Don’t fear NRL talent ‘drain’

There has been chatter in recent days about the news that Wigan Warriors forwards Gareth Hock, currently on loan at Widnes, and Lee Mossop will soon be heading to the NRL.

The pair are set to sign for Parramatta Eels, in a move which will hopefully work out really well for both players.

With increasing numbers of British players playing, and in some cases excelling, in the NRL, there have been some concerns that or own domestic competition may be in danger of suffering.

While there are concerns with the structure of Super League, the fact that Australian clubs, who have money to spend, don’t forget, is a tremendous testament to the work being done at some clubs in terms of developing players.

If that work is rewarded by big transfer fees down the line, then it has been a success. Of course, it is also rewarded by players having long, successful careers at the club that developed them, but that doesn’t always happen in the real world.

If NRL clubs have money to spend on players, then some of our clubs could really use it at the moment. Any kind of money coming into the European game is gratefully received.

That money can be used to further invest in youth, or to buy players from other clubs. Either way, it is money which is coming into Super League.

If we are worried about losing good players, then we must work harder to produce more. We should also, as Wigan have demonstrated by signing Andy Powell from rugby union, look to widen our own scouting net.

Look at rugby union sevens, and at rugby union in countries like Kenya and Spain. The fact that one day these players might be able to access the wealth and status that the NRL offers is another inducement to switch codes.

But we should also be scouting French rugby league properly, and looking at Scotland, Wales and Ireland in much more depth.

If more NRL cash comes our way then it is in our long term interests to invest some of it in developing the game in the rest of Britain and Ireland.

The growing leagues in countries such as Serbia should also be viewed as a potential source of players.

Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands do not have the greatest domestic soccer leagues, but their players perform regularly at the world’s biggest clubs, while youth development continues to churn out world class talent.

So we should not fear the possible ‘drain’ of players to the NRL. Rather, we should embrace it as an opportunity. An opportunity to show the Aussies that our players are good enough, and as an opportunity to bring much needed finance into the game here.

Finally, it is an opportunity to use the money that comes in for the good of clubs and the wider game, investing in more youth development and wider scouting networks.

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