Rugby Australia's High Performance team put eight Kempsey Indigenous athletes through a talent identification clinic today, as the governing body attempts to grow the game and improve the pathways for regional athletes.
The training clinic was open to all players who identify as Indigenous and are between the ages of 14-25, but the time slot of 10.30am to 12.30pm made it difficult for more numbers to attend.
However, former Australian Men's Sevens assistant coach Jarred Hodges, who is leading the project with the support of Rugby Australia and the Member Unions, was impressed with the talented locals and was glad to see four ladies in attendance.
"Owen Blair is one who stands out for us and he is already on our radar after he played for the National Indigenous side," Hodges said.
Read more: Owen Blair takes his talents to rugby sevens
"Owen has plenty of talent, speed and an ability to find the try line.
"There has been an influx of females participating in the camps. Women's rugby sevens is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and the participation numbers have been solid at every place we have been so far."
The program, which visits 22 towns over the next fortnight, is a part of Rugby Australia's attempt to unearth First Nations talent throughout regional New South Wales and Queensland.
Hodges claims it's "critical" for Rugby Australia's High Performance team to attend regional communities.
"If you look at sport historically, some of Australia's greatest athletes have come from regional communities and rugby is no different," Hodges told the Argus.
"Since the introduction of professional sport, it's been increasingly harder for people from regional areas to make a breakthrough.
"It's important for us to reconnect with regional communities and not only identify talent, but pass on knowledge to local clubs, coaches, match officials and others involved in the game to continue the development when we are not here."
At the conclusion of the tour, Rugby Australia will invite the top 130 players to fly to Sydney for a four-day camp, where their skills will be put to the test in front of a panel of national coaches.
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