Centre of excellence hopes for Macarthur

WESTS Tigers chairman Mike Bailey wants to better promote and retain local rugby league talent by establishing a centre of excellence in the Macarthur region.

The current NRL squad features several local players including James Tedesco (Menangle), David Nofoaluma (Ruse), Chris Lawrence (Eagle Vale), and Sauaso Sue (Macquarie Fields).

Mr Bailey told the Advertiser "the initiative still required the trigger to be pulled" but he conceded the club could not afford to ignore the expanding population in the catchment.

"The Macarthur area is an area we want to embrace more strongly than perhaps we've done in the past," he said.

"It's a growing area but it's our area.

"It's not just about us, it's about the community. Our major goal is a Wests Tigers academy in the Macarthur region."

Former Wests Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce, of Ruse, approached Campbelltown Council in 2004 with a similar proposal.

Located at the University of Western Sydney next to the faculty of health and science, a centre of excellence, Noyce said at the time, would have included a partnership with the UWS plus playing fields, offices and buildings.

But due to lack of funds the idea — estimated at about $3 million — was scrapped.

Mr Bailey said the facility can only be possible if the NRL and governments at local, state and federal levels provided funding.

"At the moment it's beyond the reach of the Wests Tigers," he said.

Campbelltown councillor Paul Lake said he would support the concept if certain conditions were met.

"No way would I support the council putting cash into it — it would have to be Wests and government grants," he said. "It's a great idea and the council may be able to provide access with land and open green space but it would be up to Wests to get the costs together."

Macarthur federal MP Russell Matheson and Campbelltown state MP Bryan Doyle said they would support the idea but would not commit to a dollar amount in terms of contributions.

"It's something I brought up when I was mayor," Mr Matheson said. "I'd support it in principle but I can't make any promises."

Mr Doyle added: "I certainly would support it. [In terms of dollars] that's probably putting the cart before the horse."

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