A trainee accountant, a horticulturalist, apprentice carpenters and four university students are among the rising Rugby League stars named in the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year today at Rugby League Central.
NRL Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, Toyota Regional Manager, Eastern Region, Mr Bernie Smith, and members of the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year gathered to mark the latest achievements in the televised national youth competition which is unrivalled in Australian sport.
In a showcase of the success of the Toyota Cup as a development pathway since its inception in 2008:
-Ten Toyota Cup graduates have already played State of Origin and 22 have played international football for Australia, New Zealand or England (players listed below);
-Warriors and Kiwi Test prop Ben Matulino – a member of the inaugural 2008 Toyota Cup Team of the Year – this season became the first Toyota Cup graduate to play 100 NRL games. He was followed by fellow 2008 Team of the Year members Chris Sandow (Eels) and Warriors team-mate Russell Packer;
-In Round 21 of this year’s NRL Telstra Premiership, 43 per cent of the players were Toyota Cup graduates;
-In the same round, the Brisbane Broncos fielded 13 Toyota Cup graduates, with 12 of the 13 also local juniors. The Raiders side featured 12 graduates, 10 of whom were local talent, while the Warriors fielded 11, all of whom came through the club’s Toyota Cup system;
-65 per cent of this year’s Toyota Cup players are studying post-secondary school qualifications (23 per cent are studying at University, 35 per cent a Certificate II to Diploma qualification and 15 per cent are doing apprenticeships). Others are either at high school or already in the workforce;
-Of the 66 players selected in the Toyota Cup Team of the Year between 2008-2011, 56 have already made their NRL debuts.
This year’s team features five players who have already made their NRL debuts – Wests Tigers excitement machine Marika Koroibete, Edrick Lee, one of three Raiders in the side, Dragons centre Nathan Green, Roosters flyer Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the Warriors’ Carlos Tuimavave, who was selected in the team for the second time.
It also includes Bulldogs forward Paul Carter, the son of Panthers legend Steve Carter and Korbin Sims, the brother of Cowboys duo Ashton and Tariq, withTariq named the 2010 Toyota Cup Player of the Year.
The 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year is:
St George Illawarra Dragons
St George Illawarra Dragons
Michael Chee Kam
Vaipuna Tia Kilifi
North Queensland Cowboys
South Sydney Rabbitohs
“You only have to look at the highlights reel each week in the NRL to appreciate the exciting role the Toyota Cup is playing as a development pathway,” NRL Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, said today.
“The likes of Ben Barba, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Matulino and Adam Reynolds are now among the best talents in the NRL and in a few years’ time we will be talking about many of the players here today in the same way.
“Just as significantly, these players are now entering the NRL with the training and support to achieve their goals off the field as well, in their studies and in the workplace.
“I would like to congratulate the players on their selection in the team of the year and wish all the clubs that will be competing in the Toyota Cup Finals Series the best of luck.
“I also want to thank Toyota and FOX SPORTS for their ongoing support of a competition that is a benchmark in Australian sport.”
Toyota Sales Manager, Eastern Region, Mr Vin Naidoo, added: “Congratulations to all the players on their selection in the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year.
“The Toyota Cup has transformed the development of Rugby League's rising stars and provided some of the most exciting new faces in the NRL.
“Through a variety of education programs, the Toyota Cup also provides a valuable opportunity for young players to develop their careers in Rugby League beyond the game itself.
“On behalf of Toyota, I would like to congratulate the 17 players selected and wish each team all the best in their quest for Toyota Cup glory in 2012.”
Each member of the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year will receive a $2,000 education grant in addition to the grants clubs already receive for education and workplace training. They also receive a Toyota Cup Team of the Year plaque and polo shirt.
The 2012 Toyota Cup Player of The Year will be named during Fox Sports’ live telecast of the Dally M Awards at Sydney’s Town Hall on Tuesday, September 4.
Mr Gary Burns, Head of FOX SPORTS Channels, said: “Toyota Cup continues to unearth some frightening young talent.
“Ben Barba is the pin-up boy for Toyota Cup graduates and is on the cusp of winning the game’s highest individual honour in just his third full year in first grade.
“It’s a huge tick for the competition as a breeding ground for future stars and again this season we’ve seen the likes of Adam Reynolds and Konrad Hurrell make an immediate impact in their first season out of the Toyota Cup.
