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Little Lion Man

Warrington Partnership

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Smith seems to think a partnership has been agreed with Swinton for 2014.

Quote from above - Should Wolves be unable to find Super League loan clubs for those players too old to take part in the Academy under 19s competition, Smith is confident that the partnership agreement with Championship club Swinton Lions will continue into the new season despite their own financial difficulties and rumours of a takeover.

“We’ve got a partnership arrangement in place for next year,” Smith confirmed.

“We will still be able to play our fringe players who are over 19 on a partnership basis with Swinton.

“But nothing is decided in terms of who yet. As it stands all of our players see themselves as Super League players with us and we will see them like that too until we make our decisions based on pre-season.”

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The situation behind-the-scenes is hopefully better than what's presently apparent to those outside of the negotiation process.  But given the status of the squad as we presently know of it, i.e. through rumours, its difficult to see how the Lions will be able to field a full starting 17 at the pre-season friendly at Oldham in circa 6 weeks without featuring a high proportion of players on Dual Registration from somewhere.


Tony Smith did a full-page interview in last week's League Express on the "bigger picture" as he sees it:


Many good points made.  Certainly if every club in the land emulated what Warrington Wolves has done in recent years in terms of developing youngsters, the talent pool across the game today would be very much stronger.  There's lots of lessons that could be learned, but unfortunately the majority don't have the Wolves' combination of a relatively strong financial position and foresight of management.  Thus the Wolves have been left with a pool of players in the over-19 bracket that the club does not want to release, but hamstrung by a system that presently does not provide that age group with sufficient opportunities to play at a meaningful level to aid their further development.  Hense the need to look at loans to other SL clubs or failing that a partnership agreement.


Its a major pity the RFL is not more effective in obligating all clubs to give greater priority to developing young players, as that is key to sustaining the sport and improving our ability to compete against the Aussies and NZ.  The real issue being that whilst its still a great game to watch, too high a proportion of clubs are still getting by hand-to-mouth.


A key part of this very important issue is the credibility of the clubs presently outside of Super League and their role.  If the ambition of those clubs to develop themselves in general terms is effectively abandoned to allow Super League clubs to have youth development on the cheap, with Championship sides becoming glorified reserve sides / "feeder" clubs and ceasing to be meaningful entities in their own right, the implications are also very serious for the overall health of the game.


The potential impact is I feel exemplified by the way John and Paul Kidd embraced a Partnership agreement with the Wolves last season to the greatest extent they possibly could; the passage of time reveals it was an opportunist short-term survival tactic against a backdrop of serious financial problems which at that point had not been openly revealed.

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