Board index Super League Warrington Wolves The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity



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 Post subject: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:06 pm 
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Starting a new thread to reply to Wires71 in the Patton thread:

Wires71 wrote:This. Deserves it's own thread to be honest.

Our youth set up has a track record, dating back decades, of not providing players good enough for the 17. It's a simple as that. It needs a complete drains up review.

The typical process is this .

1) Player shows a bit of promise (not world beater by any means) but those who follow the academy tell us to watch out for them
2) In and out of 17 as quality just not good enough
3) Loaned out to Rochdale etc to get game time
4) Transferred to Widnes/Salford or below.

Few exceptions. Dwyer to Leeds and Philbin looks like he may be good enough.

I am afraid Toby King, George King and Declan Patton will all be going the same way as Evans, Williams, O'Brien, Laithwaite, Wilde, Ormsby, Glen Riley, Blythe (#1), ....


As a club we seem to have been very keen to push a "good news story" culture around our academy, for a long time now. The general narrative that we have been told seems to be that up to the end of the 1990s, we were disorganised in terms of youth development with little formal structure and just relied on using sign-on fees to get talented kids to join us and hope we found some good ones. Then during the DVDV era we set up the scholarship and from then on got a lot more formal structures in the youth set up and it became a lot more professional. For a good 15 years or more we've had lots of good news stories about the Academy in the Warrington Guardian, or at supporters events where club officials will say the right things about how we've invested hard and are starting to see the rewards of it in the lads coming through now. On this forum there will be people that follow the Academy giving glowing reports about various players and in the off season we always get threads like "the future's bright, the future's Wire" where people list a potential first team for a couple of years time full of home grown players and so on.

The feel good stories are always there, but where are the players?

The end result is the quality of players coming through and if we're really honest we haven't improved, we're stuck at the same level of producing one or two lads every four years or so who are good enough to be decent first teamers and a handful of others who follow the path Wires71 says above. This is nowhere near what the clubs who win trophies regularly like Leeds, Wigan and Saints are doing. They churn out internationals, players that sign for NRL clubs, and also some guys who aren't as good as their next batch of home grown talent and so they get moved on to clubs like us!

The last time we were at that level was in the early to mid 1990s when we brought through Harris, Sculthorpe, Lee Penny, Hilton, Wainwright, Roper and Knott. 2 superstars there plus a few others who were at least good SL players for a while. If we had produced at that sort of rate every decade I would be very happy. Instead this is what we have had:

DVDV era: Wood, Sibbit, Noone, Hulse, Highton, Alstead, Stenhouse, Campbell, Cowell

Cullen era: C Riley, Cooper, K Penny, Pickersgill, Blythe, Mitchell, Durbin

TS era: Currie, Dwyer, O'Brien, Philbin, Patton, R Evans, Williams, McCarthy, Ormsby, G Riley, D Bridge, B Evans, King, Wild, Smith, Johnson, Dagger, Livett

Probably around 4 of those were quality players who would have interested top sides. Then another 6 or 7 you could argue would be decent first team SL standard for a mid-table side. The rest were not good enough although in some cases they got a lot of games with us, that they would not have done at other clubs where there is more upwards pressure from the next generation coming through.

Something has not worked in our Academy set up. I understand you have to give it time, sure but we're talking nearly 20 years now and the disappointing thing is the quality of players coming through doesn't seem any better than it was in the early 2000s or late 1990s, and there are no real superstars to show for it. We are still streets behind Wigan, Saints and Leeds and although for a while we could compete with them in terms of money and signing experienced players hence our 3 Challenge Cups and various losing appearances in finals and league leaders shields, the Academy is a clear dividing line between us and them and until that's sorted out we will be fighting an uphill battle to match those clubs.






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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:36 pm 
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I think Philbin looks like the best we’ve produced from a young age for a long time. He’s an athletic lad, fast, good tackler, runs good lines, good footwork. I’m actually really impressed with him.

I don’t really know how long Currie was in our youth set-up but he’s arguably the best player in the team.

