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Thread: Draft bid to spread young talent

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    Draft bid to spread young talent

    Not so sure about this one Mitch...

    Draft bid to spread young talent

    Bret Harris, The Australian| August 27, 2007

    WESTERN FORCE coach John Mitchell has called for the introduction of a player draft among the four Australian teams in the Super 14 series.

    A draft would help to promote equality among the four teams and provide opportunities for young players.

    At present, each of the Australian teams - Brumbies, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds and the Force - are required to sign a minimum of three and a maximum of five rookie players.

    But young players are free to sign with whichever province they choose and many end up warehoused in state academies, particularly in NSW and Queensland, which produce the vast majority of Australia's rugby players.

    A draft has operated in New Zealand since the advent of Super rugby in 1996 to spread the talent around the country.

    In New Zealand, each of the five teams is allowed to protect 24 of its 28 squad members, but the other four players can be drafted to other teams.

    Mitchell believes a draft is also necessary in Australia to distribute talent fairly and to improve the prospects of up-and-coming players.

    "We have to look at that rookie contract area of the professional squads, where we have the opportunity of a minimum three and maximum five," Mitchell said.

    "If we can be a lot more selective and set higher benchmarks on the top 20 players ... maybe we use the ARC (Australian Rugby Championship) and the academy system, to select the best 20 in the country each year, who can fill those spots and sit down as four states and Wallabies management and identify where each state has positional weaknesses, to make sure we get a really fair and equitable distribution of players.

    "You are basically enhancing the opportunity of the young professional player, as opposed to ... some of them getting blocked in large academies. I just think we have to start setting higher standards and start benchmarking.

    "One, it increases the accountability of academy players to raise the bar.

    "Secondly, it creates a lot more competition, when you've got the right youth coming into the Super 14 squads.

    "Every four years, you kind of get a cycle of departures, so you've got to make sure your succession planning is positionally specific and I think that is probably the best way to go."

    A draft would potentially help the Force because of the lack of playing depth in Western Australia, compared to NSW and Queensland. But Mitchell denied that the Force saw itself as disadvantaged by the current system.

    "I think ACT and ourselves see that we can be selective," Mitchell said.

    "We are actually already doing that in a lot of ways, but why not give all those boys in the entire academy system, the top 20 boys, the best chance of going into professional rugby?"

    A draft is unlikely to be introduced to Australia while it is opposed by the Rugby Union Players Association.

    RUPA chief executive Tony Dempsey said the desire to play for the Wallabies provided sufficient incentive for players to move around the country.

    "We don't think a draft is necessary ... because there is incentive for players to move to Super 14 teams in order to play for the Wallabies," Dempsey said.

    "If there are two good halfbacks in the one team, there is a huge incentive to move to secure a starting position because all the status and rewards come from playing for the Wallabies.

    "Players will always choose the best opportunity to do that, so there is already a mechanism to promote equality among the states."

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    I agree with Dempsey, players should be able to make the choice and not be dictated into playing where they'd prefer not to be....

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    Senior Player Contributor hopep's Avatar
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    A draft doesn't have to be mandatory. It is easy to set up a draft that young palyers can opt into - or they may choose to stay on an academy contract.

    The AFL draft is a pretty good model. Not all enlist, some get picked up a lot earlier - and mothballed till later (academy type contract). A draft gives hope and choice to those "unseen" thousands who may have talent.

    I agree, a total 'draft only' policy will not really help much, but as part of a recruitment plan it could be useful.

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Dempsey
    "If there are two good halfbacks in the one team, there is a huge incentive to move to secure a starting position because all the status and rewards come from playing for the Wallabies.

    "Players will always choose the best opportunity to do that, so there is already a mechanism to promote equality among the states."
    Oh yeah that helped Henjak a lot didn't it

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    I think the idea of a draft sounds pretty good- as long as noone is forced to go anywhere. There are more opportunities if you go where the need is greater and if you perform well you have the lee-way to negotiate going whereever you want. After losing a young talent like Jared Waerea-Whatsamesomething a shake-up in the rookie/academy system might be necessary and especially with a very young crop of very talented players soon entering the system. Admittedly, it would be a lot harder to get up and running in Australia than in New Zealand given the distance between Perth and the East though (bound to lead to more cases of home-sickness). I'd definitely like another hooker at the Force and it would be great to see someone like James Hanson (u/19 hooker with the Rebels) come in as a rookie and cover if Tai or Luke are injured and become Luke's back-up when Tai retires (probably in 2 years).

    That said I think having a well-conceived draft system would benefit all of the Super 14 teams and players, and by association the Wallabies, and therefore I can be certain that the ARU will be dead against it.

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    No, not at S14 level. But in time, I could see a draft for the ARC and the players first introduction to professional rugby.

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    Senior Player Contributor gustafsl's Avatar
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    Draft seems like a good idea. Spread the talent around a bit. ARU would never go for it though as that would mean that NSW and Queensland would lose players. But it's alright, the Force can just let the other teams develop the talent and then sign them when they are Super 14 ready.

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    Legend Contributor Flamethrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burgs
    A draft is unlikely to be introduced to Australia while it is opposed by the Rugby Union Players Association.

    RUPA chief executive Tony Dempsey said the desire to play for the Wallabies provided sufficient incentive for players to move around the country.
    Especially if those players move to the east coast

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    Champion Contributor jazza93's Avatar
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    the current system is fine

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