AGENTS ADVOCATE CHANGE: Kiwi Tyran Smith (pictured) and unlikely ally John Hopoate have set up a business to help rising Maori and Polynesian players. Telling tales of being pushed overpriced property and questionable loans, it's clear that Tyran Smith doesn't like rugby league player agents. So he has become one. In the business world, the former New Zealand test forward would be called an "internal change agent". His schtick? "I wish that someone like myself had sat me down at 20 years old," he says. In his 14-year professional career, Smith played with seven different NRL clubs, winning eight test caps along the way, and says: "I've seen so many things, it's amazing the stuff that happened when I was younger. I got pushed into properties where someone was gearing the prices then selling to me, getting loans with their own lenders and taking kickbacks. I did OK, but how much better could I have done?" And so, paired with the most unlikely of business partners in the infamous John Hopoate, this year the former Warriors, Souths, North Queensland, Hunter Mariners, Balmain, Wests Tigers and Canberra second rower launched Sportsplayer Management. They are unashamedly targetting the young Maori and Polynesian players whose natural shyness, Smith believes, is exploited by clubs. Already, he says, 30 players, mostly NRL under-20s, have enlisted, including two junior Warriors, Kurt Kara and Ray Wallace. Sportsplayer's posterboy is Hopoate's 15-year-old son, Albert, who has just negotiated an unprecedented $300,000 three-year deal with Manly. Smith is, you might say, bullish. "I know what they are worth, I know them as players, the clubs can't pull the wool over my eyes," he declares. The contract negotiation bit, he says, is easy; it's the "guidance" that takes work. This is where he reckons he's different to your traditional, uncaring agent. He's offering his young men media training, personalised fitness programmes from Penrith's trainer Carl Jennings, mentoring from former team-mates such as Kevin Iro, mortgage broking, investment, superannuation and taxation advice. Smith was forced into sudden retirement in 2005, with a protruding disc and a cracked neck vertebrae which was pushing into his spinal cord. "And you know what? I was still trying to play on. When I look back, I thought I had nothing else. `What am I going to do to get this money? I am qualified for nothing'." He invested in a finance company, Tax Effective Financial Wellbeing, and says he spent the next two years formulating a "system" for holistic advice on every aspect of a young player's careers. "No one is gonna be able to compete in this area," he spruiks. How have other agents reacted? "You know what, they know that this is what the game has been crying out for for a long time, mate, someone who is honest and does things right." Sounds great; until you consider the involvement of rugby league's own amateur proctologist, Hopoate. Smith explains: "Everyone knows Hops has done some silly things. But he is better. "I told him, you can't doubt yourself. He has come from Minto [south-west Sydney], where the baddest kids and baddest people are and a lot of poverty, and reached the pinnacle 10 years ago when there were next to no Islanders in the NRL and played for NSW and Australia. "He has done some things he is not too proud of, but people don't document how Hoppa hasn't drunk, smoked cigarettes or taken drugs since 2000: he's a church boy now. They don't talk about how he does his church youth work, mentoring young kids not to make the same mistakes. I've got a lot of respect for him. He is an ethical family man." Hopoate's involvement appeals to that growing swathe of Sydney-raised Pacific Island boys swamping the NRL. Smith caters to the tide of teenage New Zealanders. "I grew up with a lot of young Maori and Polynesian boys who were taken advantage of, and it is still happening now,' says Smith. "It needs a change. We can relate to the Maori and Island boys, we can understand; we were them once upon a time. These are kids who are shy, don't have much idea, but a lot of ability, they just need to be directed on the right path." Echoing the concerns of Sonny Bill Williams, who wants to reposition himself as a representative of the often-quiet Polynesian player, Smith says he will be a "voice". "[I will be] someone to stand up and have us no longer categorised, told to sit up, shut up, sit in the corner and take what you get and be grateful for it. Of course, we are grateful, but if you are talented and work hard, don't you deserve everything you can get?" Smith dreams of rapid expansion, firmly thumbing his nose to the old generation of agents. But, he says carefully, Sports-player won't get so big that there's no personal touch, and "some kid is deprived of an opportunity to change his life because you are too busy to return calls".