Cowboys Academy

PATHWAY TO THE TOP – developing rugby league talent in North Queensland

The Cowboys Academy, proudly supported by Toyota and the North Queensland Toyota Dealers, provides a structured pathway to support the development and transition of promising young rugby league players through the playing ranks, from scholarship through to NYC and ultimately NRL.

The Academy focuses on high-school aged players (13-17 years), with sessions run in regional centres encompassing Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Brisbane.

The Academy is strategically structured to provide:

  • A best practice system based on acquiring all the attributes required to play in the NRL
  • Access to highly qualified skill coaches, player welfare, strength and conditioning and medical staff
  • A clear pathway for athletes to build a career in rugby league

Academy participants will gain:

  • Development of core skills and game sense
  • Knowledge of best practice training techniques, strength and conditioning and nutrition
  • Support for the journey to become a professional athlete, including player welfare and life skills
  • Regular feedback and communication from academy staff to ensure targets are reached


Academy players are selected by the Cowboys recruitment manager, with the assistance of trusted local coaches, in late February/ early March of each year.

Recruitment and talent identification staff are present at key rugby league events, including:

  • Various junior league games in regional centres
  • Regional school and club representative carnivals
  • State school and club representative carnivals
  • State-run competitions (eg Cyril Connell and Mal Meninga Cups)

Players identified for inclusion are then invited to attend six academy sessions in their local area each year.


Aaron Payne, Elite Pathway Coach
Tel 0419 662 306 | Email

Clint Zammit, Recruitment Manager
Tel 0400 580 067 | Email