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Bloods transfusion

Date

David Polkinghorne

Culture club ... The Raiders want to be like the Swans

Culture club ... The Raiders want to be like the Swans

Can you take one club's culture and transplant it into another? Canberra Raiders coach David Furner will this month visit the Sydney Swans, hoping to learn something of the fabled Sydney Swans' ''Bloods'' culture.

It's a brutally honest ''no dickheads'' policy that has taken the Swans to two premierships wins in the past eight years.

Set up by Paul Roos, with the help of the Leading Teams program, the Sydney culture has taken on an almost mythical aura and is seen as a panacea for all of a club's behavioural problems.

Roos has dismissed the ''no dickheads'' rule as a misnomer.

He said he believed in second chances and strong leadership could help turn around a wayward character.

Results would say it can.

Former Collingwood pair Nick Davis and Rhyce Shaw are probably the most notable.

Davis' attitude was always questioned, while Shaw struggled to deal with the pressures of his famous Collingwood name that culminated in a drink-driving ban and a move to the Swans.

Both ended up playing in premierships with the Swans.

The Raiders' culture has come under attack recently and 22-year-olds Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were disciplined for alcohol-related misdemeanours last year. They were dropped after Ferguson turned up to training under the influence of alcohol, while Dugan was drinking while injured.

Ferguson was again in the spotlight for allegedly spitting on someone at Canberra's Foreshore Festival.

The Swans model is based on having strong leaders within the playing group - leaders that help mold their teammates into better players, team players and people.

The Raiders have that in Terry Campese, David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, it's just a matter of how brutally honest they are willing to be with their young teammates.

Confrontation is never easy, especially when your mates and teammates are involved. Egos are easily bruised.

That is assuming the Bloods' model is right for the Raiders.

There's more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to build a successful culture.

The sporting landscape is littered with bad-boy-comes-good stories. You need look no further than your television today to see proof of that.

It wasn't long ago Australia's cricket captain, Michael Clarke, found his throat in the grip of Simon Katich's hand.

The young ''Pup'' wanted the team's song, Under A Southern Cross I Stand, sung early so he could go out partying.

Katich forcefully showed the future leader he should stay. Four years later and no one can question Clarke's leadership credentials.

He's grown into the captaincy role so much, a score of anything less than 100 seems like a failure.

In almost every press conference he repeats the mantra of ''team first'', something Katich clearly questioned Clarke's belief in back in 2009.

Whether he's talking about the controversial rotation policy for fast bowlers or the lack of first-class cricket at the moment, Clarke is always talking about what's best for the team.

It will be interesting to see how Clarke fills the void created by the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, as well as the omission of Queanbeyan product Brad Haddin, boasting 290 Tests between them.

Peter Siddle, Shane Watson and David Warner will need to step up and fill the breach.

The culture of the Australian swimming team has been questioned in the fall-out from the London Olympic Games, with allegations of bullying and taking the banned substance Stilnox emerging.

Emerging Aussie tennis player Bernard Tomic also had an attitude problem last year, the solo sportsperson's equivalent to a culture problem.

He was accused of tanking and found himself in court for driving offences.

It led to Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter dropping him from the team.

If one game can be used as a guide, Tomic appears to be on the right path after beating world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Hopman Cup.

But it won't be until the tennis year gets under way in earnest that we will know whether his attitude really has improved.

With no real team to call on to exert peer group pressure, it is up to Tomic to change himself.

One win in an exhibition tournament isn't proof of a finished transformation - it's a promising start down a long, hard road.

It's a similar position to where the Raiders find themselves now.

Furner clearly wants to try to bring some of the Swans culture to Canberra, with some players failing to learn from mistakes of the past.

Accountability is what it's all about - being strong enough to admit when you're wrong, take responsibility for your actions and then moving on.

To err is human after all. It's what we do after we have erred that is important.

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