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Roosters' success gives Canberra Raiders no incentive to develop players

WINNING STARTS MONDAY

Anthony Milford will leave for the Brisbane Broncos at the end of the season leaving the Raiders with little return on ...

Anthony Milford will leave for the Brisbane Broncos at the end of the season leaving the Raiders with little return on their investment. Photo: Getty Images

It was Canberra's last match against Sydney Roosters just 10 days ago that made Raiders officials seriously question the value of the club's $3 million per year investment in junior development.

In the Roosters starting line-up at Allianz Stadium were 12 players with Test or State of Origin experience, while the odd man out, Jake Friend, was the 19th man for Queensland in the series opener.

Josh Papalii was poached by Parramatta only to renege on the deal to stay in Canberra.

Josh Papalii was poached by Parramatta only to renege on the deal to stay in Canberra. Photo: Getty Images

By comparison, Canbarra had only Josh Papalii, David Shillington and Brett White who had played at that level.

In addition, 13 of the 17 Raiders players were products of the club's development programs - the biggest junior representation in any NRL team.

Even other so called developments clubs such as Newcastle, Penrith and Parramatta have been fielding teams that are more bought than bred.

Todd Carney was forced to leave the Raiders after several off-field incidents.

Todd Carney was forced to leave the Raiders after several off-field incidents. Photo: Getty Images

For all the time and money invested in producing players, Canberra has not won a grand final since 1994 and never seriously been considered a premiership contender in the 17 year history of the NRL.

In fact, a look at the records books shows that the NRL has been dominated in recent years by teams who focus more on recruitment than development, with Melbourne having featured in five grand finals since 2006, Manly in four of the last seven and the Roosters in two of the last four - winning last year and losing to St George Illawarra in 2010.

The only other clubs to have played on grand final day since 2007 have been Parramatta in 2009, the Warriors in 2011 and Canterbury in 2012 - all of whom lost.

Josh Dugan left the Raiders after a morning on the tiles.

Josh Dugan left the Raiders after a morning on the tiles. Photo: Getty Images

At an estimated cost of $49,000 to develop a player from 15 years old to the under 20s National Youth Competition, it could be argued that the Raiders have spent millions of dollars for little return.

Many of those players never go on to play in the NRL so the club never recoups the money invested in them.  

Worse, some of the best players they have produced, such as Todd Carney, Josh Dugan and Joel Monaghan, have been sacked by the club for off-field incidents, while the likes of Will Zillman, Anthony Milford and Papalii have been poached by rival clubs just as they are starting to fulfill their potential - although the latter reneged on a deal to join Parramatta and is still at the Raiders.

Sacked: Joel Monaghan left the Raiders after an embarrassing social media episode.

Sacked: Joel Monaghan left the Raiders after an embarrassing social media episode. Photo: Getty Images

Dugan, Milford and Papalii are set to feature in Origin II, while Carney and Monaghan have previously played for NSW.

The loss of 20-year-old Milford to Brisbane on a big money deal after less than 30 NRL games prompted the club to launch an aggressive but ultimately failed recruitment campaign in which they unsuccesfully targeted James Tedesco, Kevin Proctor, Josh Mansour and Michael Ennis.  

Raiders officials say the club spends $3 million per year on development of elite juniors and funding the local Canberra Regional competition, as well as servicing their association with Souths Logan in the Queensland Cup.

James Tedesco angered the Raiders by reneging on a multi-million dollar deal to stay with the Tigers.

James Tedesco angered the Raiders by reneging on a multi-million dollar deal to stay with the Tigers. Photo: Getty Images

However, that is now in jeopardy as they assess whether the money would be better directed signing players from elsewhere when they are ready to play in the NRL.

By doing so, the Raiders would not suffer the heartache of seeing a player such as Milford, whom they had invested so heavily in since he was 13-years-of-age, leave just as he was beginning to repay the club's faith in him.

They would also avoid having to deal with players who are yet to reach maturity and find themselves in off-field trouble that leads to them playing for other clubs after being sacked by Canberra.

Melbourne Storm backrower Kevin Proctor shook hands on a deal to join the Raiders then changed his name.

Melbourne Storm backrower Kevin Proctor shook hands on a deal to join the Raiders then changed his name. Photo: Getty Images

Canberra chief executive Don Furner and Raiders Group CEO Simon Hawkins met with NRL bosses in Sydney last Tuesday to discuss a game wide review of junior development.

"We are awaiting the outcome of that review and what it would look like before the stakeholders in our group make decisions on where they invest the money," Furner said.

"In the curent system there is no return from your investment and no incentive to invest in junior development."

Furner has proposed changes to the salary cap to make it easier for clubs to retain talent they have developed, which is similar to the discount system for long serving players.

Under the proposal, clubs would receive a discount on the salary cap value of players for every year he had been in their development system from the under 18s SG Ball competition.

"If the Roosters have bought Roger Tuivasa-Sheck all the way through from SG Ball, they would get it too," Furner said. "He doesn't have to be born and bred at Bondi but if they have bought him over from New Zealand and put him through SG Ball and under 20s, and he comes off contract they should get that advantage too."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the SG Ball is an under 16s competition. It is for under 18s.

35 comments so far

  • What a weighted article! The headline refers to junior development, but the opening facts refer to senior representation. And again the old "Roosters have no juniors" line can be heard.

