AGENTS OF CHANGE
It’s not a straightforward business understanding all the details and ramifications of joining the professional ranks which is why First XV players need to take expert advice and find a reputable agent.
The professional game can be a complex and uncertain work environment which is why its best to use an accredited agent.
There is an insatiable demand for high impact, contact sport athletes in this part of the world. Which is both exciting for those who are lucky enough to have been blessed with the appropriate physique and talent and also a little worrying.
There is no shortage of opportunity. The numbers are still relatively tiny in terms of how many young men will actually make it all the way to rugby’s professional ranks, but they are higher than they have ever been.
There is also unprecedented interest from other football codes. League has always had its eye on New Zealand’s First XV, but so, too, now does the AFL and believe it or not, the NFL.
Demand outstripping supply – that’s a good thing for the labour market. Prospective employers have to spend a bit, offer a few perks and go that extra mile to entice the players they want. All good so far.
On the surface it looks like there is nothing to fear – star in First XV, sit back and watch the offers come rolling in. Except it’s not that simple.
It’s a bit like anything in life, the highest offer is not always the best offer.
A young player may be better served joining a less successful province at first where he’s more likely to win game time. It might be that a province has a specific coach with a reputation for expertly developing young players in certain positions.
There is also the issue of knowing whether an offer is really a good offer. It might be that a Year 13 First XV player picks up three offers this year. One might be better than the others but that doesn’t mean it’s a good offer.
Without expert knowledge of market rates how could any First XV player or their parents be sure they are being fairly treated?
Finally, there is a hidden level of complexity behind a good playing contract and it is, almost certainly, beyond the skill-set of an uncle or close family friend who may have played a bit of club footy back in the day to successfully act as an intermediary.
Nope, those First XV players who are likely to be offered some kind of contract to play at Academy, ITM Cup or Super Rugby level, need to use an agent.
And that creates a whole new set of potential problems. There are all sorts of predators operating in this space. There are all sorts of middle men trying to get in on the act – make a fast buck by clipping the ticket along the way. There are all sorts of dubious characters to watch out for – promising more than they can deliver and being equally economical with the truth.
Not everyone operating as an agent is trained, vetted and reputable. Plain and simple – there are some sharks out there.
But there are also experienced and skilled operators, too. Look at the likes of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino – they have built long and successful careers that have, probably, set them up financially for life.
They have used their status as world class players to win endorsements and sponsorships, while also building useful assets for when they can no longer play. They have taken care of their performances on the field, but their respective agents and advisers have been instrumental in helping them off it.
A good agent will pay for his or herself at least 10 times over and good advice is essential to first making it to the next stage and then surviving in it.
A good agent can help set you up – not only in terms of a playing contract, but also with contacts and a network of people that may enable you to thrive on and off the field.’ JEROME KAINO
SMART MOVE Aaron Cruden was well advised when he decided to leave the Hurricanes and join the Chiefs.