London coach Andrew Henderson has revealed his pride in the fact that a third of his playing squad consists of homegrown talent for the 2017 season, as the Broncos look to build on a promising 2016 this year.
The Broncos finished second in the Championship last season, only behind the all-conquering Leigh Centurions, before putting up a valiant showing in the Qualifiers.
Last year saw a number of the club’s Academy players make their mark in the first-team, and Henderson is keen for that trend to continue this season; with former Broncos Kieran Dixon and Michael Channing returning to the capital, London’s 31-man squad has 10 homegrown players in it.
“That’s perhaps what I’m most proud of at the moment,” he told TotalRL.
“We’re continuing to develop players within our own system and get them games. Where we’re at right now, in the Championship, there’s the threat of Super League sides luring your players away.
“But we’ve now not only got some great players of our own, we’ve got players who were here previously coming home, and that’s great for us.
“There used to be a rule that stated you had to have seven homegrown players in your squad; that’s not there anymore but we’re very proud to be going above and beyond that in London.”
2017 will be London’s second full season at Ealing Trailfinders – the ground Henderson has spoken so openly about being massive for the club in finding an identity.
Financial crises of the past and moving from ground to ground seem a thing of the past for the new-look, stabilised London – and Henderson believes the capital-based side can be a benchmark for other lower-tier sides who are struggling off the field.
“I think so,” he said.
“We’ve got realistic owners and the big thing for me is understanding where you’re at as a club. There’s no quick fix; you’ve seen at plenty of clubs who’ve tried to make it work and throw money at it – you have to seriously rebuild if you want to progress.
“It’s as much about getting it right off the field as it is on it – and what we’ve seen here in the last 18 months is that we’ve found a place we can call home: we can see an actual future here.”
And crucially, Henderson believes that the Broncos will be stronger for their experiences in the Qualifiers last year as they look to push on and reach the promised land of Super League for the first time since relegation in 2014.
“It was exciting for the club and for the fans that a number of players were able to get that level of experience,” he said.
“All the players I’ve recruited this year have experienced life in the Championship but they’ve also experienced a Super Legaue club so they know what to expect from themselves. Making the Qualifiers was huge for us moving forward.”
London’s pre-season programme begins this weekend when they welcome the Army to Ealing – entry is free of charge.