Saturday, July 26, 2008

Players Will Always Move On - Sonny Bill The Latest

Sonny Bill has turned his back on the Bulldogs. (Find out more below)

The major dilemma facing the NRL at present revolves around how to keep the top tier players from chasing big money overseas.

Every armchair fan, past player, and local hero weighs in on the topic and puts their two cents about how to solve the problem into the ring. But let’s get real. There is never going to be one magic solution that keeps everyone on home soil. There will always be something somewhere that will draw players to other competitions or codes in the world. The pot is never going to be big enough to accommodate everyone.

Obviously it is disappointing to lose world class players like Mark Gasnier and, a little closer to home, Jonathon Thurston (as he has admitted to being approached about his future when his current Cowboys contract runs out). Their vacancy, however, leaves the door wide open for the next ‘big talent’ in line.

Take, for example the playing career of Jonathan Thurston. The guy could not get a regular start with the Bulldogs, but his move to the Cowboys has allowed him to grow into a player that is widely regarded as the best footballer in the world.

There are future Thurstons and Gasniers out there. They just need their day in the sun to prove it.

I can remember people saying it hurts the NRL when a player like Trent Barrett leaves for England. I personally do not think the game has suffered from Barrett’s departure and little fanfare has taken place about his return to our domestic competition next season.

Football is not the lone sport battling to keep their best players at home. I’ll use basketball as another example. We are losing players to Europe and the NBA at a rapid rate.

So I would say that the best way to combat the problem would be to spend resources developing our sports at grass roots so that we have the talent to fill the vacancies left by the inevitable departure of high level talent. It allows our sport to sustain itself without being so dependent on a small group of individuals.

Promote yourself to the kids the right way and spend money and time on doing so. They, in turn, will want to be involved in the sport. The more players you develop, the more players you have to fill your talent pool. The deeper your talent pool, the more able you are to sustain and survive the loss of players.

I would also like to suggest that I think it is a good sign when other countries are willing to pay our players the big money to join their overseas club. It’s a reflection of a product that has been made in our backyard and has been sought after worldwide. What business would not see that as a good thing?

It does become an emotional issue, when your favourite player decides that it is time to chase the cash away from home, but maybe critics should ask themselves, “What would I have done?”.

I think anyone who is honest with themselves would have to, at the very least, consider answering the question the same way Gasnier did. Playing in France for a million a season sounds pretty easy to handle.

You can read my article every Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin.

In other NRL news Sonny Bill Williams has left the Bulldogs for France.

No comments: