ARU National Academy - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

ARU National Academy

ARU National Academy

The ARU has recently launched the previously announced National Rugby Academy which effectively replaces the state based academies that have been used by the Australian Super Rugby teams to secure and develop young talent.

Whilst this move was announced some time ago there has been very little detail available as to how the National Academy will work.  In this weeks G&GR Podcast we spoke to Paul Carozza who’s one of the head coaches at the Academy who explained more of how things will work.  Listen for yourself here.


Here are some of the key points we now know:

  • There are two bases for the Academy – one in Sydney and the other in Brisbane.
  • Head coaches are Nick Scrivener in Sydney and Paul Carozza in Brisbane.
  • 2012 squads have been selected and have commenced training.
  • Members of the Australian Sevens squad will also participate in the program when they are not on duty with the Sevens squad.
  • Players in the Academy are contracted by and paid by the ARU.
  • The program the players participate in is not full time which provides them with time to work and/or study.
  • The program runs for the majority of the year starting at the same time as the pre-season programs of the Super Rugby teams and concluding in September each year.
  • There are no planned matches for Academy teams with the ARU preferring to see the players playing a full season for club teams in Sydney and Brisbane.
  • There are no limits to the number of players in the Academy.
  • There are no quotas – geographical, number of players from any club or age.
  • The Academy players are also not selected to fill a number of spots for each playing position.
  • The primary criterion for selection is “whether a player has the potential to play Super Rugby”.
  • The program includes all of the components of a professional program.
  • Wallabies coaching staff will assist in the coaching.
  • A big emphasis on strength and conditioning and skills.
  • If a Super Rugby team suffers injuries to players that cannot be covered from within their own 30 man squad or their Extended Playing Squad of 5, they can request approval from the ARU to bring in a replacement player.  If approved by the ARU the Super Rugby team can source that player from club competitions or can request a “loan” of an Academy player.
  • The players in the Academy consist of players from the old state academies, schoolboy teams and club players.  Naturally, the majority of players have at one time played in the Australian schoolboy teams but the ARU acknowledges that there are players that develop after school or were missed by the system and is asking the head coaches of clubs to be proactive in nominating players for the Academy.
  • Players are on a one year contract with movements in and out of the Academy announced around September each year, although the ARU points out that movements in and out can occur during the season.
  • The ARU want to work more closely with clubs regarding Academy players and will be working with clubs on Individual Player Plans, injury management, areas of improvement for a particular player, feedback in relation to performance in games etc.
  • As the club competitions will provide the game time for Academy players, the Academy training program will be eased once club season starts to allow players to attend all training sessions with their clubs.

The initial list of players follows:

Sydney BasedBrisbane Based
Adam ColemanBlake Enever
Alex NorthamChris Kuridrani
Allan AlaalatoaCurtis Browning
Apolosi LatunipuluJack Kimmince
Ben MatwijowJarrad Butler
Ben VolavolaJay Havelu
Boyd KillingworthJoel Faulkner
Dion TaumataJP Smith
Elijah NikoKirwan Sanday
Guy MillarLindsay Crook
Hugh RoachMaile Ngauamo
Jason HaveaMatt Blain
Jed HollawayMatt Lucas
Jock MerrimanMichael Bermingham
Jordy ReidMichael Stolberg
Keliti VaingaloMitch Felsman
Liam WalkerMitch Wade
Maile LatukefuNigel AhWong
Malie HinganoPama Fou
Mark BaldwinPettowa Paraka
Michael WellsPhil Kite
Peter SchusterRuan Smith
Sam LaneSam Reiser
Sam LatinipuluScott Malolua
Sione KoloSean McMahon
Steve CumminsSimon Morahan
Tim BennettsTed Postal
Tom BoidinTim Buchanan
Tom Cusack
Tom English
Tomasi Kolo
Trent Dyer
Trent Lake
Waldo Wessels
William Skelton
Zeb Holmes
  • James

    Out of interest, how do players get picked for this? I’m an Australian living in England, and am moving back to Australia for university in 2014, and am very keen on my rugby and play to a high-ish standard, and hoping to take it as far as possible. What route do most players take to get selected into this?
    Any information is appreciated,

    (I’m not arrogant, just very hopeful)

    • Have a listen to the Podcast we posted with Paul Carozza on it, he goes over that.

