Reality TV is branching out from cooking shows and the search for love by targeting rugby league.
NRL Rookie launches on Tuesday, featuring 28 footy hopefuls — aged 20-28 — seeking an elusive professional contract with one of the NRL’s 16 clubs.
The cast includes four young Kiwis: Reece Joyce, Roydon Gillett, Gary-John Hill and Bronson Bernard.
The show will air on TVNZ’s “blokey” channel, Duke, just 15 minutes after it is broadcast across the Tasman.
The pressure will be on from the first show, where the talent pool will be chopped from 28 to 14.
The rookies live in a house in Sydney and undergo an intense training programme coupled with a variety of challenges to show off their strengths and ability and transform them into elite sportsmen.
As the show progresses, the rookies will be eliminated weekly, culminating in the winning hopeful netting a contract and a shot at rugby league stardom.
The off-field team guiding them on their journey includes league greats Brad Fittler, Mark Geyer and Adrian Lam — who have each battled off-field demons. A sports psychologist will also be on hand to help the rookies adjust to the pressures of trying to make the big time.
All NRL teams will have the chance to bid on the winning rookie.
Tony Iro, the Warriors’ recruitment and development manager, said the Auckland-based club would be watching with interest. “We’re looking forward to The Rookie starting. It’s great from a rugby league perspective and no doubt a lot of NRL and Warriors’ fans will tune in for it.”