Kade Simpson comeback dream over as ex-Carlton Blues star opts out of mid-season draft, while the Hawthorn Hawks could swoop on Sam Mitchell protege Jai Newcombe


Those close to Stengle believe he would be much better off moving out of Adelaide.

Collingwood also have interest in ruckman Alexander Mirkov, currently on Carlton’s VFL list.

Essendon are interested in half-back flanker Angus Baker, who is in their VFL program, while the Tigers have been looking closely at half-back Sam Durham who is in their VFL side.

Blues stalwart Kade Simpson won’t be picked up in the mid-season draft.

Blues stalwart Kade Simpson won’t be picked up in the mid-season draft.Credit:Getty Images

Meanwhile Kade Simpson’s AFL career will not be revived with the former Carlton star opting not to nominate for next Wednesday night’s mid-season rookie draft.

Simpson, 37, had last month flagged an interest in putting his hand up to be taken in the mid-year pool after the Blues chose not to extend his 342-game career at the end of last season.

But Simpson’s name was not on a list of around 600 players distributed by the AFL on Wednesday. The deadline to nominate was 5pm on Tuesday.

Fellow former AFL players Nathan Freeman, Riley Knight and Wylie Buzza have all nominated in the hope of another chance at the top level.

Buzza, the former Geelong and Port Adelaide-listed tall, is now playing with Werribee in the VFL and has spoken to Gold Coast, who rival clubs expect to take the versatile big man following injuries to a string of Suns talls including Jarrod Witts, Matt Conroy, Sam Day and Rory Thompson.

However there remained some uncertainty as to whether the Suns – whose finals hopes are slim – would opt for a ready-made ruckman or choose a player who would be of more benefit in the longer-term.

Fit again after injury-marred years at Collingwood and St Kilda, Freeman has thrown his hat in the ring after a brilliant start to the season for Frankston, where he is averaging 41 disposals per game in 2021.

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The prevailing view of AFL club recruiters, agents and state league club sources is that the draft will be dominated – at least at the pointy end – by teenage Victorian talls who were bypassed last year after their season was cancelled but have thrived in the first half of 2021.

Sandringham Dragons forward/ruckman Jacob Edwards is all but certain to be taken by North Melbourne at pick
No. 1. The Kangaroos are effectively locked into bottom spot at the end of the round given their woeful percentage.

Around 15 to 25 picks are expected to be used next Wednesday night, with the event to be held virtually. The COVID-19 situation in Victoria threatens to deny local hopefuls one final chance to impress on-field this weekend.

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Josh Dunkley Essendon, Tom Liberatore Western Bulldogs contract, Sam Weideman


There’s good news at the Dogs, with two gun midfielders set to recommit to the club.

Plus the Dees are working hard to keep a key forward.

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DOGS STAR ‘CERTAIN’ TO STAY DESPITE MESSY 2021 TRADE PERIOD

Josh Dunkley is “certain” to stay with the Western Bulldogs for 2022 and beyond, according to Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph, just months after his sensational attempt to move to Essendon fell through.

After requesting a trade to the Bombers during last year’s AFL exchange period, Dunkley was forced to stay at the Bulldogs after negotiations between Essendon and the Bulldogs broke down on the final day.

However Dunkley, who’s contracted to the Dogs until at least the end of 2022, returned to his best form during an awesome start to his 2021 campaign, averaging 30 disposals and 129 ranking points per game. He then suffered a nasty shoulder injury in Round 6 against the Giants that’ll sidelined him until late in the home and away season.

Speaking on Fox Footy on Friday night, Ralph reported Dunkley saw his future at the Bulldogs.

“I can tell you tonight that Josh Dunkley is certain to stay at the Western Bulldogs for 2022 and beyond,” Ralph told Fox Footy.

“It’s fantastic news for the club and I think it’s proof as well – and we’ve seen it on the field – just those little improvements for the things that were at the heart of his discontent. Whether it was a lack of professionalism, whether it was players not playing well both on and off the field – they have absolutely done that.

