The NRL's introductory League Stars program is already challenging rival sports for popularity, with the Normanhurst West Primary School location quickly reaching 100 participants.
A nationwide after-school initiative aimed at teaching boys and girls aged five to 12 the sport's fundamentals through non-contact drills and games, League Stars was launched in late July as the NRL's equivalent to the AFL's Auskick.
The response to League Stars has been overwhelmingly positive. Normanhurst West's sessions started on August 22 and it became the first area to crack triple-figure registration numbers.
Each Thursday for the next five weeks between 3:30 and 4:30pm, 103 kids – only three of whom have played junior league – will be split into age-specific groups with different coaches on the Normanhurst West school oval to engage in the fun.
"It's an area that has so much competition – soccer, AFL, rugby union … [But] I think there's definitely a demand for League Stars there," said game development officer Daniel Vasek, who runs the program at Normanhurst West.
"It's definitely rewarding - seeing first-generation kids playing rugby league, their parents can't really speak much English, and they're coming to a rugby league program like this.
Inside the new League Stars program
"Even the other kids who have played rugby league since they were six are enjoying it as much as the other kids who have never played rugby league before."
The Kiama and St George locations have also had more than 70 kids register for League Stars.
Vasek attributed the success to the program being a safe, enjoyable way for children to dip their toes into rugby league while playing in an inclusive social environment.
"It's gaining a lot of momentum. And what we're doing as game development officers and how we're promoting these programs is getting much better as well. It'll be bigger and better next [school] term," Vasek said.
"Just providing everyone with an opportunity to get out on the oval after school and run around and make new friends is definitely very rewarding and something that I love doing."
Tim Gee, Sydney Metro's regional game development manager, hailed the work of people like Vasek for driving League Stars forward.
"It's a massive effort … 18 months or more of planning has gone into the launch of this League Stars program to combat the Auskick for AFL," Gee said.
"It's a testament to Dan's work ethic and the way he's gone about it, getting outside his comfort zone to promote it and run introductory clinics and really get the numbers."
While League Stars' main goal is to entice participants to join a junior club, Gee said even converting kids into rugby league fans is a "huge win".
The rapid rise of League Stars may mean additional program deliverers are required, however.
"If we've got bigger numbers across the board, we're going to need more casual staff to help that," Gee said.