The evolution of professional rugby takes its next formative step in the Bay on Sunday with the introduction of an under-15 talent identification camp at Baypark Stadium.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union coach and player development manager Chad Tuoro said about 60 secondary school players aged under 15 years on January 1 will be put through their paces by Steamers coaching staff in a bid to find the finest talent the region has to offer.
"We sent out a nomination form asking for individual players who coaches thought could play representative rugby," said Tuoro.
"They flicked those players back, we had a look at them and then selected the group.
"In the professional game it's all about identifying athletes at the right stage of their development and for us under-15s is a starting point."
Tuoro said he believes the new initiative to be the best way to identify promising young players before the secondary school season proper begins in May.
"In my time in the area, which has been the last three or four years, this is the first time they've actually had a specific camp for these age groups for a large pool of players.
"If anything it has been for those already in the team or for the squad of one of the representative teams, so I guess it's a change in philosophy in that we want to spread the net wide in terms of our region and players, upskill as many as we can and give them the best chance to put their best foot forward for final selection."
An under-18 camp, including up to 65 players and covering physical testing as well as coaching and educational sessions, will follow on May 5.
It is hoped the move will form better relationships between players and coaches and allow for a more level playing field for those living away from the larger centres.
"We're able to instil some standards really early, for those who want to pick it up.
"For other players it's a chance to be seen alongside everyone.
"At the stronger schools everyone gets looked at, but now we can measure these guys against those from Opotiki, Reporoa or wherever, and see how they go.
"It's going to be an awesome opportunity for players to put their hands up early in the season and as a union we are providing some good opportunities for the kids to do that."
Tuoro said a mixture of established and promising junior rugby players have been selected to ensure quality players who may presently be at a slight physical disadvantage are not omitted.
The new camp is seen as the first step on a pathway that leads from under-15s to under-18s and under-20s, then on to the Bay of Plenty Development and Steamers sides.