The three young Americans placed with an Australian rugby league club have been setting new benchmarks, literally, as they work on improving their game.
Josh Rice, Jayson Rego and Michael Garvey, who are all in the American National Rugby League’s 2012 Elite Player Pool, have been attached to the Ipswich Jets RLC in the Queensland Rugby League as part of a bilateral exchange program and it hasn’t taken long for them to make their mark.
Rice, a second-rower, has set a new club record for a clean and jerk at 125 kilos (275lbs), while Rego, a fullback/wing, has set a new club record for bench pressing 180 kilos (396lbs). Rego weighs in at just 85 kilos (187lbs).
The club’s previous best mark was set by the Jets’ former coach and Australian international Glenn Lazarus, who benched 170 kilos (374lbs).
Meantime, Garvey, a winger, has been impressing the Jets coaching staff with his speed and footwork on the outside.
“We’re more than happy with their progress,” Jets head coach Shane Walker tells WeAreRugby. “They’re very fast learners. They’re intelligent guys and are very attentive at training.”
At this stage, the three have been earmarked to turn out for the club’s Reserve Grade side, known as the FOGs team, when the Queensland Intrust Super Cup competition gets underway in March, but will have every opportunity to press for a First Grade call up as the season progresses.
Coach Walker plans to rotate all his players through the club’s three grades including Colts, FOGs and Cup squads and says there’s no reason why Rice, Rego and Garvey couldn’t make it to the top tier.
“Based on the way they’ve trained and athletically they all possess an attribute that’s really positive,” says Walker. “Rego and Garvey are agile and fast, Josh has great speed and raw power as well.
“In football knowledge they’re a little way behind the other guys who’ve been playing since they were young, but athletically they could make it all the way to the Cup side.”
The Jets also have a feeder system of teams in the Ipswich area, west of Brisbane, that compete in a local competition and players regularly move up and down between the divisions during the course of a season.