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Dual Grand Finals Highlight Strength in Roosters Pathways

The Tarsha Gale Cup and SG Ball Cup Grand Finals highlight an exciting week for the Club's Pathways system, which continues to go from strength to strength each coming year. 

Roosters Members and supporters will be treated to a total of five matches on Saturday afternoon, with both Grand Finals to be played at Commbank Stadium, starting as the Tarsha Gale side take on the Newcastle Knights at 11:00am.

Cavallaro Previews Junior Rep Grand Finals

The Women's Under 19's side will have the perfect opportunity to claim their inaugural Premiership and continue their undefeated season in style after qualifying for their second consecutive Grand Final. 

At 2:30pm, the SG Ball side will face the Penrith Panthers in their first decider since 2014 - appropriately against the same opponents - in search of replicating their 34-30 victory which saw the likes of Paul Momirovski, Connor Watson and Joseph Manu lift the cup.

Meanwhile, Accor Stadium will feature a triple-header with the Sydney Roosters Jersey Flegg and North Sydney Bears NSW Cup sides taking the field prior to the NRL match between the Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on an exciting day that will harken back to the halcyon days of Rugby League.

For General Manager of Football Programs Craig Walker, the Grand Final results - along with the Harold Matthews side finishing the regular season in second place - is a result of the hard work going behind the scenes at the Roosters.

Following a period of brief success in the mid-2010s, Walker - along with a number of pathways staff members including Tarsha Gale Cup Coach Blake Cavallaro - got to work in order to develop a new era of sustained success. 

Now the Club is beginning to see that hard work being rewarded in the form of a powerful pathways base that is primed to bring more silverware to Bondi across all levels. 

GET YOUR TICKETS TO SATURDAY'S JUNIOR REP GRAND FINALS HERE!

"It was fantastic and a good reward for what has been building for a number of years now," he said. 

"When I started in this role in 2015 we were periodically successful but had a few lean years so we worked hard on trying to develop internally.

"It's taken us a few seasons but the SG Ball side last year were Minor Premiers and fell through the semi-finals but have made the Grand Final this year and are a really good chance.

"The Harold Matthews was really exciting as it was our best-ever result coming second. We're disappointed we didn't get through on Saturday but there are a lot of homegrown juniors in that team, around 50% at least have come from the area.

Having those guys come through and learn how to compete in big games and play together in big games has a knock-on effect. 

Craig Walker General Manager of Football Programs

"When I first came in I think historically it was only about ten per cent, so we've worked really hard to strengthen all the partnerships in the junior league and the development programs to help with that.

"Guys like Blake Cavallaro are a big part of that. Bringing him on board saw us resource that area with a dedicated pathways manager and now we're seeing the fruits of that labour coming into 2022. 

"To bring in good people, good facilities and the right coaches and right people around the program hasn't had overnight, we've built it up, but hopefully we can continue our success for years to come."

Grab Your Tickets to Saturday's Triple Header at Accor Stadium Here

Walker was also quick to point out the rapid success of the Tarsha Gale Cup side, which not only featured in last year's Grand Final but has produced numerous players that have played in the Club's NRLW side.

That includes Keilee Joseph who earlier this year played an integral park in the Club's inaugural NRLW Premiership. 

The pathways staff have applied similar strategies to both the men's and women's programs, with the 2022 Tarsha Gale side yet to taste defeat in their eight games so far heading into their second decider in as many years. 

"The Tarsha Gale Cup side was brought in 2018 and we didn't win a game. The following year we won one game and then we got Blake to take up the coaching role and we've really resourced it more," he explained. 

"We've applied the same ethos as we have with the men's program, trying to bring in enough elite players but do enough training and coaching to bring all the players up to speed and propel their development.

Roosters Pathways in Motion

"Last year they made the Grand Final and this year they're undefeated heading into the Grand Final, so it's the same thing - the team features a number of girls from outside the district and from within the district.

"So it's a good mix of both and Blake has made his stamp on that space and got good people around it. Fingers crossed we can get two from two." 

With the Club's pathways system arguably stronger than ever, there is a strong belief that the success will translate to both the NRL and NRLW in future years to come.

A number of players in the Roosters' NRL squad have already tasted success in junior grades and in the NRL, an indication of a bright future on the horizon for the Club as a whole. 

"From the research we've done, if you do well in the pathways programs it usually flows onto success in the NRL program," Walker explained. 

"We won the SG Ball in 2014, then the NYC in 2016, and in 2018 and 2019 we won the NRL Premiership.

"While you might not have all of those players progress through, you certainly will have players that contribute to getting there - from that 2016 NYC team, there was Paul Momirovski, Nat Butcher, Victor Radley, Latrell Mitchell, Joseph Manu and Ben Thomas.

"All those guys know how to play together and know how to win together. Having those guys come through and learn how to compete in big games and play together in big games has a knock-on effect. 

"We're hoping to see the fruits of these teams - there are certainly potential NRL and NRLW players, and hopefully down the track in two or three years they'll be coming into the first-grade programs and having a real impact."

Live Stream Both Grand Finals Here!

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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