The Daily Telegraph reported recently that the Canberra Raiders are interested in signing Dom Young.
Ok let’s take a step back. They said god’s football team is one of nine teams interested in signing Dom Young. I don’t know if you’ve checked lately, but that would put the Milk in more hot competition for his signature than to make the top 8. I didn’t know Dom Young was this kind of prized asset.
To be fair, Young is a handy player. He’s proven in his short time with Newcastle that he does powerful work in yardage, is a competent finisher, and capable under the high ball. This gives him something in common with something close to 20 other wingers around the league. The work he gets through is fine (22nd among wingers in average yardage according to Fox Sports), and he’s hard to get a handle on (18th among wingers in average tackle breaks) but it’s hardly elite. His finishing is good too, but again is “the most wanted man in league” good? No it isn’t. But it’s worthwhile having him on your team.
For the Raiders Young would theoretically be a replacement for Jordan Rapana. Rapana is moving into the last year of a contract, and at 33 is starting to get to a point where the club might (or he might) think about what’s next. At the right price Young could fill that role adequately with a bit of upside.
Even if you accept that premise (and I don’t), that requires ignoring that the Raiders have a host of young talent coming through in the outside backs that provide pretty much the same things. Albert Hopoate proved capable in yardage and under the high ball last season, and would cost a fraction of chasing the Englishmen. James Schiller got thrown in before he was ready, but showed he was a possible and capable solution in the future. He also would come at something close to the minimum. Harley Smith-Shields may be shifted to the wing to accommodate Seb Kris, and is probably three of four games of first grade experience from being as capable as Young but with infinitely more upside.
It just would be a weird place to spend cap and capital trying to fill. Wingers aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but free-agent wingers aren’t the difference between being good and not (see how either the 2021 Dogs or the 2022 Raiders feel about Nic Cotric). There’s a lot of talented outside backs that could can turn into quality first graders without having to get into a nine-way battle for their services. Canberra would be spending precious cap space and back-office effort chasing a resource it could replicate near enough internally. It just would be silly.
Of course, the likelihood is that the Raiders interest extended about as far as a conversation with Young’s manager that we imagine went like this:
Agent: you interested in signing Dom at all?
Joel Carbone: Uh…sure?
To be honest this feels more like Young’s manager trying to create some leverage for the Englishmen as he comes into a contract year. The Knights recently brought Titans’ winger Greg Marzhew to town, who, like Young, is good in yardage and a capable finisher. One might consider that the organisation firing a broadside to the Englishmen’s presumed substantial contract demands. That the manager has sought to rebalance the leverage in that situation by inflating the interest of clubs around the game is hardly surprising.
So it’s not even a Raiders Raise situation (Jack I still love you). This is the majority of the competition being used by a manger to eek a bigger commitment out of the home club (or some sap happy to pay a free agent tax for a position they could likely feel internally). Young is a worthy player, but he’s just not worth the effort it takes to compete with other clubs to get. That’s not to say the Raiders shouldn’t keep tabs on the situation. If Young’s relationship with the Knights continues to deteriorate then a distressed asset might be work picking up on the cheap. But let’s be frank, that’s not what this is.
There a bigger fish to fry for the Milk (more on that coming). There are as good and better options internally, that won’t require paying a free agent tax to get. There are contract negotiation shenanigans at Newcastle that are causing this noise. In short, Dom Young isn’t coming to Canberra.
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Another great piece, Dan. Really enjoying your analysis on all things Raider. Hopefully the club has moved past being treated as contract fodder by player agents, the bane of the NRL. One question in my mind is whether Jarrod Croker will successfully come back, given he has been virtually off the air for two years. If he breaks down again, surely that will be it. I am not a student of medically induced retirement rules re the Cap but if that created more space, then any talent that remains available or comes on the market eg. a disgruntled player, then more scope for beefing up the roster is there.
Cheers Dan, look forward to more of your work.
Regards, Chris McLenaghan (Chris Mac on FB).