A year ago, Jarryd Hayne was on the radar of almost every NRL club after he abandoned his American football dream. But the past week, with almost every off-contract NRL player linked to rival clubs, has highlighted just how far Hayne has fallen from grace since his return to rugby league.
Not one club has signalled an interest in Hayne. Not publicly, anyway. The Bulldogs and Roosters are on the lookout for a fullback, while the Dragons and Tigers might need a new No.1 – yet still no mention of Hayne. It wasn’t that long ago that Hayne was the most sought-after athlete in the country. His stint with the San Francisco 49ers saw him become a national hero, but his reputation has since taken a battering following the concerns over his attitude that were highlighted at the start of the season.
He still hasn’t decided whether to take up an option to remain at the Gold Coast next year for $1.2million – but it seems as though his options have dwindled down to the Titans and French rugby. This column first mentioned at the start of the season that Parramatta had no interest in luring the prodigal son home, scarred by Hayne’s decision to turn his back on the club to sign a lucrative deal with the Titans last year.
The Roosters and Bulldogs were once keen on Hayne, but that interest has diminished. And it’s unlikely the Tigers will pursue him because his attitude towards training won’t sit well with new coach Ivan Cleary. Granted, his injury has prevented him the opportunity to put himself in the shop window, but his reputation in rugby league circles has taken a battering.
He is expected to return from injury in two to three weeks, just in time for a last-minute audition for an Origin return. Blues coach Laurie Daley wants to pick him. He knows just how instrumental he can be for NSW. However, they are waiting for Hayne to give them a reason to pick him.
Graham deal breaker?
We mentioned last week that Newcastle had identified James Graham as a recruitment target, with the Bulldogs looking to offload their skipper to accommodate the potential arrival of James Tedesco and Aaron Woods at Belmore.
Only problem for Canterbury is that the Englishman is on a heavily back-ended deal worth close to $1m for 2018. While Graham has plenty of qualities that will benefit a team like Newcastle or the Wests Tigers, there is no way any club will pay anywhere near seven figures for the prop.
It’s interesting to note that Graham has a close relationship with Knights chief executive Matt Gidley from their playing days together at St Helens in the English Super League. The Knights missed out on Matt Scott and will make a big play at Graham – although the decision of Woods and Tedesco will have a bearing on where he plays next year. Graham won’t jump. He’ll have to be pushed.
Moses may have to wait
Parramatta are expecting Mitchell Moses to be released after this Monday’s game against the Tigers. And the likelihood is that will happen, which will coincide with the return of Luke Brooks from a hamstring injury for the Tigers.
However, a number of Tigers officials insist it’s not a done deal and there’s still a possibility Moses finishes the season with the club before linking with the Eels in 2018. Ultimately, Ivan Cleary will make the final decision – but Moses has handled himself with class since announcing he would be leaving the club. That’s made it even harder for Cleary to let him go. If he had chucked his toys out of the cot, he would already be gone.
Call for salary cap top up
???A few eyebrows were raised last week at the news Penrith had re-signed Dean Whare for another five seasons, given almost every player has been secured for 2018 and beyond. The Panthers have built their roster for next season budgeting for a $9 million salary cap.
While the initial proposal by the NRL is well short at $8.3m, it’s expected that will rise after negotiations. Given the uncertainty around the cap for next season, Panthers boss Brian Fletcher has proposed an idea that will prohibit clubs from being sanctioned for minor breaches of the salary cap next year. Fletcher said clubs should be allowed to spend up to $300,000 of their own money on top of the cap to compensate for the NRL’s lack of clarity.
Penrith coach Anthony Griffin is standing by his decision to drop Matt Moylan, Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake to NSW Cup for breaching the club’s protocols despite losing to South Sydney on Friday night. There has been some confusion over the severity of their indiscretion, but it was as simple as the players going out when they had been told to stay at the team hotel.
The Panthers organised a room for the players in which they were allowed to drink, but the trio disobeyed instructions and left the team hotel. Griffin’s punishment had the potential to upset his skipper, but he insists that never entered his thinking.
“I don’t think that was ever going to happen. They’re good people,” Griffin said. “At times in footy clubs you are going to go through periods where you make decisions to make sure your standard are correct. Everyone is going to have an opinion on if that’s right or wrong but in our club everyone is on board with the direction we want to go.”???
Payten still welcome
???Todd Payten, the man overlooked for the Tigers head coaching job because of the way he departed the joint venture, was invited to a Tigers members function in Townsville on the eve of their clash with the Cowboys.
Payten, who is now an assistant to Paul Green at the Cowboys, was an early contender to replace the sacked Jason Taylor but the club quickly put a line through his name because of an internal perception that he contributed to the demise of Mick Potter.
However he was still happy to join John Skandalis to talk to club members while Ivan Cleary was having dinner with the Tigers players in the room next door.
A timely hug?
The photos of Tigers chair Marina Go hugging the players after the win against the Cowboys in Townsville was misconstrued as a last gasp effort to keep Aaron Woods and James Tedesco in Tiger town. However it wasn’t a calculated show of affection. Go regularly greets her players with a hug after games. It was just timely she was snapped doing so after one the most tumultuous weeks in the club’s history.