The Sportress

The Pryce of Bullshit

BY DAN

The Daily Telegraph reported the Raiders had interest in Will Pryce, 19 year old emerging star from England. Unfortunately some the claims of the article are so questionable it’s hard to know likely this actually is.

Let’s start with the obvious. Will Pryce is probably very good at football. I don’t watch as much Super League as I should (I’d say I have a life but that’s an exaggeration. More I get distracted by shiny things) but it’s safe to say he’s a exciting emerging talent. Based off highlights packages like this he looks like he has masterfully quick feet, excellent hands, and willingness to ball play in the line which would translate well to NRL footy. To me Pryce looks like a prototypical one that could play a bit of six as needed. It doesn’t really gel with the fact that Canberra already had two fullbacks who could conceivably be their long term choice. They also have a six who is very much a runner too, and presumably very much in the long term interests of the club. But stockpiling talent is hardly a bad thing.

Unfortunately the reporting of this supposed interest doesn’t actually help understand if this chase is occuring or why. Instead, there’s some grand assertions in the piece that call into question the key claims of the article.

First it implies a causality between the Raiders looking to England and the Daily Telegraph writing an article.

After reading a Daily Telegraph report about Super League players being showcased in the end-of-year World Cup, Canberra is planning to take a group of officials and coaches to England on a fact-finding journey to monitor the playing talent.

This fucking article.

So Canberra, a team affectionately referred to by many in the media as “Little England” (probably including people at the Daily Telegraph) has decided to do a “fact finding journey” because of an article in the paper? If it was true it would be an example of galling maladministration, basing the allocation of scouting resources based off what the Tele says. And while it might be what Peter V’Landys does, we know the Raiders don’t make decisions like that.

How do we know? Well the Milk have signed a few Englishmen recently that haven’t required the Tele’s useful realisation that there is in fact an entire professional competition in England. Indeed as Don Furner is quoted in the article as saying

We have a desire to go over to England. We try to go overseas every four or five years to freshen up the staff and coaches. There hasn’t been much international travel over the past few years but this would be an opportunity to take over some coaching and marketing staff.

Yes we go over. We haven’t for the last two years because of travel restrictions. Yes we’ll go again. Presumably they’re a bit reluctant to get into transfer games after how much they spent on Bateman and Williams only for them to hightail after a short time. But maybe England will prove a fertile ground again in the future.

Hardly revelatory stuff for a side that has had as many five Englishmen in games in the starting 13 in recent years (someone check if Hodgson, Bateman, Williams, Sutton and Whitehead started a game together, I can’t be bothered). The Raiders have found talent at arguably less known than Pryce (e.g emerging legend Harry “feel the Rush” Rushton). They’ve also spent the best part of 40 years having to look for talent where others won’t. As we’ve written before, first it was in Queensland, then New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Even Sierra Leone. England has been the story lately, but there’s four New Zealand internationals currently in the likely starting 13. The idea that Dean Ritchie’s “scouting” are driving Canberra’s recruitment just doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny whatsoever.

The article does state that the Raiders made contact with Pryce’s dad, former English international Leon Pryce, but says Don Furner was “reluctant to confirm any approach”, something that written without the confusing language could be described as “denied an approach.” Maybe Canberra chatted to Leon. Maybe they asked about Will to see if it was something worth pursuing. Unfortunately the mess that is this article doesn’t really help us get any clarity as to the nature of any interaction the club and Pryce have had. Other than the nebulous idea of “interest”. Unrelated I am interested losing 10 kilograms. Will it happen? Well there’s a few steps before we get to that (like maybe I should brush these muffin crumbs off my shirt).

And then we finally get to the nub of the issue. The seed that birthed this rare bullshit tree. From parsing key parts of this article it’s hard to not deduce that this information came to the Tele via Pryce’s English agents, presumably to drum up interest in the young player ahead of the World Cup later this year.

English agents confirmed overnight that Canberra had contacted Leon Pryce about his son…

English player agents are urging NRL clubs to watch their talent compete at the World Cup, which starts on October 15.

The play is obvious. Get his name out there, he delivers in prime time, and you get yourself a bidding war. It wouldn’t be the first time there have been concerted efforts to make Pryce known in Australia. The Daily Telegraph is basically running an informercial, only with less steak knives. It’s the old Raider Raise (shouts to Jack Cronin) only international. We made it baby!

The Raiders may end up signing Pryce at the end of all this. They’re doing their due diligence. They’re searching for talent to complement the squad. Maybe they have an idea for Pryce that fits with Xavier Savage and Jack Wighton. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

When it comes to England the Raiders have been there, done that, doing it tomorrow (shouts to my mid-90s Pepsi Max fans). But if they go again it won’t be because the Daily Telegraph is a talent scout. It won’t be because newspaper articles revealed to them the existence of hitherto unheard of professional leagues in far off lands. It’ll be because this is how Canberra has operated for near 40 years.

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