teaching background, said being able to work with the game's up and coming talent was one of his primary drivers.

"We feel the sport itself has got a real soul to it. You can travel anywhere around the world and the rugby environment is very similar.

"It's about a one-team culture. We say whanau in New Zealand, family.

"There's 70 kids here from all different parts of Queensland and one of our tasks really is to bring them together as a group, to mix and mingle and become one.”

His advice to players striving to reach the elite level was to "keep learning”.

"They all have passion, they all enjoy it and fun is the most critical factor in any sport.

"I would tell them to just keep learning, writing things down, so they keep developing.

"It's about adding pieces. We're trying to provide them with the critical tools to play the game and if they have a big tool box they are going to have every possible chance of getting to that next level.”