I'm not so sure we do tbh. Not to a massive amount anway There's probably at least 50-75,000 kids playing RL in Aus and NZ? (Sadly we dont know as NRL doesnt share facts anymore)For us to expand further we really need to increase our junior playing base by double at least what it is today. need far more junior coaching clinics in the school holidays.
Are you reading this you people at the ARLC?
I find it hard to believe that we cant take 10% of them to the next level, then 1% of that 5000 to the elite level then 1% of that a year (50 players) to the NRL level. (That's around 3 quality rookies a year per club making their 1st grade debuts)
I believe the opportunity, pathways and quality of coaching and jnr development is the big issue, not the baseline number of kids playing the game. When you look at our elite level U16's, U18's U20's comps/systems it hardly smacks of high quality high intensity programs. Partly as it is reliant on NRL clubs/LC funding it with whatever money they can afford so there is massive variability. seems to me its pick the kid whose already 90kg plus and see what he can do.
Example to compare is NFL. In a country with 20 times the population and double the top tier teams They have around
1million kids playing high school football
76k of them go on to play college football (8%)
around 700 of them get drafted or try out to NFL clubs (<1%)
around 250 make it to the NFl first team a year (35%) and the quality at that level is insane.