“I can’t comprehend how it doesn’t work.”
I echo the above comments made by Shaun Wane on the current Reserves system at the Wigan Warriors media day.
Warrington Wolves and Hull FC are the latest clubs to ditch their second-string sides and will rely heavily on their dual-registration partnerships with Rochdale Hornets and Doncaster respectively this year.
Apparently, it costs approximately £30,000 per-year to run a Reserves side. I don’t believe this figure because why would a club have to pay that much? Players and coaches salaries are already paid anyway, whether they are in the first team or Under-19s, so all I can think of that would cost money with the Reserves would literally be coach travel and food.
Players are slipping through the net because if they aren’t ready to play Super League when they are 19-years-old then they are released and go to lower league clubs or even drop out of the game all together. It’s a shambles.
It doesn’t take a mastermind to know that people develop at different ages. Some players are ready mentally and physically to play at the highest level when they are 18 while others are only ready to play Super League when they are 23. It just varies.
It’s scary to think of how many talented players Rugby League has lost over the years because of there being no reserves.
Wane has brought through more homegrown players at Wigan than any other coach in Super League and explained why he wants a proper Reserves structure at the media day.
He said: “Me personally, I don’t see how our club would function without it.
“When I’m getting clips from when players have played for Swinton on dual-reg – it’s not the same but when we play St Helens in a Reserve fixture and they are trained by our coaches and I get a video straight after the game and can talk to the players – it’s miles better. It just fits with us.
“I can’t comprehend how it doesn’t work. I can’t talk about the financial implications with other clubs but it definitely works for our club.
“We are going to have to play a few teams a few times (this year) but we just have to make the best of it.”
I can’t help but agree with everything he says about the Reserves.
There is always talk of why Super League is behind the NRL and the Reserves competition is a big factor, there’s no doubt about it.
NRL clubs actually have feeder clubs who act as a Reserves team, something which only looks like a dream for Super League at the moment.
And if you look at players who make their debut in the NRL, they are normally around 23 or 24, not 18 or 19 like in Super League! We aren’t letting players develop and grow properly. Clubs are forced to throw them in at the deep end.
Special mentions must go to the lower league clubs in Leigh Centurions, Halifax and Keighley Cougars who are showing some of the top-tier clubs up and running second-string sides this year.
In my opinion, the RFL should make it compulsory for all Super League clubs to have a Reserves team. We would see the benefits within a couple of years with the amount of highly talented players produced.