How lost is the west?

01/10/2013

Source: News Limited
Source: News Limited

Short and Sweets October 1

How lost is the west of Sydney when it comes to its sport teams?

The debut season of the wonderful Wanderers apart what about the rest!

Repeat poor seasons plagued Giants of AFL, Thunder of Big Bash cricket and Tigers, Panthers and Eels who “led the field” as back to back wooden spooners.

I am not across the plans for those others sports for 2014 and beyond. However like most footy fans I am wondering how it looks for the NRL clubs down the track.

In one positive sign Panthers fans can perhaps see the bright young stars of their future senior teams with both NYC Holden Cup and Windsor Wolves (or reserve grade) featuring on Grand final day. There are few financial benefits in these achievements but it never hurts for young players to feel successful together to assist their personal development and fondness for the club.

It also sends positive messages to the club that better times are ahead through the planning and hard work being done at foundation levels.

Do the others have anything positive happening?

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Why can’t we improve the business image of Rugby League?

Following the AFL Grand Final the focus was immediately on the winners and a little on the losers.

Then the elephant that has been in the whole AFL’s room was out in the open. Where will Lance Franklin play next season?

Compare this to James Maloney’s transfer from New Zealand Warriors to Sydney Roosters for example. It was announced almost a year before he made the move. We all know of hundreds of others of a similar nature. And it’s about to happen again – from November 1 it’s officially ok to sign any player from other clubs, who will be off contract on October 31 2014! But he can change his mind anytime up to June 1 or something? Example Josh Papalii Raiders to Eels oops, no back to Raiders.

Compare Maloney’s playing performances from 2013 to 2012.

If Buddy Franklin is the number one player in their sport and he can wait to do business after he has completed his commitment to his current club why can’t our guys?

If AFL clubs can do their player acquisition business post–season why can’t ours?

Apart from the obvious distractions NRL’s  “system” makes our sport look incapable of following good business practices.

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Sports teams and individuals provide great inspiration for all of us.

Sam Moa’s story is another.

Rejected by all NRL clubs he took himself to Super League. At Hull FC he made achievements with his on-field performances  but it was what he had chosen to do with his off field life that created both the new playing success and the new opportunity in the NRL.

His teammate at Hull FC, Craig Fitzgibbon, sang Moa’s praises upon returning to Roosters our coaching and recruitment staff. The transformation in BIG SAM’s body made him almost unrecognizable even to friends who knew him well. But it was the stuff that can’t be seen that really mattered. Fitzgibbon’s first-hand experience of the effects Moa had on teammates via his leadership example on and off field was compelling.

He got an NRL return and an opportunity. It still took more commitment and meeting more challenges to win a spot in the Roosters all-star forward pack. He has met that too.

Sam Moa runs out in the starting team on Grand Final day.

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On a different human story in footy it was so disappointing to see Richie Fa’aoso suffer a serious neck injury.  Like Sam Moa the big Manly front rower has trod the long path to this great season with the Eagles. With his own stint in Super League after bouncing from club to club Richie has played some very good footy in this latter part of his career.

Some better life choices are probably associated too.

Manly will miss his power stints on GF day. I will be a just a little sad to see him dressed in “civvies” missing this opportunity he has worked so hard for over a decade in NRL.

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On a personal note I have a couple of sad but glad moments to share with you.

Obviously I will be very disappointed not to be in that coaches box on Sunday night as I planned on when I accepted that 4 year deal to join the Roosters from the Knights.

On the other hand I am so pleased for everyone at the Roosters both now and previously who have dug the well to provide the current crew with this fantastic opportunity. Certainly only one of the many but I feel most for Steve Noyce who worked tirelessly and expertly for his entire term at the Roosters as CEO.

The current crew has come a long way this season under Trent Robinson’s tremendous coaching. Robo  has his own story of Super League experience on his path to NRL success.

On a broader note on Grand Final day I will be a very proud father as my two sons are involved.

Keegan has a fantastic personal story, of which many of you may know. Not for him the standard path. Travel, life’s school of education, work on different continents and many countries with indigenous groups is interrupted for some unknown part of his life by footy. His connection with health and fitness and life management to assist the Roosters this season is something very special for a father to see from afar.

Rohan’s story is in footy through Wollongong University and Collegians coaching as a teenager, to NZ Warriors, London Broncos, Newcastle Knights,  Sydney Roosters and as assistant coach to Garth Brennan on GF day with Panthers NYC team is one of persistence and personal development also. He is off on another NEW footy venture at the Warriors again next season.

And finally I am sad that I will not be going to the World Cup as head coach of the USA Tomahawks but very glad with a surprise family event in early November.