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Yesterday was an intriguing end to the 2012 NRL season, with a grand final spectacle befitting of the season finale. (For a review of the game, read this from Phil Gould). The two teams contesting the final, the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, were ranked 2 and 1 in the minor premiership (or the regular season as it is referred to in North American circles) respectively. Both clubs have a rather colourful recent history, as both have been found to have committed major breaches of the NRL's salary cap within the last ten years, although there is no question here of salary cap impropriety this season. The past just added to the sub-plot of the game itself. I came across this article by regular Sydney Morning Herald columnist Roy Masters yesterday which gives an insight into how success can be obtained in the NRL. In short, the Bulldogs signed their present coach Des Hasler from Manly-Warringah, who had just won the 2011 premiership via Hasler's coaching. Hasler is regarded as cutting-edge in his coaching, and he transformed the Bulldogs from 10th place (out of 16 teams) in 2011 to minor premiers and grand final runners-up in 2012. The 'Dogs train at their spiritual home of Belmore Sports Ground. Part of the reason for their transformation:
The $9 million Belmore facility was built with funding from three sources - the Rudd Infrastructure program, a NSW government grant and a $1 for $1 spend with the local council. The Bulldogs contributed $500,000.
That's not a bad price to pay for success. 5.6%. Says it all really. The article also highlights the role of high performance centres (or otherwise) in other clubs, including Melbourne, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
This quote in the article, from Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg is also rather insightful:
''When you are limited by the amount you can spend on players via a salary cap, you've got to look at other means of acquiring an edge,'' he said. ''In the case of Des, the Centre of Excellence wasn't opened when he visited. It took 12 months to build and we moved in in November. But he could see we were committed to resourcing long-term success. It also allows me to run my business model off the back of the football department. Fans want to know their club is a better than even shot of winning, plus they want to know we have done everything possible to make this happen.'
Including getting your fair share of government assistance.