“Just an example from Josh Bruce: He’s dropped 5kg, he’s got himself super fit, he’s sworn off the grog for 100 days – that’s been echoed across the football club.

“He (Dunkley) is a little bit like Zach Merrett at Essendon in that he wants the players to be as professional as he’s been able to be – and he will be there.”

NEW DEAL LOOMS FOR LIBBA

A new deal for Bulldogs midfielder Tom Liberatore could be announced as soon as next week.

Liberatore has returned to his career-best form in 2021, ranking first in the league for clearances and among the top four for contested possessions.

The 29-year-old is out of contract at season’s end, but Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph said he expected the Dogs to announce a new deal “imminently”

Tom Liberatore is the AFL’s No. 1 clearance player. Picture: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

“Tom Liberatore could be signed up on a two-year deal by early next week,” Ralph reported on Fox Footy.

“The club offered a one-year deal at one stage for the 29-year-old – I think that was deemed as insulting. The counter-offer has been made and that is in the camp of the Western Bulldogs right now and Sam Power their list manager.

“It’s two years, maybe even a trigger for a third. They’re not that far apart on money so both parties feel that’s very much imminent.”

DEES KEEN TO KEEP ‘WEID’

Melbourne football boss Alan Richardson says his club is determined to keep key forward Sam Weideman.

The 23-year-old has endured an injury-interrupted stint at the Demons ever since being taken with Pick 9 in the 2015 draft.

But Weideman has played the last three consecutive games for Melbourne, including a two-goal haul against the Bulldogs on Friday night.

The Eastern Ranges product is out of contract at season’s end, but Richardson said the club wold continue to remain on constant dialogue with his management.

Sam Weideman of the Demons. Picture: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

“We’re always talking with managers about players that we want that aren’t in contract and ‘Weids’ is no exception,” Richardson told SEN Breakfast.

“We see him being a really important part of our future going forward. We think he’s building well, we thought a big part of last year he was really positive, both he and ‘Jacko’ (Luke Jackson) working together.

“The forward line is a little bit different and we still think it’s our best option to have the three talls.

“We’ll keep working with that model and we see ‘Weids’ as a big part of that.”

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Hawthorn Hawk Kyle Hartigan faces three weeks on the sidelines for his hit on Carlton Blues star Sam Walsh after fan footage surfaces


Holman tackled Duncan from behind late in the second quarter of the Suns’ loss to the Cats on Saturday, with Duncan’s head hitting the ground as the tackle ended.

In the spotlight: Nick Holman’s tackle on Mitch Duncan.Credit:Getty Images

The Cats veteran was concussed. The incident will now go before the tribunal and will serve as a test of the AFL’s crackdown on tackles that damage the head. On the surface, Holman looks to have executed a very good tackle, with Duncan’s injury unlucky, but the AFL is keen on protecting the head no matter what.

Holman’s tackle on Duncan was deemed careless conduct, high impact and high contact. Plowman’s incident was ruled as careless conduct, high impact and high contact. The MRO graded Pickett’s strike as careless, medium impact and high contact.

Mitch Duncan suffered a concussion after a heavy tackle in round 10.

Mitch Duncan suffered a concussion after a heavy tackle in round 10. Credit:Getty Images

Hartigan faces three-match suspension as fan footage surfaces

The MRO handed down a series of suspensions out of Saturday’s games, including a three-match suspension to Hawthorn’s Kyle Hartigan for striking Carlton’s Sam Walsh.

Footage taken from a fan at the Punt Road end of the MCG on Saturday was shared on social media and shows Hartigan’s arm collecting Walsh high as the Blues midfielder tried to block the Hawk for his teammate Harry McKay.

Walsh fell to the ground and McKay checked on the young star, who then stood up on his own and continued to run around.

The MRO graded the incident as intentional conduct, high impact and high contact.

Hartigan was given a $2000 fine earlier in the year for a strike on Geelong full-forward Tom Hawkins.

Other incidents from Saturday that came under scrutiny include Adelaide’s Darcy Fogarty’s hit on Melbourne’s Jake Lever, and a match day report on Taylor Walker for a dumping tackle.

