So, from reading these forums it seems clear that we shouldn’t buy top players because:
(1) we will end up paying “overs”
(2) Blair made us afraid to ever buy a top player ever again
(3) it comes at the expense of our junior talent
My thoughts are that since we merged 15 years ago we have had the advantage of both the Wests and Balmain juniors (arguably the biggest combined nursery). Yet, we have only made 3 finals appearances and our only victory came with Prince, a star “import”. Gareth Ellis, another import, was a major factor in our other finals appearances. Currently, Martin Taupau is the closest thing we have to a star “imported” signing and he starts on the bench.
Compare our recent history to that of Melbourne (not exactly an historic rugby league stronghold with a junior foundation). They have been around for 17 years and have missed the finals only twice, while being top 6 every other year. Sure, they cooked the books, but money talks. They are the extreme example, but you only need to look at Bunnies/Manly/Dogs/Roosters to see a team blended with local and “imported” talent. They have built a self-perpetuating dynasty of success and self-belief. Not just in their players but in their fans and management. We need that swagger.
With that confidence (and success) we will be able to attract greater cash flow from sponsors and media which enables both junior development AND more major player signings.
So, re the juniors argument: we need juniors, they are our bloodline. But it is foolish for us as fans to expect any degree of success from them alone, because it has been tested and simply does not yield results. We need to buy or “import” talent.
If you are prepared to accept that reality then why are we umming and ahhing over someone like Merrin? Newsflash! The guy is not going to be the messiah, nor will any other individual signing. We have to enter the player market aggressively and continue to sign top echelon players more regularly; not dawdle out of fear that our next signing might be a Blair sequel. True, we may not be in with a chance re Merrin, but seriously, as fans aren’t we all sick of being the team that does not attract top talent?
Thus, I simply do not agree with the coach/club stance to ignore the player market. If we do not have the money then that is an issue for which our management should be held accountable. Even the hapless, scandalous Sharkies can attract a sponsorship that enables them to constantly recruit top talent. So, for me it is either new players or a new board of management.
As fans of this great joint venture I think we have all been patient enough. We have been in the “rebuilding” phase for ten years now. Enough is enough. This team has been together for a good few years now. Give us results; make the top 8 FFS! Then give us new blood. Do that or get rid.
P.S. I am not an unrealistic fan. I know our chances this year are not great, but that is what I’ve said before every season. And I’m sick of it.