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3 days ago
I don't know about you, but patience is not one of my strong points.
I hate waiting in line at the shops.
I hate waiting for Rebecca Wilson to say something remotely intelligent.
But more importantly, I hate waiting to see my beloved Canberra Raiders hold up the Telstra Premiership trophy at season's end once again.
By the looks of things, I could be waiting a while.
Most Raiders fans are of the opinion that Raiders management should do something drastic to turn this club around, including recruiting some of the biggest names in the game. While every Raiders fan on the planet would drool at the prospect of snaring some high quality forwards such as Willie Mason, Jason Cayless and/or Luke Bailey, it's just not going to happen, for several reasons.
I don't live in Canberra, but to be honest, it's not the most interesting of places. For someone like Willie Mason who absolutely loves the Sydney nightlife, there is little to no chance that he'd move shop to a more quiet and suburban Canberra lifestyle.
Oh, and not to mention that for Big Willie there's not as many taxi's in Canberra, but I digress.
Why else would a high-profile player come to Canberra? It's not like we're an out of Sydney team like Newcastle or Brisbane where we have big stars like Andrew Johns or Darren Lockyer that players want to play with. It certainly wouldn't be for the representative opportunities, because we haven't had that many. I don't see a player thinking "Hm... I might go to Canberra to enhance my representative career!" because after all, we're not the Roosters...
The only way we'd be able to attract top-line players to the Raiders is by luring them with a hefty bank cheque. At the moment, even that's not possible.
Earlier this week, Raiders Chief Executive Simon Hawkins stated that the club's current focus was to upgrade existing contracts to Raiders youngsters coming through the ranks, rather than actually purchasing any top names for season 2006. Michael Weyman, Phil Graham, Marshall Chalk, Kris Kahler and Terry Campese are just a few who must be re-signed after 2006 to ensure future success of the club, as every one of the aforementioned players have the ability to be a part of a premiership winning side.
This is the dilemma that faces every single club in the NRL today.
Do you go with the quick fix by buying established premiership winning players at the expense of keeping some future prospects? Or, do you try to be patient by investing faith in these juniors who could be stars for years to come?
There are some definite examples of each of these philosophies being applied.
Take Newcastle. They put most of their eggs in one basket, with the oft-injured Andrew Johns. There is no doubt that Joey Johns is the heart and soul of Newcastle, but even the staunchest Newcastle supporter had to question him being re-signed last year, especially after hardly playing any football whatsoever in the last two seasons. His salary could?ve gone towards buying some depth at the club, and after seeing the way they've struggled with injuries this year, they could have really done with that money now.
Then on the other side of the coin, there's the Bulldogs. They have bought a few big names over the years, but for the most part they've stuck to their guns and decided to develop their juniors. Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason and Roy Asotasi are just three great examples of a club having faith in its system, because the Dogs knew that a year like 2004 would eventually deliver them a premiership.
As a Raiders fan, it's been heartbreaking to see so much talent leave the nation's capital over the past few years - players like Ruben Wiki, Michael Monaghan, Mark McLinden and Jason Bulgarelli (wait, scratch that last one) were favourites of mine, and it would?ve been great to see all of these players stay with Canberra, but that's just a part of football.
Hopefully a repeat of Michael Monaghan - a junior in his prime, leaving the Raiders and fulfilling his potential at another club - will be prevented.
It's the exciting juniors of the club that needs to be secured, and if that means waiting longer than I had hoped for a premiership, then so be it.
At least I'll know that we will have built a premiership winning team the right way.
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