While hundreds of NRL players are enjoying the last few weeks of their holidays before having to return for the brutal slog of pre-season, Danny Levi is training in Tweeds Heads in the hope of picking up a new contract.
Levi, who has played 103 NRL games along with winning four caps for the Kiwis, says he’s not given up hope of sealing a return to the NRL after being released by the Sea Eagles.
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He was signed by Manly on a one-year deal from Newcastle to replace Api Koroisau and work in tandem with Manase Fainu.
However, Manly’s plans were thrown into turmoil when Fainu was sidelined by the NRL’s no fault stand-down policy for his alleged involvement in a stabbing at a church dance.
Des Hasler’s woes were compounded by long-term injuries to the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker and Moses Suli which saw Manly limp to a 13th placed finish.
“I still believe I’ve got a lot to offer,” Levi told foxsports.com.au. “I believe I’m an NRL quality hooker. I just want to play, I don’t care where.
“I love playing footy and want to keep supporting my family doing that. I’ve got a lot of family up in Queensland so ideally you’d like to be around them, but I’d be happy to play anywhere.
“I’ve had a few old teammates say come here, but that’s up to the coaches and the recruitment officers. Hopefully some good news comes along soon.”
Despite being released by the Sea Eagles after the end of his one-year deal, Levi said he holds no regrets about his time there.
“I kind of knew what I was going in there for,” Levi said.
“I loved my time there, Des is an unreal coach and he helped me out heaps and he said he was happy with what I was doing there.
“It hurt us a lot, the injuries and guys coming in. It was kind of complicated and it wasn’t the best of years, but I really enjoyed my time there and they were really supportive of me.
“The break has been good for me, it still sits in the back of your mind though that you’re unemployed. I think I’ll enjoy a couple of weeks rest before I really start stressing.”
MARSTERS STICKS WITH COWBOYS
Esan Marsters is set to stay at the Cowboys after a turbulent 12 months in Townsville in which he was told he was free to leave.
Marsters looked to be the perfect fit for the Cowboys when they did a three-year deal with the Tigers to sign the Kiwi Test centre at the end of 2019.
While he appeared to be the attacking strike North Queensland needed, Marsters had a year to forget.
He was dropped midway through the year by interim coach Josh Hannay and was told by the Cowboys he was free to look around.
However, incoming coach Todd Payten has told the centre he is part of his plans, foxsports.com.au understands.
The Cowboys have just one spot left to fill in their 30-man roster.
RAIDERS EYE KIWI TEEN STAR
Canberra have held talks with one of the finest rugby union talents in New Zealand by the name of Jack Sandford.
A student at the famed Christchurch Boys High School that produced Dan Carter and former All Blacks coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, Sandford has thrived in 1st XV rugby union.
Watching highlights of Sandford and you can see a resemblance to Ryan Papenhuyzen in the way he breaks games open with his rapid speed.
A fullback in union, Sandford has also played league for the Aranui Eagles and been involved with Super Rugby’s Crusaders.
KNIGHTS LOCK UP TWO
Newcastle have extended back-rower Brodie Jones for another year after he made his debut in 2020.
The 22-year-old Maitland product played seven times for the Knights last season after featuring in his first NRL game in the Round 3 draw with Penrith.
The Knights have also agreed terms with Junior Kiwis prop Daniel Ticehurst.
The New Zealand-born front-rower is highly thought of by the Knights and has inked a development deal, with a top 30 spot the year after.