    Let's look at the Roosters line up for the game in question. Anthony Minichiello was a member of the club's first ever S G Ball winning team in 1997. Shaun Kenny-Dowall started with the club in the Jersey Flegg junior competition. Jake Friend also played S G Ball and Jersey Flegg. Dylan Napa played S G Ball for the Roosters. And while we're at it, for a club with no juniors, the Roosters seem to be doing ok, winning this year's S G Ball competition.

    If we're going to make spurious comparisons, only six of the starting seventeen players have played senior football with a club other than the Roosters - and that's counting Remy Casty's Super League experience, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' 6 games for Manly and Sam Moa's grand total of 1 game for Cronulla.

    Commenter
    Peter
    Location
    Rose Bay
    Date and time
    June 09, 2014, 4:22PM
    • Sorry Peter, it is not weighted - it is actually a bit soft on the Roosters. But at least one lone journalist finally has the guts to say something negative about the Chooks and risk wholesale abuse from Politis, the self-appointed Godfather of rugby league. The Roosters have been pillaging other sides for years. It is easier and cheaper to buy a comp than develop players. And the bonus they have at present is that they have so much influence at NRL headquarters they can flagrantly rort the salary cap with no fear of reprisal. Their squad for 2013 and this year again is more than a million over the cap. But the NRL will do nothing about it. Because it is the Chooks - The golden boys of the NRL. And they wonder why people are not turning up to games and have lost faith in its administration. "NRL Integrity Unit"?? Ha ha ha ha ha. More power to you Brad. How about a proper investigation of the Chooks and their salary cap rort?

      Commenter
      E White
      Location
      Paddington
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 8:23PM
    • That just means the roosters take the talent from other clubs at a younger age rather than waiting till they are more expensive. Minicello is a western suburbs boy, the others from queensland and NZ

      Commenter
      Peeko
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 9:15PM
    • E White: Sounds like you've already done the investigation and have the proof. Show us the facts.

      Peeko: The Roosters take players at younger age AND DEVELOP THEM and pay less? Sounds like a smart recruitment policy, and good financial sense.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      Rose Bay
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 9:45PM
    • Hey Canberra - and the above jokers - welcome to the world of professional sport.

      No wonder you got left so far behind.

      Amateurs

      Commenter
      Chieftain
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 10:43PM
    • So EW, the proof for your claim that the Roosters' 'squad for 2013 and this year again is more than a million over the cap', is what??? I sure hope for your sake that you're not a lawyer.

      Commenter
      aussimmo
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 8:52AM
    • I hear the wailing from the Raiders about all the players from Logan that they claim to have developed...
      Development is more than buying a few hundred shirts with "Raiders Development Squad" plastered all over them and then claiming them as their "own juniors".
      Souths Logan have NO JUNIORS, there is no Souths Logan team competing in the BJRL competitions.
      Neither Canberra nor Souths Logan make any financial contribution at all to any of the clubs in the Logan area aside from throwing shirts at the better kids and trying to lock them up with dodgey scholarships.

      Commenter
      Ordinary Bloke
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 9:04AM
    • I agree this article needs to be more directed at the need for junior development than picking on any one club and their poaching abilities. It will be a sad indictment for the game if development clubs such as Raiders, Penrith and Knights start pulling their funding out of local competitions. The league is already suffering from a lack of talented players to cover the competition. Raiders have already pulled out of Logan due to Milford being taken by the Broncos. Raiders had invested in Souths Logan to which gave their community a pipeline to the NRL. So what incentive is there for clubs keep developing that area if they don't get the reward. SG Ball and Harold Matthews only exists with this funding.

      So rather than a pissing contest between clubs, the real problem is what to do as the development structure as a whole needs to be looked at for greater good of the game. Maybe NRL needs to control development as a whole and a draft introduced much like the AFL, NBA and NFL does for their sports so they can concentrate on just the first grade footy. The community aspect of rugby league is disappearing and making way for a more professional era. I just hope fans aren't put off by it.

      Commenter
      Jezza
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 2:05PM
  • The wholesale pillaging (and attempted pillaging) of outstanding junior players like Tedesco and Milford from "developememt clubs" like Canberra and Wests Tigers won't stop or even slow down until the NRL make these raiders (not the Canberra variety) pay the clubs being pillaged a reasonably hefty sum to compensate them (at a minimum) for all the money they've invested in the players being chased! Certain clubs, and we all know who they are, never invest a cent developing anyone of their own. If Canberra et al substantially reduce or stop developing players, the NRL will wither and eventually die as its supply of young players dries up and as its older ones retire

    Commenter
    curaeus
    Date and time
    June 09, 2014, 4:54PM
    • Yep absolutely correct or the NRL will have clubs like the Roosters with super rich owner's buying titles through pillaging the best players with no compensation to the clubs that develop the young players.One wonders how a side like the Roosters can field a host of internationals and origin players yet be under the Cap(SBW alone must take up huge chunk of cap).
      Maybe Transfer fees or a draft system like the American way?Who knows but the system at the moment is just silly and unfair to development clubs.Ultimately if clubs that spend huge $$$ on development stop the game will suffer.

      Commenter
      Jacko
      Location
      NZ
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 7:13AM

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