Anticipation is high for upcoming Toyota Cup season

Coaches and players are already hailing this year’s Toyota Cup as the most exciting array of talent in the competition’s history as the national youth competition prepares to kick-off the 2010 season tomorrow night.

This time last year it was the likes of Daniel Mortimer, Josh Dugan, Kevin Locke, Kevin Gordon, Wade Graham, Daniel Vidot, Jarrod Croker, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Keiran Foran who were lining up in Round 1 of the Toyota Cup.

And after the most exciting build-up to a Telstra Premiership in memory, it is a new crop of rising young stars who will get the action underway in 2010, with the likes of Jake Mullaney (Wests Tigers), Jordan Rankin (Titans), Beau Henry (Dragons), Siuatonga Likiliki (Warriors), Malcolm Webster (Rabbitohs), Jay Florimo (Wests Tigers) and Josh Ailaomai (Knights) among the exciting talents set to take the Toyota Cup by storm.

“I can’t wait to see these kids in action,” Bulldogs half and Toyota Cup commentator Brett Kimmorley said.

“Each week you witness something special, their power and speed is amazing, and it’s a great chance for fans to watch some of the game’s future stars.

“At the Bulldogs we have a very exciting bunch coming through. There are some special kids there who have been in the system for a while and I am looking forward to seeing them play.”

Former Rabbitohs star and now the club’s Toyota Cup coach, David Kidwell, added: “It’s very exciting. You have all this young talent in the competition who are keen guys who just love their footy.

“I remember when I was that young, they just take everything in and train so hard.

“You have the likes of Chris Sandow, but other under 20s guys are pushing for spots in first grade, which is great to see.

“The game is getting faster and it is definitely suiting this young up and coming talent.”

Entering its third season in 2010, the Toyota Cup has surpassed all expectations to establish itself as the nation’s pre-eminent junior competition, successfully combining an elite Rugby League development program with a commitment to education and workplace training opportunities unprecedented in Australian sport.

Engineering students, carpenters, airplane mechanics, business students, postal workers and teacher aides are just some of the careers Toyota Cup players are pursuing along with their dream to play in the NRL.

Such has been the success of the Toyota Cup, NRL clubs have committed to the under-20 age limit for a further two seasons, Toyota has extended its naming-rights sponsorship and Fox Sports has committed to a multi-million dollar broadcast deal that runs through to the end of the 2012 season.

“The excitement around the start of the Telstra Premiership has been amazing and it is the Toyota Cup that will start it all tomorrow night,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

“We have enjoyed plenty of exciting football over the past two seasons but the strength of the Toyota Cup is that it is more than an elite on-field competition.

“It is a leader in terms of its focus on education and workplace training and the opportunities it provides for players to build careers on and off the field.

“The Toyota Cup showcases how Rugby League is successfully expanding from within and how the game provides a pathway for local kids to become local heroes.”

The only elite junior competition in Australia to have national television coverage, Fox Sports will continue to broadcast two Toyota Cup matches live each week in 2010, starting with Saturday’s match between the Bulldogs and Knights at ANZ Stadium and Sunday’s clash between the Titans and Warriors at Skilled Park.

NRL.com will also provide live scores, stats and weekly updates for all Toyota Cup matches as the game showcases its future stars in a competition that will continue to captivate fans throughout 2010 and beyond.