Both Fogarty and Walker were fined and are free to play next week. Hunter Clark (tripping) and Nat Fyfe (rough conduct) also copped fines for incidents with Adam Treloar and Josh Kennedy.

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Sam Allardyce to leave relegated West Brom at end of season after rejecting ‘generous offer’ to stay


am Allardyce will leave his role as West Brom manager this summer after rejecting the offer of a new contract with the Championship-bound Baggies.

Vastly experienced former England boss Allardyce – who has a long-established reputation as a relegation firefighter – was appointed to replace the sacked Slaven Bilic in December on an 18-month contract that included a break clause at the end of the season.

The 66-year-old was unable to achieve his aim of keeping West Brom in the Premier League as the club’s immediate return to the second tier was confirmed with three games left to play following a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal earlier this month.

It had been uncertain as to whether Allardyce would be content to remain at the club in the Championship despite West Brom’s desire to keep him in charge and he revealed after Wednesday’s late 3-1 home defeat by Europe-chasing West Ham that he had turned down an offer to stay on for the long-term.

Sunday’s trip to face Leeds at Elland Road will therefore be Allardyce’s final match at the helm, with assistant manager Sammy Lee and first-team coach Robbie Stockdale also set to move on.

“West Bromwich Albion made me a generous offer to stay at The Hawthorns that shows the commitment of an ambitious club. After serious consideration I have decided not to accept that offer,” Allardyce said in an official club statement released shortly after the defeat by West Ham.

“If I were to stay and achieve promotion next season the expectation would be for me to continue for at least another season and, sadly, that is not a commitment I feel able to make at this stage of my career.

“I believe the club now needs stability and continuity and this would, in my opinion, best be provided by a young and ambitious manager who can get us back to where we should be as an established Premier League football club.”

“I must thank the players and staff, in particular [technical director] Luke Dowling and [chief executive] Ken (Xu Ke), for their unwavering commitment to a very difficult challenge during my time at the club. This challenge was made all the more difficult, of course, by the enforced absence of the club’s fantastic supporters, some of whom I am delighted were present for our final home game against West Ham United.

“The club have asked for my opinion on the qualities my successor will require and I have been more than happy to offer my thoughts. The search for my replacement starts after the final game of the season at Leeds United. In the meantime, we will be concentrating fully on the preparation for that game and will do everything we can to finish the season with as many points as possible.”

Dowling said Allardyce had restored pride at The Hawthorns over the last five months despite failing to prevent relegation and confirmed that West Brom had wanted him to remain in the post.

“Sam, Sammy and Robbie came in at a really difficult time for the football club and worked tirelessly in their efforts to keep the club in the Premier League,” he said.

“Unfortunately, collectively, we were unable to achieve our goal of surviving relegation. In the second half of the season we played with passion and desire, delivering some memorable results with organised, entertaining football.

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Sam Weideman to return for Melbourne Demons against Carlton Blues, says coach Simon Goodwin, but Nathan Jones was hurt at training.


However, it wasn’t a good day for Jones, the former skipper straining a hamstring at a closed training session. He was sent for scans, which revealed the strain as minor, and the Demons say he could return as early as next weekend.

Jones played his 300th match against Richmond in round six, and was the medical substitute a week later, but was dropped ahead of last week’s clash against Sydney.

Weideman’s return means the Demons continue to have several options, including McDonald and Ben Brown, to help skipper Max Gawn in the ruck. Gawn has spent more time drifting into defence in recent weeks, ensuring plenty of room for Bayley Fritsch (18 goals), Kysaiah Pickett (14), McDonald (13), Christian Petracca (9) and Brown (5) to work up forward.

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While the Demons chase a ninth straight win, the Blues are struggling with a 3-5 win-loss record and now must contend with an elite defence. Where the Blues continue to struggle to stop opposition run-ons, having conceded three goals in a row 15 times this season, the Demons’ selfless approach to team defence and working hard without the football has been a feature of their remarkable surge.

Goodwin said this mantra had been a work in progress over three years and the players were now “cohesive” and being rewarded for their efforts.

