The harsh truth is that probably only Wigan, Saints and Leeds really have top class junior development at the moment. The rest, including Huddersfield, are following behind. No doubt fans of lots of clubs will chip in and say "what about Hull KR, Wire, Widnes, Cas, blah blah" but when you take the blinkers it still remains the case that most clubs are off the pace. It needs to change of course.
That said, the maths of it is that a club only needs to produce one or perhaps two young players a year to replenish the first team. The Huddersfield Academy setup is doing that pretty well now and has been for a couple of years. What's not happening is a large surplus of young players feeding into other SL clubs, or the emergence of any undisputed World Class talents. So far.
Thanks for that Steve,
I always go back to Hetherington in the early part of SL declaring Leeds would "produce their own players" and assigning Dean Bell the job. He then soon went to Wigan to do that job for them. There is of course "producing players" and producing top class players, I appreciate the "maths" - you need a throughput of proportion to get the one or two a year.
Even out of that one or two "replenishing the first team" there needs to be that extra class for cup success and I suppose at Leeds you could say that McGuire, Sinfield, JJB, Ablett, Smith, Burrow, Watkins, Jones-Bishop, Hall, McShane etc have given the club a bigger share of the class players.
The "mechanics" as opposed to the maths is interesting. We don't simply see the young players from an area go to the local academy. They are of course prepared to travel, especially the top prospects. So the top clubs, attractive to the best juniors, get an advantage by signing the top juniors not just from under the noses of championship clubs, but also rival SL clubs. Wasn't Wardle from the Bradford area but felt he'd have better prospects with Fartown? Burrow was apparently from Castleford.
So just having an academy will supply players, but if you want it to supply cup winning players you have to have the muscle, wether financially or success wise or probably both to attract the very best.
From next year there'll be five SL academies in one small area of Lancashire, and equally five in one small area of Yorkshire. The battle begins getting the best local kids to sign for you and not one of the other four or even nine??
Clearly over the recent years there hasn't been enough young players capable of meeting the pro standard, hence all the imports, so again we'll have ten academies looking for young players of likely pro standard, and there aren't enough which of course has led to the RFL working hard on promoting and extending Junior RL geographically to avoid imports.
It's not just an academy system that's needed - a scouting system will be very important too to find those players that aren't all on the doorstep.
Edited by The Parksider, 12 December 2011 - 08:08 AM.