      Good luck.

    • Scott Allen

      The key message we’ve been getting is that club coaches will be listened to in relation to selections in the Academy. So, choose a club with a well regarded head coach who is known to have contacts with Academy coaches and then play the house down for your club.

      • James

        Thanks so much for your help guys, that’s really useful. My uncle used to be part of the set up for both Saracens over here and Brumbies, so I’m sure he knows which clubs are good.

        Once more, thanks a lot fellas, over in England people aren’t nearly as happy to help others… miserable poms

        • Good luck James, we’ll book you in as a podcast guest in 2015 ;)

      • Jets

        Surely it is up to the Academy to build relationships with all of the Premier Club coaches so that any kid playing premier or prem colts has a chance. Otherwise every player keen to be picked up would be running off to the top clubs and the lower performing clubs will suffer.

  • Joe Mac

    That sounds pretty good. Some great players involved. From NSW look out for Hugh Roach, Waldo Wessels and Michael Wells to be playing Super XV in the next few years… Not sure about the QLD guys

  • Chig

    Any of these guys not from QLD or NSW? ACT, Vic, WA…

    • Homer J

      Ted Postal is a WA guy. Played for Uni in the WARU comp and i think was part of the Force academy.

      • Jets

        And went to Nudgee and played his junior rugby at Brothers in Brisbane.

  • Minorbird

    Interesting to note a few players who have returned from stints in league after spending their junior years playing mainly union. Could this Academy system be a way of providing clear opportunities for younger players who come out of school not sure of which direction to go?

  • Homer J

    A lot of schoolboys in those squads. The Latunipulu boys have tonnes of skill.
    I am sure the NRL teams are looking closely at those lists.

  • Army Gav

    No VIC lads that I can recognize, maybe someone else can shed some light…

  • Dally M

    William Skelton is massive kid, but he’s also being courted by Samoa to play for them so hopefully we can keep him in the Aus rugby family.

  • Shaun

    Sione and Thomas Kolo are Victorian twins that were apart of the rebel rising set up and played for Melbourne University last year.

  • Elijah Niko, from memory, played for the New Zealand Warriors Toyota Cup side in 2010 when they won the GF. This year he played in the QLD Cup for Easts. If it is the same player, its fantastic to see that the ARU have picked him up.

  • Is Elijah Niko the guys who played for the Warriors Toyota Cup side last year? I thought he had signed with the Cowboys for 2012. Fantastic buy from the ARU if it is him.

    • Maximus

      Elijah niko was going to go cowboys but his heart is in rugby, so he signed with the ARU. He originally played rugby in hawkes bay NZ as a youngster.

  • Great article Scott, thanks for being the first article to explain the nuts and bolts of how the new academy system will work.

    Do the ‘extended playing squad’ of 5 player from each franchise sit in the academy as well?

    • Scott Allen

      No, the EPS players stay with the franchises and train with the full squad.

  • T.Rugby

    Hi Everyone,

    Can someone please verify if this is correct?

    the Australian Super franchise ‘A’ squads will still play next year against the pacific island teams…tonga, fiji, samoa.

    and does anyone know if the part time salaries are comparable to leagues toyota cup/u20’s players?

    i wonder how recent the lists are? as it was only recently that elijah niko has signed with the cowboys

    • Scott Allen

      There are no A squads as such – last year the A squads from the franchises were drawn from their own academies.

      However, Paul Carozza told us last night when we interviewed him that he believes the franchises will be playing some games against Pacific Island nations and maybe even each other. Those A teams will be selected at the time and may include players from the Academy.

      Not sure what the Toyota Cup salaries are but we understand there is a maximum $15,000 per anum for the top players in the National Academy.

      The lists were current at 3 November so looks like he’s left since we were given the lists.

  • suckerforred

    The only potential problem that I see is that players from other states that are picked up in these squads are removed from those states. If I am reading it correct?

    What I mean is that if a bloke from Vic is selected and moves to Sydney or Brisbane then they are out of the local comp. Does that not weaken the local comp at the benefit of the Brisbane and Sydney clubs? And also the home states have to work hard to get them back again. I am glad that at least there is a squad based somewhere other than Sydney, I just wonder how it is going to effect the other competitions.

    Are they still going to have the ‘camp’ programs where school kids, in particular, are brought together for programs during holidays? The above is fine if you are going to, or can go to, school (or working or going to uni) in Brisbane or Sydney, but what about those kids in Aledaide, Perth, Melbourne, Darwin, Townsville, or god forbid Alice Springs.

    • suckerforred

      Was interrupted….

      And for the other matter is the ARU going to be missing out on guys because they can not afford to, or don’t want to, live in Sydney or Brisbane.

      • Dave

        I think that problem has existed for at least as long as rugby’s been professional: if you want to play provincial/super rugby, you really need to do it through a Brisbane or Sydney club. I have a relative who managed to crack the Queensland squad in the late 80s after playing for Qld Country, and even then that sort of thing was quite rare. Likewise, John Welborn have had to leave Perth to play top flight rugby – in fact, even George Gregan played for Randwick, and remember when Canberra had a team in the Sydney and then the Brisbane club comp?

        You do make a valid point though: it’s all well and good to have S15 teams in Perth, Melbourne and Canberra, but how could they hope to build the standard of their club comps and provide home grown players for their squads when their players with potential end up in the crucible of the old firm (Qld and NSW)?

  • Pfitzy

    Waldo Wessels is going to be a star. Snap him up now Tahs!

  • Skippy

    Although probably not practical or workable, I’d like to see some program in place to send certain players, i.e. tight five forwards over to the UK and Europe and even NZ on short term playing contracts or too attend training academies etc to experience traditional tight five forward play and improve Australia’s abiltiy to compete in the tight five, improve scrummaging and breakdown performance, awareness and skills and learn how to play different styles of rugby. This area of Australia’s game has been our downfall for a long time and needs to be addressed. I personally have a feeling this national academy will be full of spectacularly talented individuals, with outstanding ball skills and many of whom will make excellent super rugby players due to their ability to play attacking rugby, open rugby and fast rugby. I wonder how many old school big fat scrummaging props will find themselves in the academy and given the opportunity to become better rugby players whilst focussing on their specific position requirements? I’ve always said it’s easier to take a prop and turn him into a rugby player than it is too turn a rugby player into a prop.

    • Predotor

      Have a look out for the Smith twins. Loosehead and tighthead. They started their career with Western Province in South Africa. Ruan 1,90 m 122kg JP 1,87 118 kg

  • Blues recovery

    Crap program,a couple of players mentioned have turned down the invitation to stay in club rugby and super rugby teams wider training groups. Not one player in this academy capable of playing super rugby next year . Oldest player in the group is 22.
    Another NTS ego boost for blokes that haven’t proved themselves in the week to week grind of first grade rugby.

  • SuperGrover

    I’m more worried that having no quota’s for positions or caps on numbers may well be detrimental. At least if three fullbacks were picked ahead of you, and there were only three fullback contracts available, you could console yourself that perhaps there are four fullbacks running around with the potential to play super rugby, but you’re the fourth best fullback going around and there just wasn’t room for you…

    but if these national academies profess to have room for anyone with the potential to play super rugby, to me its almost the same as saying if you don’t get a contract we don’t think you have the potential… at all.

    I would be disappointed if this was the unintended consequence.

    • suckerforred

      Agreed. But I wonder if selections will be based on what is needed (or believed to be needed). That is, if it is felt that we need props then more props are selected in the squad. This will at least allow flexibility to address gaps in the player roster rather then being in the situation where we really need to develop 5 fullbacks, but can only select 3.

      I don’t know enough about all the players named to determine if this might be the case. Maybe someone else can shed some light.

  • Good rugby post, good luck with it!

  • mudskipper

    This looks to me to seriously disadvantage youth from outside Sydney and Brisbane…

    What are they doing to address this 2 pool issue?

    What are they doing to grow the standards of rugby outside of Sydney and Brisbane?

  • Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.

  • angrydog

    Does anybody know where Tom Cusack is playing in 2012?

ACT Brumbies

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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