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Tough calls need to be made, on or off the phone

Staying put … Will Genia.

Staying put … Will Genia. Photo: Getty Images

Only a week ago I was having my umpteenth meeting with Will Genia and/or his manager trying to sort out our negotiations.

Since this time there has been a lot of ''expert'' opinion and discussion around the topic. Certain media personalities become expert analysts projecting their opinion as fact. We operate in a fishbowl and there are always plenty of people looking in and casting judgment, but I can assure that not many truly understand the inner workings of player contract negotiations and the effort and frequency of communication that goes into it.

As a negotiator you need to be subjective and objective, and you need to make the hard calls. That's the job. That also means you are going to have those in the cheap seats watching and throwing their two cents in at every turn.

The media would have you believe there are conspiracy theories and hidden agendas intertwined within their Hollywood script. But the truth is that Will made one of the few massive decisions he will make during his life, and valued loyalty and remaining in Queensland over other factors.

Making career choices that both excite and disappoint thousands of people is not something many people are forced to deal with in their life and that's why it's important not to judge Will for either decision as ultimately he is the one who would need to live with it.

After four months of discussions with Will, my parting words to him on Friday night, when he confirmed he had chosen to leave for the Force, were that he needed to make a good decision for himself, and make sure his girlfriend, Vanessa, was OK with the idea.

There was no bad blood. It was quite the opposite. I wasn't going to punish him for making a difficult decision. We then shook hands.

As coaches we spend our lives trying to get players to make the right decisions, but there are always many things in the mixing pot that influence the situation.

For instance, I am going to have a massive phone bill next month for the amount of time I spent in New Zealand communicating with our CEO, chairman, media manager, player manager and journalists. The list goes on, but each of those people have input. When their positions change, it must then be reflected in communication and amended strategies.

I mention player managers because you are not just managing Will's decision - you are managing the ripple effect as well.

If Will stayed, then other players in our squad may be targeted elsewhere instead. If Will went, then other options and opportunities would open up.

It's a complicated beast made even more difficult by deadlines placed on offers and the sheer volume of decisions that need to be made.

The media love all this and spend their time trying to get ''exclusives'', which takes up even more time when considering there was the core activity of winning a difficult game in a place we had never won before - Eden Park.

I've been through high-profile negotiations that have attracted massive media scrutiny - Lote Tuqiri, Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Andrew Johns, Mark Gasnier and Timana Tahu are just a few.

I can assure you the negotiations are all different. There was plenty of fishbowl stuff with the names just mentioned and they were all big news because of the rugby league element.

The wheel has now turned and the scrutiny is on rugby's own products. Matt Giteau, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor and Will are some of the more recent rugby challenges. The only thing they have in common is that they all consume an enormous amount of time and there is heavy scrutiny that invokes emotions. This can be both good and bad.

The weekend saw the wheel turn again and pleasingly Will reflected on the totality of the decision and put a high price on enjoyment, camaraderie and the love of what he knows - the Reds. I say the same thing all the time - "make it the right decision".

I am very confident he will ''make it the right decision'', beginning this Sunday when the caravan rolls on against the Crusaders in Christchurch. It's not an enviable task, but neither was winning at Eden Park for the first time.

There is a confidence returning to the Reds that you can sense is giving us more optimism. We have been able to find a way to overcome the Crusaders during the last few years. This is important as some teams have not been able to find the key.

This week we return to Christchurch's Peppers Clearwater Resort for our stay, as every other hotel we have stayed in is now in ruins. It will be a bitter visit for that reason, but I am hoping that our Clearwater stay is a good omen. Last time, I was there as a coach in 2004 we had a record victory against the Crusaders.

I could go into it more but that phone has started to ring … again! I wonder who it is this time?

16 comments so far

  • Another excellent write up. A masterclass in negotiation Link. It would be fun to read an article by Robbie Deans but given he is lucky to string more than one intelligible sentence together a postage stamp might suffice.
    Hope the Reds are mightly fired up this weekend to refute the barbs they can only beat the Crusader at home. If they can point out the serial cheating and whining to the ref by the Crusaders they'll be halfway there. Genia to lay down a big stamp.

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 8:07AM
    • How heavies that chip getting Jonny Boy??? You'll be due a shoulder recon the way your going!

      Link is over playing the victory against a truely woefull Blues team who will be lucky to chalk more than 3 wins this year. Should be a good tight match a the Crusaders are yet to really impress. Genia as always will be the key shut him down & you shut down the Reds

      Commenter
      Camomatic
      Location
      The Winners Circle
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 6:57PM
  • "We have been able to find a way to overcome the Crusaders..."

    "some teams have not been able to find the key"

    The key is Stuart Dickinson.

    Commenter
    Warren Denial
    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 8:51AM
    • It was unfortunate that the Foxtel commenators were so insistent in letting the audience know about Genia going to the Force. The dialogue with David Pocock in the after-match interview was cheap and opportunistic - poor form from Foxtel.

      Had we not endured that rubbish from Foxtel the whole back and forth of Will Genia wouldn't have been so dramatic. In the end it seems like the Reds are a more compelling option which isn't surprising all things being considered.

      I also happy the Reds have stuck to their guns and not tried to match the Force salary. No single player is worth breaking the bank over.

      Commenter
      Morgan
      Location
      Hong Kong
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 9:39AM
      • I thought Pocock's comments and body language when quizzed on Genia's signing and his own re signing indicated that he was quite unhappy that these things had entered the public domain. I am quite interested in where he may end up after his contract given the events of that Saturday in April.

        Commenter
        Phantom
        Location
        Toowoomba
        Date and time
        May 03, 2012, 1:44PM
    • Damage control from the QRU trying to justify why they breached ARU protocols by releasing info about negotiations between Genia and the Force when they were not finalised. The wheel turned again with Genia because of a deliberate tactic of the QRU to breach rules, which worked in their favour.

      Hope the ARU fines and reprimands them.

      Commenter
      Angus
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 9:58AM
      • Sook

        Commenter
        Bob
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        May 03, 2012, 1:13PM
    • Every year just after the season has started we have this' "argy bargy' about whose is up for contract renewal. As a spectator its turning me and I would think many others off Rugby Union.. It can demoralize both the team and followers so will the ARU please step in and do something about immediately. I haven't seen either NZRU or SARU having the same crap going on.They should also allow the same rules that were given to the Rebels to start up otherwise you will the Eastern silly old farts tear the guts out of Force.

      Commenter
      Garyown
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:02AM
      • @Garyown I have no issue with the Force getting a leg up due to a smaller grass roots Rugby scene but it is a bit of pot, kettle, black with regard to ripping the guts out of a team after what the Force did in 05 / 06 to build out their team.

        I think the best players for the force are those they indentify in Schoolboys and signup to develop their professional career versus getting stars off contract like Gits and Co.

        Commenter
        Tom
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        May 03, 2012, 10:44AM
        • No bad blood here.

          Of course, I didn't even find out Genia was supposed to be coming until almost the time it was made public that he wasn't, mainly because I was AT the damn game, suffering in the torrential downpour, and none of this was communicated to us.

          Personally I don't really care, he's not THAT good that it was worth spending so much on, we need to continue doing what we do well. Identifying young talent and training it up.

          Commenter
          piru
          Location
          Perth via Rakaia
          Date and time
          May 03, 2012, 1:14PM

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