Following my previous article on what players should beware before signing a contract, today’s we look at what clubs should be cautious of when signing a player.
1. The player you buy is not necessarily the player you get. Each player is also a representation of those around him. The reality of the player may be that his best days are now behind him.
2. It takes on average two years for a player to regain the form he showed at his previous club, so fully expect him to start below par.
3. A player will tell you whatever you want to hear when interviewed for a potential offer to join a new club. You are offering vast sums of money, so the real test will be his behaviour.
4. With some editing here and there, any player can look good on YouTube.
5. When a player leaves his first club he has given up being a one-club player. Statistically, the chances of staying beyond his current contract have now lowered dramatically. Players in the NRL average 1.9 years at their second club. If players get beyond a year at their first club, they average 3.5 years.
6. There are a number of factors to consider when signing cross-code players. While the output of the player changing codes may be excellent, how does he affect the team as a whole? This cross-code player may have amazing ball-carrying skills, but if he is out of position due to any comprehension gaps regarding his new code, then the team and its results will be directly affected.
Much is made in the media of cross-code successes, which makes the prospect appear viable, yet the many failed attempts are rarely publicised.
7. A club needs to understand the ramifications of bringing in new players and cross-code players for those already in the playing squad. If you sign a flyhalf, it tells the young up-and-coming flyhalf they can’t be relied upon to do their job. This can leave an impression upon the younger player that there is no existing loyalty, which can burn you when the recent import retires or leaves.
8. How a player is treated upon exit speaks volumes about a club. If treated badly, it sends a message that the remaining players are only treated well because they play there, not because they are liked.
9. Loyalty is a two-way street. If you show it, you get it back.
10. When a player leaves a club, he takes with him all of the relationships and understandings he has formed over the years. A better player can’t replace this.
11. Make cultural mistakes with 17-year-old players, not 27-year-old players. It’s much cheaper.
12. Don’t expect players to openly tell you about injuries. Have them undertake the most thorough medical affordable.
13. When a player is dropped for ill discipline, it’s amazing how much the other players step into the breach.
14. Don’t have one rule for Round 7 and another for the grand final. In the end it will hurt you if you don’t stick to what was agreed.
15. I am yet to find a club that has been able to offset money spent on players by a rise in sponsorship dollars. Keep in mind that it will be even more expensive to hold onto these players year after year.
16. Once a player becomes a paid professional, it’s very difficult for them to go back to amateur status and stay. In the end, these players will search for someone else who values them. When the ARC rugby tournament was started in 2007, it launched the professional careers of 108 players. When the tournament finished that year, 46 of those 108 left to play overseas.
17. Changing a player’s character is much, much harder than most clubs think. Generally, it is easier to change a player’s skill set. However, every year, clubs take on players with this intention, claiming their club culture is strong enough to change this person.
18. On the other side of the ledger, so many coaches see a player lacking skill or size as unchangeable characteristics. The original Brumbies team was full of players not deemed good enough to play Super Rugby, let alone Tests.
19. If you sign players and rotate them constantly, don’t expect fans to instantly connect. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to say winning is not enough to draw people to stadiums. It’s the player-fan connections, built up over time, that keep people coming back.
20. Never underestimate how bad things can get. Is it worth sacking a coach who regularly gets you to the finals for a coach who can take you the ‘extra step’? It may not feel so smart when, two years later, the club is at the bottom of the table.
21. It’s really important to understand what signing a player will do for your club through the entire course of their association with the club – from signing right through to what they impart on the club when they leave. Does their departure leave a giant hole, to be filled by another purchase? Will you be rudderless with underdeveloped leaders?
And now I turn it over to the readers. What are your thoughts?