The Roar
The Roar

Tom Rock

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Joined February 2016

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As a full-time pharmacist, part-time Roarer and fair-weather Newcastle Knights fan, Tom doesn’t leave anything on the field. He always gives 110% and never forgets to give full credit to the boys. But in a game of two halves, it’s important not to look too far ahead, so Tom’s just taking it one week at a time. Follow Tom on Twitter @_TomRock_

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Thanks RS, you are too kind. And my apologies that my article did not put you to sleep, as is the case with much of my work.

I do remember the signing of Asotasi from the Dogs, and you are right that he marked the first major signing for the club after readmission to the competition. I think Souths were hoping that he would have the kind of impact that Burgess and Inglis achieved, but unfortunately their squad was just too weak at the time. Roy gave it a red and green hot crack, but the task was too much for one man.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

Was just checking that you were reading Tim. You passed. Canberra is very beautiful. You have the…ah well the…lake. It’s kinda wet I guess.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

Thanks Paul. I would put the Dragons in the Representative Model. They just load up with rep players and hope for the best. No real plan, just sign and hope

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

I think it’s called the Tigers model.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

I must admit that Cronulla were the hardest of the top 8 sides to classify. Maybe I just like that song.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

It’s a fair question. I’d say the club exists to win football games. That should always be the focus and top priority. Winning then has the flow on effect of engaging fans, boosting membership and increasing the health of your club. From this point, I think a club can then consider the community based activities you mention.

But without winning, nothing matters. Just look at the Broncos.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

That’s a fair point. I would say that they are trying to transition away from the Superstar model. After being burnt by the likes of Ash Taylor and Bryce Cartwright, and putting the David Fifita contract to one side, I think the Titans will look to invest more shrewdly.

They signed Tino for average money, and got Herman for the Knights on the cheap. And in addition to Fifita, the players they are building the team around (Brimson, Fogarty) are either local juniors or cheap signings.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

I think you are about to witness a transformation in two of them.

The Titans are using the Coaching and Culture model and it’s paying early dividends. I’m very interested to watch their development next season.

And with Gus on board, I’m certain the Warriors will play the long game and institute the Junior Development model. If he can set up the right pathways, they could be a force in years to come.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

Thanks Barry. I will check with my lawyers before I add in that extra nugget

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 2

Thanks Paul.

You make a fair point about Penrith. They won’t always have a bumper crop of kids to pick from. But having the luxury to choose between your own home grown talent or going to market like most other clubs is a competitive advantage. And even if their kids are only average, you would rather furnish your roster with cheap juniors than with overpriced veterans (I’m looking at you Wests).

I just think this approach is more sustainable in the long-term, and puts less stress on your salary cap. If a handful of these kids don’t work out, just move along to the next one. This is exactly the situation the Panthers found themselves in with Burton and Luai. The latter was further along in his development, but the former was said to have more long-term upside. So they give Luai a chance to prove his worth knowing that if he fails, they can move on to Burton. As it turns out Luai has had a bumper season and looks to be the future number 6. Either way, they had cover. I’m sure most clubs would kill to have this problem.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Thanks Geoff, it’s good to be back mate. I have a 10 month old at home, so finding time to think, write and bathe have proven challenging.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Hi Andrew. I totally agree that Parramatta have produced some very good juniors. The problem has been that until recently, they weren’t holding on to the right ones. The fact that you point out that Moses, Matterson and Nathan Brown were Parramatta juniors, were allowed to walk and then were signed from other clubs at a later date is less than ideal. These are the sort of scenarios that lead a club to paying overs for talent that was already on their roster to begin with.

The good news for the Eels is that they now seem to have the right people in charge of making recruitment and retention decisions. They have a talented roster, and by the sounds of it, some good kids coming through. I hope they hold on to them.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Just because the Storm don’t have a local ‘catchment’ doesn’t mean they don’t have a significant junior program. It’s just in Queensland. And don’t confuse my description of how Melbourne do business as criticism. I think their approach is probably the most successful in the game, and it relies on them having a very good eye for talent.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

I think the difference with the Panthers is that they have installed significant infrastructure to develop these kids from a young age. Clubs like Melbourne and the Roosters simply pick the eyes out of rival programs, where Penrith are actually developing these players all the way through their junior career.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

I’ll get to the Raiders in Part 2 😊

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Morning Baz. I think you hit the nail on the head – it’s about identifying the right juniors, not just having heaps of them. This was one of the ideas I struggled with when Nathan Brown first started rebuilding Newcastle. He was invested in junior development and was blooding heaps of kids, but many (or most) of them were never destined to be quality first graders.

The best system seems to be having a recruitment team who are able to identify these kids at 15-16 years old, bring them into the club, and then debut them into first grade after having 4-5 years in your system. That is the Rooster way, and it works kinda ok.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Morning Jimmmy. I think all clubs are aware that the Junior Development model is the most suited to deliver sustained success, but few have the patience to see the process out. It took the best part of a decade to transform the Panthers into the club we see today. I just hope New Zealand don’t expect results too quickly with Gus on board. I would love to see them turn into a juggernaut with the right pathways in place.

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Thanks Barry. I better go and write it!

Makings of a champion: How the NRL top eight was built – Part 1

Morning Nat. Interesting idea about pushing the contracts back. Unfortunately it would take agreement from the participating clubs, and that’s as unlikely as Robbie Farah and Jason Taylor going for tandem bike rides.

The winners and losers of abandoning the 2020 NRL season

I think it’s a bit harsh to judge Madge’s stint at the Tigers after only one season with a roster he inherited. If he can’t push them into the finals over the next couple of seasons, then fair enough. But give the bloke a chance.

He may have had a good roster at South Sydney, but that doesn’t always guarantee success. Just ask Brian Smith!

The winners and losers of abandoning the 2020 NRL season

Morning Superspud – good point about Croker! I forgot about the record breakers. He was (and probably still is) in line to give that points scoring record a good nudge. A missed season will certainly hamper his chances.

And I wish I shared your optimism around the season going ahead….

The winners and losers of abandoning the 2020 NRL season

The reality of club politics and fan fanaticism went out the window for this exercise Paul. Just a bit of Blue Sky fun.

What would the NRL look like if we hit the reset button?

Morning Nat. I’m still not sold on the Perth idea. I get that there are some fans over there and that they have existing infrastructure, but I would double down on rugby league strongholds before I put another team in Perth. But that’s just me.

And I’m really keen to see Harry Grant get a run somewhere. I’ve heard so many good things, but not seen him play. He’ll certainly have a lot to live up to. No pressure!

What would the NRL look like if we hit the reset button?

I take your point Albo. Had to draw the line somewhere, and Western Sydney was probably the hardest hit by my brave new world.

What would the NRL look like if we hit the reset button?

Perth and Adelaide are both AFL strongholds. Why beat a dead horse when we could instead claim areas which the AFL have yet to claim?

And mark my word, the AFL are pushing hard for country NSW. AFL posts are replacing rugby league posts all over the place, and they run such successful school programs. If the NRL don’t do something to halt their progress, they could lose a traditional heartland.

What would the NRL look like if we hit the reset button?