Using data to identify future Blues players

Published 26 July 2018

NSW Rugby League has enlisted UNE Exercise and Sports Science researchers to help scout the Origin-winning Blues of the future using emerging microtechnology.

UNE scientists have been touring country NSW rugby league academies and using the technology to monitor promising under-16 and under-18 players, to determine whether they've got what it takes to make the big time with the NRL.

What the researchers are discovering about player biometrics and kinematics - the mechanics of motion - may not only boost individual and future team performances, giving Blues fans renewed hope, but also minimise injury risks and support player wellbeing.

Dr Cloe Cummins was in the (broadcast) box seat of last year's Origin games, helping to analyse data collected by GPS tracking devices during televised coverage of the series. Her analysis added a new dimension to the coverage, revealing to viewers how far, fast and intensely (measured by distance covered per minute) players were moving.

"Now we're using that same technology for talent identification and player development, to support a coach's intuition, training program and tactical plans," Cloe said.

"The technology enables us to understand the physical demands on young players and to collect data that helps us to predict performance and avoid burnout.”

“Having this information helps us to create more effective training approaches to prepare future rugby league stars. It enables us to optimise their preparation for elite competition, improve health outcomes, and support injury management and rehabilitation."

Professor Aron Murphy, Dean of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law, noted that today's GPS trackers produce more than 100 metrics for each player per game but sports scientists, coaches and medical staff currently use just a small amount of this information.

"At UNE we are exploring new ways for data to be analysed and synthesised into a useable format, using the latest developments in modelling, machine learning and artificial intelligence," Professor Murphy said.

"Our strong research group in exercise and sports science, coupled with the university's strengths in mathematics, statistics and computer science have created an environment that I am positive will provide outstanding support to the NSW rugby league program in future."

NSW Rugby League and UNE have entered into a partnership to develop high performance sporting programs and educational opportunities for players of all levels.

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