Other than that I’m scratching my head.






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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:55 pm 
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Good post. It's a complex subject that involves

1. Scouting - finding the players which we will need in 5 years.
2. Recruitment - beating off the likes of Wigan/Saints/Leeds to recruit them.
3. Developing the potential - taking a young player and giving them the skills and know how to develop to their potential.
4. Transitioning the young player into a full time 17 player.
5. Retaining the player should other clubs want to tempt them away.

Our academy is said to be world class. I wonder which of these 5 we do better than others.






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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:37 pm 
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SC's list is a damping indictment if how far our scouting/development of youth has fallen, since it's 90's revamp. Those opening names still sit very well with me (bar Knott, never kicked on, for me).

Since then, only Wood, Riley, Penny and Currie are the only ones to come close. The rest (bar permacrock Rhys Evans....what might have been) are merely flotsam and jetsam or plain tosh.

So that's it. 10 players in 25 years. That's p155p00r by most standards, let alone a club who's youth policy is looked on with envious eyes.

With RU going pro 20+ years ago, top notch Aussies don't come here anymore, apart from idiots who can't behave themselves, and our underperforming youth policy, no wonder Moran's chequebook is regularly on his desk.






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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:48 pm 
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Can you add Ben Harrison & possibly James Laithwaite to that list. Terry Newton was also an academy player (before Leeds poached him)

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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:16 pm 
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Is it the quality of the young players or the quality of coaching post academy years? We seem to have a glass ceiling where our young players don't progress once they come to first team level. Daz Clark is only just showing his Cas form & you look at teams like Cas & Salford & Wakefield & the coaches are getting the best out of what players they have ,they are not spending big money on players . Myler & O'Brien have improved greatly since they moved to other clubs where the coaches had a bit of confidence in them.

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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:31 pm 
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ninearches wrote:Is it the quality of the young players or the quality of coaching post academy years? We seem to have a glass ceiling where our young players don't progress once they come to first team level. Daz Clark is only just showing his Cas form & you look at teams like Cas & Salford & Wakefield & the coaches are getting the best out of what players they have ,they are not spending big money on players . Myler & O'Brien have improved greatly since they moved to other clubs where the coaches had a bit of confidence in them.


Did Myler improve by going to the Catalans Dragons?

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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:34 pm 
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Well he's improved enough to get a job at Leeds .

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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:47 pm 
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I think part of the problem is the vast chasm between Academy and SL level. Someone like Patton is a good example. Whatever your view of his abilities, he outgrew the Academy level rapidly, had considerable potential but wasn't ready for SL. You could argue his lack of progress stems from being thrown in too early too young.

In the old days he'd have graduated to A team, where he'd have faced a more demanding combination of senior pros, squad players and similar level apprentices.

The only place for promising Wire players to go after the Academy is Rochdale, and this seems to be viewed as more of a punishment than anything. Certainly I can't recall anyone going there, ripping it up and being rewarded with first team rugby.

How did everyone afford to run an A team in pre-SL days with pre-SL finances but now claims it's an unaffordable luxury?

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 Post subject: Re: The Academy: 2 decades of mediocrity
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:13 am 
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morrisseyisawire wrote:I think part of the problem is the vast chasm between Academy and SL level. Someone like Patton is a good example. Whatever your view of his abilities, he outgrew the Academy level rapidly, had considerable potential but wasn't ready for SL. You could argue his lack of progress stems from being thrown in too early too young.

In the old days he'd have graduated to A team, where he'd have faced a more demanding combination of senior pros, squad players and similar level apprentices.

The only place for promising Wire players to go after the Academy is Rochdale, and this seems to be viewed as more of a punishment than anything. Certainly I can't recall anyone going there, ripping it up and being rewarded with first team rugby.

How did everyone afford to run an A team in pre-SL days with pre-SL finances but now claims it's an unaffordable luxury?


This doesn't seem to affect the youth development at Wigan or Leeds. Nah I think the problem is specific to Warrington.






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