As a kid growing up in Christchurch, Cameron McIntyre’s aspirations were pinned firmly on playing one, just one, senior level game of rugby for his beloved Marist. Fast forward 30 years and he’s well and truly achieved that and more. Along with wining Mitre 10 Cup titles, captaining Canterbury in a Ranfurly shield defence, he has also won a Super Rugby title with the Crusaders in 2006 and Played for New Zealand at all Age group levels Including the Junior All Blacks and NZ A. Having previously had a season with the Highlanders, he left the Crusaders at just 24 years old and headed for pastures new in France and later Japan. And it’s those experiences in other parts of the world that have given him a greater appreciation for how the game works off the field, and the opportunities that can be afforded to many players and administrators. Even those that don’t make international level.
Now bringing those first-hand experiences to his role as a player agent based in Christchurch with Esportif, he outlines some of the opportunities and pitfalls many young players and their parents may experience should they be looking at a career in sport.
Cam’s top 6 tips are:
‘We are seeing kids signed as young as 13 years old now, but the best thing any parent can do is their research. There are several agencies in this space now – I think research is key, do your background checks on everyone who’s talking to you and your kids, are they an established company? How much experience do they have in the business? What’s the actual agents’ role and what can they help you with? In Rugby, are the Agents accredited by the NZRPA and if not-why not?
Relationships is a huge one, if you’re looking to use an agent as a young person as your career progresses your mum and dad are going to have less and less involvement and your agent is going to have more and more, so the relationship side is key. As a player you need to have confidence in your agent, have trust in them, and if there’s certain things you need to take to them you’ve got to have confidence that they are a person you can talk to.
One of the things to remember is, as agents we can’t help with players being selected in a team or with their performance on the park. One of the things we see is, ‘Awesome, I’ve got an agent, I’m on my way to professional footy.’ But I can’t stress enough that the players must keep working hard and keep performing to their best, week in week out. We are there to take care of all the stuff in between so the players have clear heads come game day, but it’s always ultimately up to the player to keep performing and keep doing what they need to do on the track.
Coaches and selectors want to know that you’ll be a good fit for their team.
Many of them will jump on social media and have a look at some of these younger guys coming through and try and get a bit of background info on what they might be like off the field and how they will fit into their environment. So even from a young age social media is a very powerful tool, it has got to be used correctly. There can be some pretty harmless things where the boys are out having a beer amongst themselves and you’re pictured holding a drink, next thing something happens and people get wind that you were somehow involved, you might have only had one beer, but if there’s a photo of you holding a stubbie and it can explode pretty quickly. It can be hard to talk yourself out of one of those scenarios if there’s a picture to suggest otherwise, and people can mould a story around it.
It’s been in the news a few times in the last few years with a person signing for a sport or a club that might not suit them in a few years’ time. When you sign something at 14-15 you’ve got no idea what’s going to happen over the next 3 years in terms of your development or whether another code becomes an option. It’s great there’s interest and great there are contracts out there for you, but we strive to ensure we keep them as flexible as possible so we can give you, as the player, as many options as you’re going to have in the future.
I think another area where parents and younger players need to be cautious is when agents talk about commercial gigs and rewards for social medial posts. If you’re being fed information around sponsorships and possible commercial deals and bumping up your social media by 1000 followers, it’s not reality, it’s a bit of a sales tool. It’s not reality and what that’s creating among the younger generation, especially at that 1st 15 level, is we have a huge number of players expecting to be professional rugby players where in reality there’s only a handful of 1st 15 players that kick on into professional footy.