Who was the last English youngster that the entire Super League fought over? In all my time following rugby league, I cannot remember the last young player that attracted this much competition for a signature on a contract.
So for Richard Myler it must be very pleasing and humbling to know that you are being admired from every level of the game. The 19-year-old Widnesian is currently enjoying first-team rugby at Salford, while also finding himself thrust into the International limelight after some superb performances.
His single-handed demolition of France was a superb indication of what to expect over the second-half of Super League along with England’s Four Nations assault.
While not necessarily a Salford product, his development is a glowing reference to what can be achieved with youngsters in the academy if given their chance at an higher level.
Leeds and St Helens have long led the way in terms of academy prospects, whilst clubs such as Wakefield, Castleford, Wigan, Bradford and Hull are now supporting those with much more development at the lower level. A sure sign that franchises and licensing is working?
Well, perhaps. But licensing is much more about that, but the long term security has certainly given clubs the opportunity to get their club in shape at all levels, rather than just focusing on the short-team solution at first-team level.
It is tantamount we continue this development across all clubs, with most looking at Salford with envy for the successful blueprint.
Myler has the support of Stefan Ratchford and Jordan Turner who have perhaps been left off the radar with the media frenzy that the youngster has attracted, and I think all three have bright futures, something which will be beneficial to the England side.
But it is Myler’s future which perhaps bears more media attractiveness than what he is doing on the field in 2009. His agent Martin Offiah has already been given the responsibility of dealing with contract offers, but it is imperative that we do not end up with a football-esque bidding war.
While money is part and parcel of the game, many clubs could put themselves at financial risk trying to obtain the signature of a player that will carry the side for the foreseeable future.
Many people say it is better if the player stops at the club where has been developed, and staying at Salford would certainly be a good sign for the club. But it is a question of loyalty and pride, or money and success for Myler.
Whilst Salford have offered a record-breaking contract offer for their starlet, Tony Smith and Warrington seem to be the front-runners for his signature after his current deal expires in 18 months.
That must be a very attractive proposition for the youngster who would be under the guidance and permanent eye of his national coach.
Wigan will always be linked with players, whilst other play-off clubs such as Bradford, Huddersfield, Castleford and Harlequins could potentially be interested. The future 18-months could be interesting.