The Warriors, for a while now, have considered themselves a development club. Throughout the Wayne Scurrah regime the club would back its ability to find young kids and turn them into stars rather than trying their luck on the open market. They decided to adopt this approach because it is more cost effective than paying slightly over the odds for established players across the Tasman and they have a huge catchment area to cast their net to find talented kids. The results have been mixed.
Few clubs could rival the Warriors achievements in the Under 20s over the past eight years and a significant number of those players have progressed to be first grade regulars. That success however has not translated into first grade success however.
The problem with developing exclusively New Zealand juniors is that the same mould of player it turned out over and over again. If one of these players has some strengths in certain areas, many will have the same strengths. If a player is weak in a particular area, many of them have the same issue. Outside backs, back-rowers and front-rowers learn how to become professional players in the New Zealand environment with ease. It has been the task of finding halves to play with structure where the club has found it more difficult.
The Kiwis have enjoyed a terrific ride to the top of the international game over the past few years but many of those Kiwi stars have honed their talents in the Australian environment before making it big.
For this reason I would like to see the Warriors employ scouts across the Tasman to identify potential Under 20s players to mix in with the players they identify here in New Zealand. That will mean that the quota of Kiwi kids coming through at the club will reduce but if they’re good enough they’ll get picked up by other clubs anyway. It already happens – the Australian clubs have scouts looking closely throughout New Zealand and many head over to Australia before the Warriors even catch sight of them.
If the Aussie sides are looking for juniors on both sides of the Tasman, shouldn’t the Warriors do the same?