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A RECORD 560 attendees will flood the Queensland Rugby League?s Summer Coaching Camps in Toowoomba and Townsville on Monday, December 18, some coming from as far afield as New Zealand.
While the annual camps have packed out for years in succession, slight tinkering has allowed even more participants to join in the fun in 2006.
Now seen as a rugby league institution, the week-long QRL Camps have run since 1985 when the inaugural instructors included Wayne Bennett, John Monie and Roy Masters.
Their popularity has been founded on a mix of cutting-edge education and development, combined with a fun atmosphere and plenty of variety.
For instance in Townsville, interspersed throughout sessions on league basics such as tackling and passing are curious activities like six-man thongs, carpet racing and a game called Trojan Horse.
In Toowoomba, where a phenomenal 330 players, coaches and first aid officers have enrolled, the camp?s elite development squad will undergo ?Character Encounter? sessions with military personnel.
The quality of instructors and participants remains strong, evidenced by the presence of former English Super League Coach of the Year Shane McNally and former Brisbane Broncos premiership winners Michael Hancock and Michael DeVere.
Cult identity Mark Tookey will be completing his Level II coaching accreditation in Toowoomba, having come full circle since attending the same camp as a player in his teens.
?I remember Mark coming through the development squad?actually he was in the same year as Ben Ikin,? recalls camp convenor Glenn Bayliss.
?Mark?s a thinker of the game and I always thought one day he?d make a good coach.?
In Townsville instructors will range from former ARL players Matt Parish and Don Saunders to Cape York pioneers such as Kate Field and Rod Whittle.
Listed among those to complete their Level II coaching certificate in the tropics is Anthony Kyle, the fitter from Mount Isa who has steered the Queensland Outback representative team for the past two years
His long journey to Australia?s eastern coast will be among the longest pilgrimages made for the Summer Coaching Camps.
Others willing to go the distance are Kiwis Zion Ahu, Robbie Ahu and Harry Davis Junior, all of whom intend to cross the Tasman for a QRL education.