Hayne hasn’t even played a down in anger in the NFL yet Australia is already crying out for more #38 San Francisco 49ers replica shirts. His numbered-shirt is among the fastest selling NFL shirts in the US at present as well.
The idea of having personalised playing numbers is nothing new – Super League used the concept in 1997 but the fad didn’t catch on. Players tended to stick to the numbers of the positions they generally played. UK Super League currently operates a personal number system rather than using the traditional numbers that determine a player’s position.
When you look at the number of changes NRL sides make after the teams are named on Tuesday afternoons and compare that to the side that runs out onto the field – the numbers don’t match up all that often to the position they are actually playing anyway. Has the time come to try and capitalise on individual star’s pulling power and introduce individual numbers for each player in the competition much like the NFL or NBA does?
Which players’ shirts would sell the most? Johanthan Thurston? Greg Inglis? Cam Smith? Shaun Johnson?
Surely having personal playing numbers would see a significant increase in jersey sales and would add to the marketability of the game’s leading players. You could even go as far as allowing clubs to retire the numbers of their greatest players.
As always, let me know your thoughts via the Twitter handle @playtheballnz