“You see the best teams over the years defend without the ball to a really high level,” he said.

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All Blacks star TJ Perenara, Joseph Suaalii, Sam Walker, Hurricanes, rugby union news


His decision to return to where it all began smacked of a play to get a few higher digits at the end of a new deal, but All Blacks star TJ Perenara says his desire to play in the NRL was genuine.

In addition, the feisty halfback says it “would have been really cool” to play alongside emerging stars Sam Walker and Joseph Suaalii, who knocked back moves from Rugby Australia to join the NRL powerhouse.

On Monday, the 2015 World Cup-winning All Blacks who has 69 caps to his name, put weeks of speculation he was considering a code switch by putting pen to paper once again with New Zealand Rugby to return to the Hurricanes on a two-and-a-half year deal.

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Dirty Eels do damage to Roosters | 01:06

The 29-year-old, who left at the end of last season and signed a short-term deal in Japan, was considering an offer to join the Roosters, who had been ravaged by injuries, including the forced retirement of hooker Jake Friend and season-ending knee-injury to playmaker Jake Friend.

Adding to the likelihood of the move was the number of staff with rugby experience, as well as the high number of players who played schoolboy rugby.

As well as needing some experience and class around the hooker position, the Roosters have former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika on their books as well as French great Freddie Michalak.

TJ Perenara says Sam Walker is going to be a special player. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Only last year too, dual-international Sonny Bill Williams answered an SOS call from Trent Robinson to return to the club he won a title with before returning to the All Blacks in the lead up to the 2015 World Cup.

Last year, Perenara’s teammate Ardie Savea also mentioned on a podcast he harboured ambitions of joining either the Storm or Roosters.

Speaking on What a Lad podcast, the 2016 Super Rugby winner opened up on how close he came to making the switch, where he revealed he spoke with Robinson on a number of occasions and was an inch away from signing.

“I had a lot of conversations with Trent and some of their training staff,” he said.

“It got to the point where I was getting training drills and conditioning plans to prepare myself to play league, and implementing that into my extras.

“It was really, really close and a really tough decision. Trent saw me as a hooker, I saw myself as a hooker who could cover in the halves if I needed to.

“There was going to be an introduction phase at the start. They would have got me with the conditioning team, tested me early on straight out of isolation.

“My biggest concern with going in terms of the time restraint was that connection with the team, being able to build relationships with the team.

“If you are hooker and you are part of the spine, being able to drive the team around without knowing anyone really.

“I don’t know the vibe of the team, I don’t know the lads, I don’t know the dynamic of the team. There would be less instinct with the relationship there.”

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Joseph Suaalii was someone TJ Perenara hoped he could help develop his career. Photo by Paul Seiser/SPA ImagesSource: Supplied

Asked which Rooster player(s) he would have liked to have played alongside most, Perenara singled out their two young backs.

“There’s a couple. Obviously Teddy (James Tedesco) is pretty amazing. He is a crazy good player, so to be able to be around someone at that level would have been cool,” Perenara said.

“Sammy Walker, bro, he is the future. On the opposite scale almost, someone just starting but in terms of talent, he is amazing what he is doing on the field.

“To be able to be around someone through that growth part of their career, that would have been really cool. There is another young kid — I don’t want to pronounce his name wrong — Suaalii.

“I think he would have been really good too. Jo Manu seems like a lad. He goes hard. (Jared) Waerea-Hargreaves would have been cool as well.”

Perenara didn’t rule out a code switch down the track, but admitted the timing was opportune for a move now.

“I would have loved it. I still get excited talking about it now,” he said.

“I am content with the decision … but there will always be that part that thinks, man, that would have been a really cool experience.”

The versatile half said he saw himself as a hooker who could also feature in the halves if necessary.

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Harry McKay Carlton contract, Elliot Yeo, West Coast, trade, Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh


Injured West Coast star Elliot Yeo says he was “annoyed and frustrated” by a report linking him to a trade involving Carlton and Patrick Cripps.

