Wakefield Wildcats head coach Agar questions RFL Academy changes

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HEAD coach Richard Agar has questioned the Rugby Football League’s (RFL) decision to revamp the Academy set-up for 2013.

League bosses have scrapped the under-18s and under-20s competitions from next season to form just one under-19s competition.

The aim is “to increase the efficiency of player development systems whilst maintaining quality” but Agar, speaking at a Supporters Trust fans’ forum at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Tuesday, believes the changes are “far from ideal”.

“Personally I’d prefer the old style A team and reserve grade, I’d love it to still be like that,” he said.

“I think it would give some of our younger guys a little bit more time to flourish.

“We have to make decisions on these guys aged 19 or 20 which is very difficult to do.

“The system at the moment does not allow us scope to keep enough of these young kids for an extra year or two and that’s far from ideal.”

Agar pointed to the positives of the dual registration system, that allowed players such as Danny Cowling and Lucas Walshaw experience a Grand Final with Doncaster last season.

But he says some players, including two at Wakefield, could have trouble playing regular rugby league at the level they require next term.

“You can imagine now there is a massive influx of players at this age on the game right now,” he commented.

“The Championship has been flooded with these lads because the under-20s competition has disappeared.

“You have your bigger [Super League] clubs that are generally stocked with a lot more players and I dare say the clamour to get their players on dual registration is more so [than for players at Wakefield].

“We’ve had some issues getting at least two of our guys some football for next season, it’s that serious for us at the moment.

“If we have a 28-man squad with 17 guys playing every week we still have a surplus amount of players to get games.

“It’s worrying for the game.”

Agar pointed to Leeds Rhinos’ England international Jamie Peacock as a good example of players developing relatively late - and the danger of seeing these players of the future leave the game.

“I don’t think the talent pool in the game is that big that we need to be almost sending players out of the game because sometimes this is what it does,” he said.

“For me it’s reducing the talent pool and we should be encouraging kids with time to flourish and develop, there are some late bloomers.

“Jamie Peacock for example. If you’d have seen Jamie Peacock play at 19 or 20 there’s no way on earth you’d have tipped him to have the career he’s had.

“We should keep the talent pool and give players the opportunity to flourish and I don’t think the current system does that.”

See this week’s Wakefield Express for more Wakefield Trinity Wildcats news.