FIRL have announced plans for a weekend of U18s camps in February, in advance of the expansion of league competition at that age group.
The camps will be overseen by former GB international Paul Broadbent who has worked tirelessly for the domestic cause in Italy in recent years.
“We have had a great response and commitment from the young players and their parents so far who have been prepared to travel a number of hours to get the guys to the games,” Broadbent said.
“This is the next step in our growth, as filling up senior competition from the bottom is always the way forward.”
Broadbent added, “The chance to play international rugby league is something that a number of the players hadn’t experienced and debuting and winning against Serbia at the end of last year was a great way for them to finish the season.
“We have already seen one of our U18 players make his debut in the senior men’s side, we know that the future of rugby league in Italy is with these talented young players.”
It is anticipated that six sides will comprise the expanded competition, doubling the number from last season, according to FIRL Development Officer Kelly Rollaston.
“The camps will be open to any U18 or junior players in the Torino, Asti and Brescia areas,” he commented.
“Brescia has produced the current men’s champions – the Lions – and we would like to expand into that area and have had some junior interest.
“It is also very close to Milan, Piacenza and Parma so we would expect some players to travel to the camp there.”
Rollaston continued, “Last season we had two teams from the Torino area and the Warriors XIII which was a selection from Piacenza, Milan and Bergamo in the competition.
“As well as Brescia, there is interest from second placed XIII del Ducato along with a team from the Milan/Bergamo area and possibly one from the North East zone.”
According to Broadbent, “I’m sure we can grow our game on the back of this. There is quality in the domestic games which are being played by young, eager athletes and this is going to take us to the next stage of our development in Italy.
“We are very excited by the prospect, the progress made at senior level has been superb over the last three years and we are well placed to go into our next phase”.