Rotorua athletes will have the chance to take their performance to the next level at a new specialised training facility based at Rotorua International Stadium.
The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and the Rotorua Lakes Council have collaborated to provide a new Performance and Training Centre.
The centre will allow athletes to stay in Rotorua and have access to a range of strength and conditioning equipment, nutrition advice and professional development programmes.
The Performance and Training Centre also means the stadium becomes a dual-purpose facility, making the most of a space that is under-utilised outside of events and rugby fixtures.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said the goal was to have a facility which would support the growth and development opportunities of players based in Rotorua and the wider Central Bay of Plenty region.
"We've seen the benefits of the high-performance training centre here in the Mount and what that has been able to achieve. So for us to have something that works for the Rotorua community and provides the same opportunities for our players without them having to travel, that's been something in our strategic thinking for a while.
"Hopefully it's an environment where we can replicate, to an extent, what we've got here. We're investing in staff as well, to support our rugby community in Rotorua."
He said it was great for the training centre to be based at a sports venue.
"We see the facility benefiting the development of a stronger and healthier community through the delivery of a number of programmes including strength and conditioning, nutrition, mental skills and professional development which will have a direct positive impact on the Rotorua community.
"It will also see the Rotorua International Stadium used on a more regular basis and in turn we hope this will attract greater interest from other sporting bodies both nationally and internationally.
"For us this is also another opportunity to connect and continue to develop our relationship with Rotorua Lakes Council."
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union strength and conditioning coach Brad Mayo hoped the new centre would not only improve the performance of local athletes, but also make it easier to retain local talent.
"Guys coming out of Rotorua Boys' and those sorts of places, where they're probably a little bit disillusioned with maybe having to move to the Mount for access to those sorts of things. Now they don't have to move anywhere, they can stay in Rotorua and trust that they have access to good facilities."
The Rotorua Lakes Council's sport and recreation portfolio lead, Councillor Charles Sturt, said it was great to see the collaboration taking place around the district producing positive outcomes for all parts of the community.
"It's wonderful to look back at the goals we set as part of Rotorua's 2030 vision and see them being achieved in a way that means we can support and nurture the talent of our young people.
"This dual facility means not only will we be able to provide specialised training to athletes looking to make their way in professional sport [but] that other teams and individuals will have the opportunity to get topnotch advice and support right here in Rotorua.
"It also means that we are maximising on the fantastic facilities we have here in town. We are starting to see more international games in varied sports. It really is putting Rotorua on the spot as an attractive location for the sporting industry."
Rotorua-based Bay of Plenty rugby players will be the main users of the Performance and Training Centre. This includes contracted Steamers, those pushing for selection in the Steamers, Volcanix players and those pushing for selection in the Under-19 programme. It will also be a hub for Bay of Plenty Rugby Union staff based in Rotorua. The centre will be managed by Slade King who also provides strength and conditioning coaching.
It is a multi-purpose facility and other sporting codes are welcome. Teams or individuals can access the centre by reaching out to King to organise session times and dates.