On Monday night, Seven’s Tom Browne tweeted the Eagles were “circling” Cripps but have problems with salary cap space, and would “look at trading Yeo”. However Seven Perth’s Ryan Daniels then tweeted a denial of both reports.

Yeo, who hasn’t played since Round 11 last year with persistent groin problems and is out indefinitely, said he was surprised when he was told of the potential mega-deal.

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“I know nothing. I got a message from my cousin in Melbourne when it was reported and he said, look, I hear you’re going to Carlton! I said first I’ve heard about it,” he told 96FM’s The Bunch with Clairsy and Lisa.

“I guess I’ve got to thank Rhino (Ryan Daniels) as well for jumping on the front foot and shutting it down pretty quickly. The funny thing is they’re from the same network.

“In the end, it’s just, what do you do about it other than put your hands up and go, what a silly sort of statement to make?”

Gaz slams Blues for “unforgivable” error | 03:05

Asked about his reaction, Yeo said: “I was annoyed and frustrated, yeah. A bit more disrespectful as well.

“We’re both contracted. Well, I’m contracted, he is as well and going through the stages at Carlton. Just a silly statement.”

Eagles footy boss Craig Vozzo said on Tuesday Yeo was a required player.

“I reckon he’s (Cripps) an outstanding footballer, it was more the point around Elliot Yeo. He’s a critical member of our playing group,” Vozzo told reporters.

“We contracted him long-term some time ago, he’s a two-time best and fairest, he’s an extremely good person and a critical member of our playing group.”

Asked if they’d have interest if Cripps wanted to come back to WA, Vozzo said: “Look, we’re interested in all good players, but I’m not going to comment on our list management.”

Meanwhile AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson believes Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay should be the Carlton list management team’s “No. 1 priority” for 2021.

But Robinson believes the trade and contract debate around Cripps shouldn’t solely revolve around “dollars and performance”.

Are Carlton mismanaging Patrick Cripps? | 01:55

Carlton faces a delicate balancing act this year with both Cripps and McKay, who would command significant attention from rival clubs, out of contract at season’s end.

Adding to the dilemma is the two players’ stark contrast in form across the first two months of the season, with McKay leading the Coleman Medal race with 30 goals from eight games and Cripps polling just six AFL Coaches’ Association MVP votes so far. Cripps finished second in that award in 2018 and equal-fifth in 2019.

And the Blues will also be wary of in-form midfielder Sam Walsh’s contract situation, with the star on-baller among the league’s top disposal-winners and unsigned beyond 2022.

Blues chief executive Cain Liddle last month indicated on SEN his club wasn’t concerned about McKay’s future, saying it’d been in touch with McKay’s management “for a while now”.

But speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Robinson reported rival clubs were already circling 23-year-old McKay, adding the goalkicker should be the Blues’ most important signature.

“The No. 1 priority in my opinion is Harry McKay, absolutely,” Robinson told Fox Footy.

“They‘re coming for him. A few clubs inquired last year, I’ve spoken to one of those clubs and they’re going to go again, they’re already going again.

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“They believe he‘s going to stay, but they’re in there talking to the manager just trying to find out is there any possibility here.

“Sam Walsh is contracted so that makes Patrick Cripps priority No. 2.”

While the Blues remain confident Cripps will re-sign with the club, there hasn’t been any indication from the midfielder’s camp yet that a contract announcement is imminent.

The 26-year-old is averaging just 5.6 clearances – his lowest number since his debut season in 2014 – and 24.4 disposals – his lowest since his second season – in a season where the 3-5 Blues have struggled to get going.

But Robinson said Cripps’ value went beyond the stats sheet and his on-field performances.

Betts: Nothing good happens after 12am | 02:52

“Suddenly the Patrick Cripps debate has become all about dollars and his performance as a player. Patrick Cripps is more than that – he‘s the captain of the Carlton Football Club,” he said.

“If you‘ve ever had an opportunity to speak to Cripps about what the Carlton Football Club means to him and what it’s done for his own life, in his personal development, I would be staggered if Patrick Cripps is not at the Blues next year.”

