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Wendall

Picking up athletes from other sports and countries

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Just listening to Jon Wilkin on GMR and he is talking sense for once.

Rhys Evans the young South Welsh lad who moved up to Warrington as a teenager and is due to make his debut at Quins for the first team tommorrow.

Wilkin was saying RL need to do more of this and scout young athletes from other sports like soccer and other parts of the UK like Scotland who are fed up with that sport and would have a body shape more suited to RL.

I agree, at the moment we pick up talent from a very small geographical area and there are arguebly potentially better RL players who never pick up an oval ball that we are missing out on. Think of all the coloured minorities in london who could be the next Hanley or Offiah but have never heard of RL.

Its all about our scouts finding them and our clubs reaching out and giving them an opportunity to play RL.

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Wilkin was saying RL need to do more of this and scout young athletes from other sports like soccer and other parts of the UK like Scotland who are fed up with that sport and would have a body shape more suited to RL.

I agree, at the moment we pick up talent from a very small geographical area and there are arguebly potentially better RL players who never pick up an oval ball that we are missing out on. Think of all the coloured minorities in london who could be the next Hanley or Offiah but have never heard of RL.

Its all about our scouts finding them and our clubs reaching out and giving them an opportunity to play RL.

The opportunities have come about in London, South Wales and France in the last few years as the RFL have ensured the expansion clubs take their junior development responsibilities seriously.

Some would love to boot them out due to the difficulties they face, but having the game revert mainly back to the "very small geograpical area" you state is clearly the reason why SL has to fill itself up with imports and the English RL can nowadays hardly find enough quality to make a 17 man squad.

It's nice to think we are a Lancashire(in the old sense)Yorkshire game at least, but even then when the pro game is squeezed into central west yorkshire, hull and central west lancashire the "Geographical spread" is not small.

It's alarmingly tiny.

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Rugby League has always done this, whats new, the majority were always union players who wanted to be honest and pay tax. Others have come from football, athletics, boxing, grid-iron. I don't get his point we do look at other sports, the problem is now that the other sports can offer very lucrative financial packages themselves so it isn't as easy to offer someone a rare opportunity to make money from playing sport.

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Would love to see us broaden our player pool, but I don't think we should underestimate just how hard a game ours is physically and mentally. It takes a lot of bottle to enter and keep entering a Rugby pitch, its a far more brutal sport than pretty much anything else on offer in the UK.

So its all very well finding athletes/sportsman with the physical attributes, but a damn sight harder I'd guess to find those with the mental attributes that would see them willing to run into your average Super League pack time after time!

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Rugby League has always done this, whats new, the majority were always union players who wanted to be honest and pay tax. Others have come from football, athletics, boxing, grid-iron. I don't get his point we do look at other sports, the problem is now that the other sports can offer very lucrative financial packages themselves so it isn't as easy to offer someone a rare opportunity to make money from playing sport.

I think Wilkin was trying to say players who have been overlooked by other sports yet are fantastic atheletes and would be more suited to RL.

In the USA their must be many 1000s of atheletes who miss out on the NFL who could play RL.

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In the USA their must be many 1000s of atheletes who miss out on the NFL who could play RL.

RU has been trying to tap into these college footballers for years and having spent a lot of money on it, it doesn't really work as the skills sets for rugby of either code are very different to American Footballers.

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RU has been trying to tap into these college footballers for years and having spent a lot of money on it, it doesn't really work as the skills sets for rugby of either code are very different to American Footballers.

The Yanks are also completely alien to contact sport without serious protection so when thye try it they are not used to the pounding the body has to take.

Most players from other sports who have given it a go, apart from t'other lot, have not lasted long, there have been exceptions.

Remember the vast majority of union players who gave it a go never got past being A.N. Other, a lot of those where because they weren't expecting the physicality of the sport when they gave it a go.

RL players need to start young.

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This is a surprisingly worthwhile point from Wilkin. Perhaps he's got nothing left to moan about.

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If he was talking about adults or older teenagers then the problem is that the game isn't just about physique or athletic ability. We're talking about competing with the best that Australia and New Zealand can throw at us - players that have been handling and controlling a rugby league ball from almost as soon as they could put one foot in front of another. To be competing with the best, probably in any sport, you need to start when very young to be able to pick up and develop the skills.

If he is talking about the very young then how do we get access to them? How do we persuade their parents? What development path and career progression can we show them in, say, Bristol or Norwich to sell them RL over soccer, union or athletics?

To my mind the only real way we are going to attract the future quality players from outside the northern heartlands is to continue developing the game at grassroots in tandem with providing quality playing opportunities. Quick fixes won't work.

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THere are some out there already - Tim Bergin at Sheffield is a former Gaelic footballer, and wasn't that where Brian Carney came from?

Sheffield have also had a couple of gridiron types play for them - the useless AJ O'Kewe being one. He only played two or three matches - a Gary Hetherington publicity stunt gone wrong.

One of the Sonics players turned down an opportunity to go and play gridiron in the US. Now he's focussed on making it in League. He's a nice lad - only 18 as well.

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