Firstly thanks to Matthew Chantler our CEO for stepping in at late notice to write an interesting and informative column whilst I took a much needed break in Dubai prior to the busiest period for my business and the approach of the business end of the rugby season.
Despite enjoying the break and the sunshine I was still able to undertake what on the face of it could well be the best piece of business I have done at the club in the signing of Travis Burns.
Having lost Rangi from the squad Neil, Ando and I were obviously looking hard for a replacement and were aware Travis wasn’t getting in at Saints.
Neil and I watched him in the reserves against Warrington which was difficult to gauge as it was a bit of a non-contest and there seemed little happening at that time in our attempt to bring him to Leigh.
That led us to another excellent signing in Josh Drinkwater and we were fairly comfortable that we had the pivots covered with competition and would be good to go, as it were.
As I awoke on my first full day in Dubai I checked my emails and there was one from George Mimmis, who is Travis’ agent, enquiring if we still had an interest in him.
I thought this was a bit of sod’s law that there was the potential for him to come to our club after we had moved in a different direction, and were happy with what we had signed in Josh Drinkwater to add to the existing quality of Riddy and Ben.
However, there was also the double edged sword of further improving ourselves whilst at the same time preventing an opponent from strengthening by acquiring him.
I am quite a decisive guy and like to be in control of my own destiny. And whenever I am unsure about something I simply sleep on it and the settled or unsettled nature of the night generally brings me to a clear decision.
Throughout the day my mind kept niggling me to go for it and add Travis anyway.
Why not? I could afford it and the additional lure of preventing another club strengthening was niggling in my mind.
However, I was also aware of the pressure that placed on my coaching team, with four pivots fighting for two spots and this was really my quandary as both were going well of late and then there is the emotion of the outstanding service of Riddy for many a year.
I slept on it and although a somewhat unsettled night I woke very clear that my decision should be purely based on what gives the club the best possible opportunity of reaching the goals we have set and protects my investment and whilst I would find it emotionally difficult
I could not let my heart
cloud the judgement of my head.
I made a call to Jukesy and simply said to him that I can get Travis Burns and am prepared to add the finances to do so if you want him.
It was interesting to hear Neil have the exact same thought process that I had done.
Ultimately it would be his decision and he knew that and is obviously much closer to the players than I am.
It turned out to be far simpler for him as he said to me: “Derek if I don’t take this opportunity that you are presenting me to add such a quality player and then fall short of the goals we have set, I am setting myself up for a fall.
“There is no doubt his quality will add to the squad and it simply has to be a case of players competing for spots and I will manage the situation”.
That call shaped up the next couple of hours of my day as I worked through the deal with George and mike Rush at Saints.
Obviously there were others vying for Travis’ signature and one club in particular pushing hard so it was pleasing for me that Travis chose to come to Leigh, as ultimately, with a loan deal, the player has to agree to go to the club despite what the parent club might want based on what is its best financial offer.
Yet again we saw our
existing players as our best salespeople, namely on
this occasion Dayne Weston who is good mates with Travis.
And it was also the quality of the LSV and our great vociferous support that has now created a great atmosphere to play in that also helped close the deal.
By the following day Mike Rush had confirmed everything with Eamon and the deal was done.
I thank them both for the speedy manner in which this business was concluded.
I have to say I went to the bar with my mate Gaz and had a couple of pints with a nice smile on my face feeling a little like the cat that got the cream.
I returned on Friday evening and made the trip to Whitehaven with the team and for a moment thought I was still in Dubai as the sun was cracking the flags in Cumbria.
It was a great evening and I think is a good idea from Whitehaven to play early Saturday evening as travelling fans can make a weekend of it.
Travis made his appearance around the 30-minute mark and as the sun went down I was left in no doubt whatsoever that I had made the right decision to bring him to our club.
Here’s one for discussion.
One part of the game that has often frustrated me is when there is a scrum play and everyone ambles to it, having a drink, and it is almost like an unauthorised timeout in American Football.
This frustrates even more when it is done as a team has got momentum and is gaining ascendancy.
I’m not having a go at Whitehaven here but to use that game as an example, Travis kicks a fantastic 40/20 and our players work hard to get up the field to form the scrum only for this to stop the clock whilst the haven players amble back.
Now I don’t blame them and the rules provide for that but how different would it be if, say within five seconds of the attacking team forming the scrum, the ball could be played to their advantage.
And normal rules would apply to anyone in an offside position becoming involved.
This would mean that the other side would have to work just as hard to get back to form a scrum and have some defence in place.
It would speed up the game and allow the team who had gained the ascendancy to capitalise upon it.
I’m sure there will be issues with this and it may not be the perfect solution but could be food for thought and for further discussion.