“FOX SPORTS has given fans the chance to follow these players through their transition to the NRL and we are proud to support Rugby League from its foundations up through our live Toyota Cup broadcasts each weekend.”
The 2011 Team of the Year: 1 Omar Slaimankhel (Warriors), 2 Dane Gagai (Broncos), 3 Konrad Hurrell (Warriors), 4 Mahe Fonua (Storm), 5 James Roberts (Rabbitohs), 6 Carlos Tuimavave (Warriors), 7 Jacob Miller (Wests Tigers), 8 Kane Evans (Roosters), 9 Kurt Baptiste (Broncos), 10 Dale Finucane (Bulldogs), 11 Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys), 12 Alex McKinnon (Dragons), 13 Tyrone Peachey (Sharks), 14 Kenneath Bromwich (Storm), 15 Tim Lafai (Bulldogs) 16 Jack De Belin (Dragons) 17 Kyle Feldt (Cowboys), John Ackland (Coach).
The 2010 Team of the Year: 1 Dane Gagai (Broncos); 2 Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa (Dragons); 3 Dylan Farrell (Rabbitohs); 4 Siuatonga Likiliki (Warriors); 5 Josh Mansour (Rabbitohs); 6 Aidan Sezer (Bulldogs); 7 Sam Williams (Raiders); 8 Tariq Sims (Broncos); 9 James Segeyaro (Cowboys); 10 Andrew Clayton (Broncos); 11 Ryan James (Titans); 12 Sam Mataora (Raiders); 13 Ethan Cook (Knights); Interchange: Brad Murray (Roosters); Dale Finucane (Bulldogs); Matt Hyland (Wests Tigers); Lama Tasi (Sea Eagles). Coach Andrew Patmore (Bulldogs).
The 2009 Team of the Year: 1 Malcolm Webster (Rabbitohs); 2 Joe Vickery (Dragons); 3 Drury Low (Raiders); 4 Taioalo Vaivai (Rabbitohs); 5 Siuatonga Likiliki (Warriors); 6 Robert Lui (Wests Tigers); 7 Beau Henry (Dragons); 8 Jesse Bromwich (Storm); 9 Travis Waddell (Raiders); 10 Trent Merrin (Dragons); 11 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sea Eagles); 12 Jake Marketo (Dragons); 13 Jamie Buhrer (Sea Eagles); Interchange Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles); Joel Romelo (Panthers); Gareth Widdop (Storm); Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles).
The 2008 Team of the Year: 1 Lachlan Coote (Panthers); 2 Jharal Yow Yeh (Broncos); 3 Justin Carney (Raiders); 4 Tony Williams (Eels); 5 Kevin Gordon (Titans); 6 Ben Barba (Bulldogs); 7 Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs); 8 Russell Packer (Warriors); 9 Masada Iosefa (Panthers); 10 John Kite (Bulldogs); 11 Joel Thompson (Raiders), 12 Daniel Harrison (Bulldogs); 13 Shaun Fensom (Raiders); Interchange: Ben Hunt (Broncos); Matt Mundine (Dragons); Jordan Rapana (Titans); Ben Matulino (Warriors).
Toyota Cup graduates to have played for either Australia, New Zealand or England: Gareth Widdop (England), Jharal Yow Yeh (Australia), Jamal Idris (Australia), Kieran Foran (NZ), Ben Matulino (NZ), Matt Duffie (NZ), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (NZ), Sam McKendry (NZ), Tony Williams (Australia), Jesse Bromwich (NZ), Daly Cherry-Evans (Australia), Josh Hoffman (NZ), James Tamou (Australia), Kevin Locke (NZ), Alex Glenn (NZ), Russell Packer (NZ), Gerard Beale (NZ), Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa (NZ), Elijah Taylor (NZ), Kevin Proctor (NZ), Bill Tupou (NZ), Shaun Johnson (NZ).
State of Origin reps: Jharal Yow Yeh (Qld), Trent Merrin (NSW), Josh Dugan (NSW), Tim Mannah (NSW), Jamal Idris (NSW), Matt Gillett (Qld), Jamie Buhrer (NSW), Tony Williams (NSW), James Tamou (NSW), Tim Grant (NSW)