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.

NZ Rugby World - First XV - - CON­TENTS -

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.

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