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Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:15 pm
Posted by phibes on Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:15 pm
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Our club seems to have a particular problem with homegrown players trying to leave fairly early in their careers to play in the NRL or RU. Phil Wilkinson made the point in his column that there seems to be a split between players who came through our academy (Burgess, Charnley, both Tomkins, Sutton and now Williams) who leave early, which contrasts with others who came from 'smaller' clubs (Flower, Clubb, Isa, Tautai) who seem happy to stay.

I realise they're all professionals who can make a lot more money playing in Australia and have short careers. There's also the issue of quality and whether they're actually good enough to warrant interest from elsewhere regardless of where they came from. But to date, Leeds and St Helens have not suffered from the same problem with respect to their homegrown players.

I just wonder what it is about our club that makes it such a problem. Do we have an issue with the player culture where the homegrown lads see Wigan RL as a stepping stone to something else? Have we put ourselves in our position where they see our club as a safety net if the move doesn't work out? Or (and I genuinely don't know) do these lads share the same agent and it's down to his network and business practices?

From a fans' perspective, it's disappointing to see players break into the first team, demonstrate their potential and then disappear a few years later. I understand that money talks and largely this is due to the economic reality of the game in Oz vs. the UK. But there are good quality players at other superleague clubs and we seem to be suffering more than most in this respect.
Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:50 pm
Posted by Cruncher on Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:50 pm
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phibes wrote:
Our club seems to have a particular problem with homegrown players trying to leave fairly early in their careers to play in the NRL or RU. Phil Wilkinson made the point in his column that there seems to be a split between players who came through our academy (Burgess, Charnley, both Tomkins, Sutton and now Williams) who leave early, which contrasts with others who came from 'smaller' clubs (Flower, Clubb, Isa, Tautai) who seem happy to stay.

I realise they're all professionals who can make a lot more money playing in Australia and have short careers. There's also the issue of quality and whether they're actually good enough to warrant interest from elsewhere regardless of where they came from. But to date, Leeds and St Helens have not suffered from the same problem with respect to their homegrown players.

I just wonder what it is about our club that makes it such a problem. Do we have an issue with the player culture where the homegrown lads see Wigan RL as a stepping stone to something else? Have we put ourselves in our position where they see our club as a safety net if the move doesn't work out? Or (and I genuinely don't know) do these lads share the same agent and it's down to his network and business practices?

From a fans' perspective, it's disappointing to see players break into the first team, demonstrate their potential and then disappear a few years later. I understand that money talks and largely this is due to the economic reality of the game in Oz vs. the UK. But there are good quality players at other superleague clubs and we seem to be suffering more than most in this respect.


It's difficult to say. I reckon it could be any one or all of those explanations you underline.

I also wonder if we just don't have as many brown paper bags to hand as some of the other clubs.

I'm certainly torn on the subject of players returning. On one hand, I'm dead against it, saying they can do one basically; if they want to go, they can go without a safety net for when it all goes wrong. But then, we did that with Charnley, and somewhat typically, he bucked the trend and has come good at Warrington (though he still can't tackle). Then you get a player like Bateman, who you can't envisage slacking off anywhere and want back at any cost, even though you don't know what state he'll be in when he does return.

I'm wondering if we're building some kind of Australia clause into their contracts from the start, allowing them to talk to NRL clubs long, long before their contract is due to end ... and if so, maybe that's the error.

One thing is for sure ... we have to change this culture. It's not like it helps the players. Budgie went too early and came back a kind of nowhere man. Mossop went and came back the same. Will George be next? Probably. He's barely good enough for SL at present, let alone the NRL. He needs a good two or three years under his belt yet if he wants to make an impact.

It's all very disheartening if you're a Wigan fan.
Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:07 pm
Posted by Grimmy on Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:07 pm
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I wonder if this helps us attract the best talent though? If I was a player with ambitions of eventually playing in the NRL, Wigan would be my first choice of SL club to go and make my name.
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Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:13 pm
Posted by Cruncher on Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:13 pm
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Grimmy wrote:
I wonder if this helps us attract the best talent though? If I was a player with ambitions of eventually playing in the NRL, Wigan would be my first choice of SL club to go and make my name.


That's a positive way to look at it, but I'm not sure the trade-off is there just yet.

We clearly got the best out of Sam, but we haven't out of George. Then look at a club like Leeds, who had a whole bunch of great players, and kept them all, with Hall only going to Aus now that he's 30 years old and massively overweight.

I wish we were doing it that way.
Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:57 pm
Posted by Grimmy on Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:57 pm
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Cruncher wrote:
That's a positive way to look at it, but I'm not sure the trade-off is there just yet.

We clearly got the best out of Sam, but we haven't out of George. Then look at a club like Leeds, who had a whole bunch of great players, and kept them all, with Hall only going to Aus now that he's 30 years old and massively overweight.

I wish we were doing it that way.

True, I think the majority of the Leeds squad hit their peak at a time when the NRL were less eager to take a punt on UK prospects, and many of their players, whilst very good in Super League, weren't quite of the calibre where NRL clubs would have been falling over themselves to sign them (I'm thinking Sinfield, Maguire, Burrow, JJB, Ablett), but I don't really understand how Leeds managed to keep hold of Watkins, Hall, Peacock to be fair. Mind, I suppose we have kept hold of Farrell and O'Loughlin, who are a similar sort of standard.
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Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:07 pm
Posted by phibes on Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:07 pm
phibes Strong-running second rower
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Grimmy wrote:
Mind, I suppose we have kept hold of Farrell and O'Loughlin, who are a similar sort of standard.


My concern is that those two are the exception for us these days - both came through the reserve system, broke into the international scene and stayed at the club.

I take your point about the club's open-minded attitude to letting players go to the NRL might work in our favour, but I'd rather they came because we're Wigan RL and not a stepping stone to another comp.
Re: Wigan players and the NRL
Post Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:12 pm
Posted by Levrier on Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:12 pm
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On the one hand we may encourage players to sign for us if we agree to help them with their Australian dreams but we are now taking unfinished articles and losing them before our investment fully pays off. We may as well invest in older players who, like Bullock, are reaching maturity. You can see why so many clubs do not want reserves or junior teams when you can get a proven South Sea Islander for less hassle.
I would like to see a statement from the management saying that, in future, players will be held to the terms of their contracts. If contracts include buy out clauses then well and good, they may be on a sliding scale depending on the length of contract remaining. If the Aussies do not want to pay what is asked they can then always wait a year or so for the asking price to come down. It then becomes a Dutch auction if they are prepared to wait.

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