Player development more important than Super League to new Valencia club

Valencia Huracanes’ model is not reliant on Super League and they are committed to developing Spanish players, according to chief executive Dean Buchan.

The spotlight will fall on the new club in January when they host Championship side Featherstone in a pre-season game.

They have applied to enter League 1 in 2021, and are awaiting the decision of the RFL, who will put it to their clubs when the finer details of the application have been ironed out.

Buchan said: “We’ve made an application to join League 1 in 2021 and we want to use this game to showcase what it’s like to come here and play, and deliver an experience for travelling fans.

“We’ve answered every question that the RFL have asked in detail from  who we are, where we will play, how we envisage getting players, our income and expenses, and why Valencia etc. So its up to the RFL and member clubs to decide if they like our proposal now.

“I think we’re unique in that we have formed a club and then made an application – we try to be as open as possible. Any fan, owner or club can see what we are doing, people can call us, go on our website and make a decision on fact, rather than if a random group just said they wanted to enter a team.

“People are excited about the potential and we’ve had lots of positive feedback.”

With Toronto showing the route from League 1 to Super League, there has been significant attention on further overseas clubs joining the RFL’s system, with New York and Ottawa also slated for joining.

While those clubs are heavily financially backed, and in the Wolfpack’s case making huge signings like Sonny Bill Williams, Valencia’s approach will differ.

“Our key aspects are player development and sustainability. We’re made different to others in the expansion mix. We are not trying to build a UK team based in Spain, we want to develop Spanish talent.

“Our model isn’t based on Super League. We would aim to reach the Championship in three to five years. That doesn’t mean we can’t dream, but we’d rather spend three or four years in League 1 and develop Spanish players.

“Everyone knows that currently there aren’t enough players and participation is reducing across the board yet we’re in a region where it’s increasing and we can provide a new conveyor belt of talent in years to come to the world of rugby league.

“We’re not going to turn Spanish guys in to superstars, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we have a superstar somewhere, we’ve just got to discover them.

“We’re not coming in to dominate. We want to participate and compete within a sensible plan.

“I think a key question to any expansion club should be about player development as otherwise we just have lots of clubs around Europe and north America full of UK players and that doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

“People ask am I worried about other clubs coming in for our players – to me, that would be the best thing that could ever happen. It would show that our model is working. We want to be a hub for young talent both Spanish and further afield and if that means we have bigger clubs coming in for our players then I’d happily drive them to the airport myself!

“That might sound strange but we are realistic in our starting point and whilst we develop,  if a player has the opportunity to better their position or play at a higher level, then we would support that.”

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