The young and the restless

They wanted to move back home, get a game, stop waiting and start over. ”Watch this space,” one player manager told The Age, after six players quit their clubs after one, two or three years. ”Check back in five years. In five years, it could be an epidemic.”
Nanjing Night Net

That was just 12 months ago. But by the end of the trade period, 12 players aged 21 or under had switched clubs, with the western Sydney-bound Jed Lamb to come. It seemed worth asking the question again: what’s going on with the kids?

Like last year, each player that wanted out had his own reasons. Some wanted to go home. Five were fleeing Brisbane. One, Dom Tyson, helped the Giants get their hands on the No.2 draft pick less than two years after they chose him at No.3. Sydney couldn’t match the offer put to Lamb.

Still, 13 is a lot. Are today’s young players, generally speaking, more impatient? Many managers think they are. ”It doesn’t matter where the player’s picked or which club they’ve been drafted to. When you sit down with them before the season and write down their goals, they all want to play senior footy. It’s no surprise that the biggest lure a club can offer is opportunity,” said Ned Guy.

”The other thing is, the kids all know each other. They’ve kept track of each other for years and they have a much bigger sense of how good they are, or where they fit in. If they’re seeing guys get games for GWS when they’re not, and their own form has been pretty good, they start wondering when their turn will come. A lot of them do want it to happen right now.”

There are other reasons. The savvy kids read all the pre-draft previews, said Tom Petroro, and start out with a far greater sense of their own value than they might have eight or nine years ago.

They’re growing up now in the world of free agency, watching older teammates take greater control of their own destinies and make decisions that money and success have a lot to do with.

”I think a lot of them are starting to look at the sport as a profession, from a young age,” said Petroro. ”They get more publicity, so they have a much stronger opinion on their own value and a much more commercial focus. They back themselves more. There’s a lot who are happier to sign a two-year deal because they’re confident, rather than take the security and get three years.

”They’re seeing other players move more easily and more frequently, as well. They’re more prepared to do it, whereas a player who’s 29 or 30 and born in an era when no one moved, finds it a really difficult thing to do.”

They have also become more sought after. Clubs have expressed their interest in getting some of his clients back, said Nick Gieschen, on the very night they have been drafted. He thinks clubs have started to chase young talent more aggressively, given how thoroughly Gold Coast and the Giants have dominated the last few drafts. And as Petroro points out, trading a good kid in at 20 means you could still get a lot of games from him.

”The value of a second-year player going into his third year has gone through the roof,” he said. ”You’re basically getting a whole career out of them. If you’re bringing in someone who could potentially play 10 more years, it’s a pretty good investment.”

Gieschen agrees. ”Interstate clubs have had a lot of the early picks in the last few years. More Victorian kids have gone interstate, so I think that’s one reason it seems like a lot of them are wanting to come home,” he said.

”I think the clubs are getting smarter, getting in contact earlier, and it works for a club like the Giants because they can trade these guys when their value is high and get some good picks back. It means a lot goes back onto the clubs that draft them – not to give them games they don’t deserve, but to pick the right ones, sell them the future and make them want to stay.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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