Carlton’s contract situation comes less than 12 months after it signed free agent Zac Williams on a six-year deal worth around $800,000 across six years – with incentives that can bring it up to $900,000 a season – and gave up Pick 8 to trade in Adam Saad from the Bombers.

AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley suggested the Blues better be well placed to meet the demands of Cripps and McKay.

“I would hope that they have a lot of money for both of these players and that was always their planning,” Whateley said.

Patrick Cripps and Harry McKay of the Blues. Picture: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

“Their problem is because they paid so much to the players that they‘ve brought in, they have actually set a standard where Cripps, it doesn’t matter whether you think Cripps is out of form or finished or whatever he has to be paid above Zac Williams. That’s not even a debate.

“He‘s 26 years old and he’s only played 126 games – this the notion that somehow his best football is behind him, I’m not having that for one second.”



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NRL teams, Round 10, 2021: Sam Walker, Joseph Suaalii, Roosters, Andrew Fifita, Sharks, Injuries, Adam Reynolds, Broncos, Bulldogs, halves, Kyle Flanagan, players named, squads


The Roosters could be without Sam Walker due to injury, with Joseph Suaalii a chance to debut in a reshuffled backline.

Meanwhile Sharks veteran Andrew Fifita is set for a recall for his side’s clash with the Rabbitohs.

Here’s the Team Tips for Round 10.

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Round 10

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Sam Burgess looking to launching coaching career with country team


“He won’t go [via] the NRL just yet, he will start his apprenticeship somewhere else. It won’t even be in the NRL junior [leagues]. It will be more rural. He’s interested in that sort of thing.

Sam and the supercoach, Wayne Bennett, discuss tactics last year.Credit:Getty

“We’ll see what happens, but that’s the next step for him.

“He’s put everything behind him and he’s in a really good spot.

“He was great for us last year, he came in and really helped us. He was just out of the game, so everything he did with us was very relatable.″

NSW Rugby League officials confirmed on Monday there would be nothing stopping Burgess from coaching a club in this state, especially if Burgess was not facing any criminal charges. The only thing Burgess requires is a coaching certificate from the NRL and a Working with Children Check.

It emerged just last month that a couple of NRL clubs had expressed interest about Burgess returning in a playing capacity. He was medically retired by Souths at the end of 2019.

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Meanwhile, Tom said his twin, former Souths premiership winner George Burgess, was out of hospital after undergoing hip surgery and planned to return to Australia to live in July. After mutually agreeing to cut short his deal with Wigan, George will see how he recovers from his latest surgery before weighing up whether to chase a train-and-trial deal at a club for next season.

“George hasn’t ruled out playing again – he’s definitely moving back here,” Tom said.

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Former South Sydney Rabbitohs star Sam Burgess says rehab has changed his life


There was no deal

In one of his final acts as a free man, Jarryd Hayne blamed the media for losing what he claimed was a $500,000 deal with the Dragons for the 2019 NRL season. On so many levels, this said it all.

I checked with people at the Dragons who had intimate knowledge of the Hayne negotiations. There was no contract about to be signed, as Hayne claimed. There had been internal discussions about signing him, but it had not reached the stage of a contract being drawn up. It didn’t even get close to that.

Daniel Son, Jarryd Hayne and Corey Norman. Credit:Instagram

Hayne was an option for the Dragons, but if he thought a contract was waiting, he was very wrong. Instead the club signed Corey Norman, who was one of the last players to see Hayne before he was sentenced at Newcastle District Court on Thursday to five years and nine months in prison. Hayne was found guilty in March of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The former league star has lodged an appeal.

A picture of Norman with Hayne was posted on Instagram (pictured above). It is hard to understand why Norman would pose with Hayne days before he was jailed. Supporting a friend is one thing, but why post it?

Norman’s club has been torn apart by Jack de Belin’s court case. It played a big part in the demise of former coach Paul McGregor. It also led to others resigning from their positions. The Dragons have reprimanded Norman for posting the picture. Posing with Hayne was a dumb thing to do for a bloke who is off contract and looking for a new deal.

