It wasn’t always easy, but Waratahs prop Matt Sandell admitted to getting a lot of satisfaction from helping a crop of budding future stars go through their paces in Dubbo on Tuesday.
Born in Wellington and raised in Mudgee, the 22-year-old returned to the central west for the first leg of Camp Waratah, a training day designed at teaching youngsters the basic skills of the game they play in heaven.
And with players ranging from the under-7s through to under-13s, the camp certainly had a bit of everything.
“You see and hear some funny stuff, but the good thing is all these kids are just mad on their rugby and they’re at different stages so you can help them all,” said Sandell, who is recuperating from a full knee reconstruction.
“It’s great because I remember even when I was a kid growing up in Mudgee there wasn’t really much like this.
“The development officers do a great job, and with so much negative talk surrounding rugby at the moment it is important to get into these grass roots regions and get the kids involved in the game.”
Sandell’s path from the bush to Australian Schoolboys level and the the fringe of Super Rugby came via his schooling at St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill, but he added the work being put in with young kids now is helping regional areas provide a good quantity of top rugby talent.
Waratahs development officer Jarrod Simpson echoed those thoughts, saying the likes of Sandell and Tom Robertson were prime examples of being able to move from the central west and reach the top of the sport.
“It’s great that we’re able to get these kinds of players involved at an early stage with the kids, and teach them the correct and safe techniques,” Simpson said.
“Aside from learning those things, the kids also see that if you put in that hard work and are dedicated it can take you all the way to the Waratahs or even the Wallabies.
“Country NSW has a rich history of being able to provide top quality rugby players, and we’re just looking to bring on the next batch of them, and it’s great that Matt can help with that.”
Another Camp Waratah clinic will be held in Orange on Wednesday.