Inside Falcons recruitment process to unearth stars
Sunshine Coast Falcons CEO Chris Flannery has given insight to the intricacies and inner workings of the club's detailed recruitment process which has unearthed its fair share of hidden gems in recent years.
While it is no secret that the club benefits from the Melbourne Storm connection, which has blooded the likes of Harry Grant, Justin Olam and Ryan Papenhuyzen, the Falcons have been adept at discovering their own talents.
This was on full display during the Storm's win over the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night with stars Ryley Jacks, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Nicho Hynes and Darryn Schonig, all identified and signed to the Falcons first.
Those four had appeared no less than 100 times for the Falcons.
Throw in Tui Kamikamica, Chris Lewis and up and comer Trent Loiero and there's proof the pathway is one of the best in the NRL.
Flannery said it was not an overnight process, more like weeks or months of careful planning.
Aided by the Storm's database and recruitment gurus Paul Bunn and Dane Campbell, the Falcons carefully compile a detailed wanted list.
That's the first step.
"It's usually around the June, July mark when we start to compile a hit list of the guys we would to speak to," Flannery said.
That hit list is determined on what positions the club needs, who would be available, for how much and is based around which players would be drip fed down from Melbourne.
By season's end, Flannery said the hit list became names on a whiteboard and the Falcons met with the Storm's recruitment team to delve deeper.
"They have stats for every single semi professional player and international players," he said.
"They have this program where you punch in a name and it has all their vital stats.
"That tells us pretty quickly if we're on the money."
It was Falcons chairman Ashley Robinson who first laid eyes on the electric Hynes in a televised game for the Mackay Cutters, who at the time were wooden spoon contenders.
"Ashley rang me raving about him and we just kept an eye on him, then later in the year his name was on the whiteboard," Flannery said.
"Schonig was on the whiteboard too.
"We had played the Pride a few times and knew he was a handful.
"But because he was contracted to the Pride it took a real tug of war to get him.
"But we knew we were getting a good player, so we fought hard to get him."
While the Falcons cannot compete with the dollars of other rival Intrust Super Cups, the opportunity to train with the Storm has been a lucrative draw card.
"Getting them in front of (Craig) Bellamy and the coaches down there is huge," he said.
"It really is a big draw card.
"We are lucky to have them.
"They're on of the best teams in the NRL, so professional and really invest in feeder teams like us.
"It's a great relationship."