Talk of the town

There was an interesting catch-up after the Storm-Sharks match last Friday night in Melbourne. Cronulla chief executive Dino Mezzatesta and Storm coach Craig Bellamy were seen in deep conversation. The Sharks, of course, are very interested in securing the services of Bellamy in an overseeing football manager role.

With anger still swirling in the Shire about the axing of former coach John Morris, the club needs a big signing. South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds is likely to make up his mind early this week about whether he will take up an offer from Cronulla or Brisbane. The Broncos’ three-year offer still has appeal.

Sharks star Toby Rudolf, also off contract, has met with incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon but, like any quality player, wants to know who the halfback will be.

Credit:Facebook

Tigers don’t buy it

The bosses of Wests Ashfield love the passion of Tigers great Benny Elias. They respect everything he did for Balmain. It is the only reason they met with him on Tuesday to discuss a proposal to buy Wests Tigers. They have no intention of selling to Elias or anyone else.

When it comes to the Tigers, internal drama is never far away. Recently removed board member Mick Liubinskas has maintained a dignified silence on what happened. However, this Facebook post gives a fair insight into what he is thinking.

“This is what you get when politics in football clubs kicks in,” he wrote alongside the picture above.

Josh spice

The situation Josh Hodgson finds himself in at the Raiders is interesting. While he has not been able to recapture the form he showed when the Raiders made the grand final in 2019, the issues go a lot deeper. There have been reports of some harsh talks with coach Ricky Stuart.

When Hodgson was injured last year and watching from the sidelines, there was a lot of praise for replacements Tom Starling and Siliva Havili. The theme was how well the Raiders attack was functioning and how well halves George Williams and Jack Wighton were playing. I have been told that Hodgson was miffed that the playmakers were not publicly vocal about missing playing with him. When Stuart talked to Hodgson, he discussed getting the ball to the halves more quickly.

Roosters hierarchy go extra mile for Suaalii

Joseph Suaalii has a two-year deal at the Roosters with options in his favour for another two seasons. But during the past week there were two acts – one public and one private – that show how invested the club is in its teen superstar.

On Thursday, in pouring rain, Roosters heavyweights – chairman Nick Politis and board members Mark Fennessy, Peter Newton and Andrew Crawford – travelled to Penrith to see what the Suaalii family does for the charity group ReachOut NSW. They saw people arrive from all parts of Sydney and as far away as Wollongong to be fed by the charity, with the Suaalii family leading the way.

The Roosters bosses were blown away. They were not aware of this side of their star recruit.
For a family that has been through a lot in recent times, with their son in the public eye day after day, it would have meant something to the Suaalii family that Politis used the morning to learn about their charity – and their family.

Politis was genuinely touched and emotional when he recounted the experience to his confidantes.
Then there were the scenes in the dressing room last Saturday night after the win over the Knights that was marred by the loss of Brett Morris and Lindsay Collins to season-ending – and potentially career-ending – knee injuries. Suaalii sat beside the Morris twins in the dressing room. He saw what a rugby league career meant to a great of the game – someone twice his age – and he saw what it meant to Morris to be part of the club.

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For a teenager who wanted to keep his options open, it would be hard not to see that as a defining moment for a young man learning about his place in professional sport. If and when it comes to signing a new deal, the events of the past week are sure to be etched in his mind.

Unwelcome Matt

Broncos front-rower Matt Lodge could be forced out of Brisbane and he has been trying to generate some interest from the Roosters. But the tricolours haven’t forgotten something that happened a few years back.

The Roosters were prepared to provide Lodge a path back to the big time, but it had to be via Wyong, the Roosters’ feeder team at the time. Lodge didn’t like that idea one bit, so instead he went to Brisbane after telling the Roosters coaching staff he didn’t want to drive from western Sydney to Wyong each day. The Roosters have not forgotten that.

It’s hard to imagine him fitting into the culture created by tricolours coach Trent Robinson. The fact that Brisbane are willing to stump up $1 million to see him play somewhere else says a lot.

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