The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Academy program took centre stage in Townsville this week, with a group of the region’s most promising young rugby league players put through their paces at the club’s headquarters.

The Cowboys have academies – targeting elite 14-17 year-olds – in Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Brisbane, and Monday’s Townsville session marked the conclusion of the first half of the 2015 schedule.

Twenty-five talented teens took part in the Townsville academy session, while around 110 players are part of the overall Cowboys academy program, which provides a structured pathway to support the development and transition of promising players through the playing ranks, with the ultimate goal being National Rugby League.

Elite pathway program manager Micheal Luck said the session focused on speed testing and defensive drills, and given it was the last one before the program took a two-month break, the intensity and level of effort was outstanding.

“Between our five academies, we get to see the players around six or seven times a year, and it’s a very enjoyable part of the job to go out and meet those young guys and hopefully they’re the next generation of Cowboys,” Luck said.

The academy program – proudly supported by Toyota and the North Queensland Toyota Dealers – is aimed at elite juniors, and Luck, elite pathways coach Aaron Payne and performance coach Ash Graham work with academy coaches in each centre to deliver the program.

In addition to the Townsville session, the Cowboys academy team delivered a session in Rockhampton on 14 June, and in Brisbane on 15 June, while it was Mackay’s turn on 8 June.

The second half of the academy program will be rolled out from 3 August in Cairns.