FOOTBALLING pedigree and the Nambucca Valley seem to go hand-in-hand, with several players making a name for themselves in the sport.
Greg Inglis, Matt Gillett, Ryan Stig, Nathan Smith and Amos Roberts (Kempsey) have all achieved highly in recent years. Now, Inglis’ nephew Ulysses Roberts, and Macksville’s Jordan Moore have signed three-year contracts with the Parramatta Eels – who are well-known for their junior welfare program and development of players.
The pair are understandably chuffed, and their families are over the moon.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Ulysses told the Guardian.
“I'm looking forward to it all. Generations of my family have played football, so I’m following in their footsteps.
“I didn’t think I would reach this level yet (at 15), people have told me it would happen, but I never agreed with them.”
At just 15 years old, the pair have kicked more goals in the code than one would imagine in such a short time. They have played rugby league with Bowraville Tigers for the past six years and have both been selected in the Group 2 representative teams from the under 12s to under 15s.
They have also made the East Coast Dolphins 25-man squad for the first time this year, which they describe as a “completely different level” to regular club footy.
Ulysses recently captained the Kempsey Sharks United under 15s side at the 2016 Koori Knockout where they were runners up, and was also named in the indigenous under 16s side who will play a curtain-raiser to the All Stars in February.
And Jordan played in the NSW Combined High School Rugby League competition last year.
“I’m pretty happy and excited to have signed this contract,” Jordan said.
“Down at the trial, it was so much faster than anything we’ve done up here before. It was a big eye-opener.
“It definitely gave us a taste of what to expect. But we have to step it up now – they want us playing as much footy as possible, including school, rep, club.
“We’ll stay up here and continue at Macksville High School for another couple of years.”
Eels recruitment and retention manager Anthony Field said he had monitored both boys progress for the past 20 months.
“They participated in trials with some of the local kids, playing against other NRL development squads,” Anthony told the Guardian.
“They have been tested against my best kids in the age groups and represent a point of difference.
“Physically they are prepared, they can train and they're both good people. They right type of athlete to have in your system.
“The more they put in the more they will get out of it.”
Inglis’ manager Allan Gainey, was asked by the 30-year-old to mentor Ulysses.
“GI wanted to make sure Ulysses was looked after and in a good system where he can develop well while still at school,” he said.
“He has some great bloodlines, but he will have to work hard like all kids at that age. But he has a determination and a great, solid build on him.
“Ulysses is athletic and is in a good system at Parramatta. He will come down at least two or three camps a year.
“Having a contract will give the kid confidence, knowing he is in the system and he will have to work hard to repay them.”