Signings no guarantee
It�s only April but if we�re to believe the rumblings, some clubs are already beginning to write up lists of potential signings for next season. While it�s obvious teams have had little time to take in the merits of this seasons roster, players, managers and officials all accept that in order for teams to have money to spend on the open market, they must determine who they can cut months prior to the June 30 deadline.
Signing new players is an odd concept, as it is perceived differently by the public to resigning established players. For many failing teams signing a quality player is seen as a ticket out of the cellar, despite the fact that this is seldom the case.
However resigning a player who is already established in the team can feel a little like eating leftover birthday cake: fantastic, but you�ve had it all before. Teams spending their entire cap resigning current players leads to many fans and sponsors feeling like their team is a little stale, with no potential for short term growth. This is despite the fact that most star players have been developed by their club over long term programs, and the transfer of high profile players from club to club each year is relatively low.
Some teams throw all their eggs in one basket and buy 1 or 2 representative quality players, while some buy prudently, spending little but on players that will develop over a 2 to 3 year period. Others pick up a bargain basement 30 year old looking for an instant injection of experience. Then of course there are the teams that seem to go through players like a dose of Epsom salts, hoping each new batch will quickly gel and go on to win a premiership.
We�re six rounds in and by now many new signings are either starting to find their feet, or are feeling the pressure to live up to the hype that followed them from their previous club. In looking at the relative success of the teams� recruitment policies, it�s worth noting that not one policy seems to have been successful so far this season, and all recruitment patterns have their shortcomings. Here�s a look how the teams� recruits have fared so far.
Cowboys (8 signings) � Spent most of their free money resigning big names. Are reaping the benefits of a policy of signing relative unknowns (e.g Southern, Webb, Smith and Sweeney) and developing them into quality first graders over the medium term.
Knights (5 signings) � Also spent a chunk of money resigning established players (including most of their pack). Carney has had a solid start to the season, while Davico waits in the wings for the rep seasons to start.
Panthers (10 signings) � Do you need to sign big name players to change the fortunes of your team? No, according to the mountain men. The Panthers signed a bunch of reserve/bench players to replace the like of Ben Ross, yet they continue win consistently.
Roosters (9 signings) � An example of what a high profile signing or two can do to a team. The squad has lacked cohesion, but Stuart knows the important form is at the end of the season. Proof that it�s rare that a signing can be a saviour.
Bulldogs (7 signings) � Signed a host of bargain basement players and some are proving good value. Will rely on a policy of developing recruits over a medium term plan.
Sea Eagles (5 signings) � Similar to the Roosters, but their big name signings are finding their feet a little better. Have the advantage of only losing 4 players last season.
Broncos (6 signings) � Only six signings but two (Ennis and Boyd) have played most of the season in first grade. Generally recruit only to complement their massive stock of junior talent.
Storm (8 signings) � Lost the likes of Bell, Kearns, Orford and Chan and gained very little in return, yet they haven�t started the season too badly. Have proven that a team�s success isn�t always built on who is gained and lost.
Sharks (8 signings) � Signed five regular first graders and lost five, and their form compares to last season. Should have bought themselves some depth.
Dragons (5 signings) � Modest signings but up and coming players are fighting it out with new signings for bench spots.
Tigers (6 signings) � Bought a number of first graders before going on to win the premiership. Have had mixed form, yet the new signings have been used sparingly.
Canberra (3 signings) � Signed fringe first graders who are getting a run. Some say they should have invested more in recruitment, but the club hopes their juniors will rise to the occasion soon.
Eels (0 signings) � Mostly kept the same squad as last year. Did they need fresh blood? Time will tell.
Souths- (8 signings) � Are hoping to turn some old heads and young hopefuls into a quality team. Have given nearly every signing a run so far and things aren�t looking too good.
Warriors (3 signings) � Haven�t spent money on depth, and lost some pretty good players last year. Should have signed a toiler that could fill a Kevin Campion style role.