Canterbury Bulldogs legend Mark Hughes delighted with Greater Northern Tigers' pathway partnership

MARK Hughes looked at Kobe Bone, Daniel Kelly and Jack Todd - and smiled.

The three teenagers, all members of the Greater Northern Tigers' juniors this season, are exactly the type of player his club, the Canterbury Bulldogs, will be helping promote through their new pathway with the GNR.

It won't be just the talented representative stars but all the players, young and old, from all the clubs in the Group 4, 19 and 21 competitions as well as coaches, too.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Bulldogs and Greater Northern Region (GNR) provides for the promotion of youngsters through pathways to reach the NRL.

It might also be a way for Canterbury also to rediscover themselves.

"We lost our culture," Hughes said.

"But, this is our culture," he said motioning to the three teenagers.

"Families and club. I love this stuff. Going out to the clubs with all these young kids and giving them guidance and training."

A former first grade star with 174 games over 10 seasons, he debuted as a lightly-framed young man.

"Kobe is just one kilo lighter than I was when I played my first, first grade game," he recalled.

"I was 77kg.

"These three boys are great kids."

He's hoping the Bulldogs can provide pathways for not only this trio but many more in the GNR.

Bone is 16, a Year 11 student at Oxley High and playing in the North Tamworth Bears under-18 side this season.

He played for the Tigers under-16s last year and played all five games for the older rep team in 2019.

Kelly is 17 and also in Year 11 at Oxley High.

He, too, played for the Tigers under-18s this season and can play prop, second-row or lock.

He started playing in the rep ranks when picked in the Tamworth under-12s and prefers second-row.

Todd, 16, hails from a family farm out near Moree.

A Year 11 Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School student, he plays prop and second-row and will be lining up for Dungowan Cowboys this Group 4 season.

Hughes has seen him play for the Tigers' juniors and thinks he has a bright future.

It isn't easy for the young players to make it through to the NRL.

"We are honest with the parents," Hughes said.

"You have to paint a true picture of how competitive it is to get to the NRL."

Hughes, himself, grew up in Beverley Hills, Sydney.

"Right on the border with St George," he said.

"Luckily we went to Canterbury schools."

His father Noel was an outstanding cricketer, who played professionally in England (Worcester) before playing 26 consecutive seasons with Petersham Marrickville.

Mark and his two brothers, Garry and Graeme (who played Sheffield Shield for NSW) got to play one first grade game of cricket with their father, too, before they all turned out for the Bulldogs in the then Sydney first grade competition.

A versatile player, Hughes played five-eighth, lock and centre for the Bulldogs and captained them on a few occasions as well.

Canterbury has not only been "The Entertainers" but maybe the most consistent with an interesting statistic.

"We've played in one of every three grand finals for the past 31 years," he said.

Also providing pathways is nothing new for the Bulldogs.

"We were the first true scholarship club," Hughes explained.

"Peter Moore and Bob Hagan started it in 1968 when the mums and dads couldn't afford it, they put the boys through uni.

"I was one of those early scholarships holders in 1973.

"My brothers (Garry and Graeme), too."