Sometimes there’s good news that relates to football, but is more about nice things happening to the right people.
It was announced Tuesday that Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had signed a three year extension with the Canberra Raiders, until the end of the 2023 season.
This is good for the Raiders because it means they have locked in a young fullback who is already showing he can perform at the top level. The reported likely figure (around 500k a season) seems like a lot but actually represents good value for all involved.
Update: it since been reported at FoxSports that the figure is closer to 330k a year, which is even better value for the Raiders. That is round about the average wage of an NRL player, roughly 1/30th of the cap. That’s incredible value.
Charnze has had an incredible year in 2019. He’s currently fourth in total metres, and his willingness and ability to take hard yardage runs for the full 80 minutes has been a huge part of the Raiders success. Just last round he was taking hit ups deep into the second overtime, and took an important carry on the game-winning drive. The last few weeks aside has been as safe as houses under the high ball, and generally has good positioning on grubber kicks and longer versions.
Some worry that the Raiders are paying a lot (over a long time) for someone who has less than one full season of continuous play to his resume. In a sense I can understand it being considered somewhat of a risk. However it’s about a third less than you’d pay for an elite fullback – for example Jack Wighton was rumoured to be on around 750k a year, while James Tedesco is rumoured to be pushing a million (though only god knows how much do that is on the cap).
Nicoll-Klokstad has room to improve for sure. He has yet to develop a strong ball-playing game; this puts the Raiders at a disadvantage because they can’t run many of the shapes and second-man plays common across the NRL. However, Charnze has shown that this skill is not beyond him, and continues to improve his passing. In the last few weeks his throne handy last passes for tries at least twice (against Melbourne and against the Sharks). Given an actual offseason to develop a connection with Aidan Sezer/George Williams and John Bateman, we might see him add a new facet to his game in the future. He also needs to clean up those high takes, but even with recent errors he’s been as good as any fullback in defusing attacking kicks.
Given he’s already playing at a very high level, the question is more whether he can continue to produce at this level and do the work it takes to improve over time. If he does this contract goes from ‘at value’ to ‘bargain’. So does he have the necessary character to build a passing game while keeping his running and defensive games in tip top shape?
Lol what? Of course he does. By all reports Nicoll-Klokstad works as hard as anyone in the squad. He is a genuinely good character guy off the field (even before he had the profile that caused people to notice). He seems humble enough to understand that one season doesn’t make a career. He may not be a ‘certainty’, but no one ever is, and he’s exactly the kind of mix of talent and character worth a long-term risk.
But rather than worry too much about the pros and pros of this contract, let’s just embrace the human being for a second. Nicoll-Klokstad has traveled to a new country for an insecure job. He’s brought his young family to new surrounds in the hope of building a career and a life for them. In this contract he’s gone as close as you can in his chosen profession to building the kind of life that I’m sure he and his partner always dreamed about.
So forgive me for being sappy. It’s not always that the good guys get what they deserve. Today is a rare occasion and cause the celebrate. I hope Charnze gets a second to reflect on what he’s achieved.
Sometimes the good guys win.