Infotainment Factory: Roosters eye Cronk replacement in NRL chaos

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Roosters eye Cronk replacement in NRL chaos


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NRL silly season is about to explode.

At midnight on Wednesday, as it ticks over to November 1, clubs are officially free to target off-contract players from rival clubs.

Central to the madness will be Cooper Cronk and the Sydney Roosters.

Cronk, who incredibly played out the Roosters’ grand final win with a broken shoulder, is off-contract and would be 36 by the time the 2020 season starts. This may well be his last season and that would bring the best available playmakers roaring into calculations as Roosters recruits.

They include Cameron Munster, Shaun Johnson, Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Luke Brooks. Munster and Brooks were the Dally M five-eighth and halfback of the year respectively last season.

More than 150 players will be up for grabs across the NRL, from superstars to battlers. Here is the full list, and where some key names may end up.

BRISBANE BRONCOS

Off-contract: Patrick Carrigan, George Fai, Alex Glenn, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai Jr, Andre Savelio.

The Broncos will hope to stop powerhouse young forward Tevita Pangai Jr from following Wayne Bennett to South Sydney after he decided to extend with the club for just one season (yet to become official). Decorated veteran Alex Glenn has declared his intention of re-signing with the Broncos with the aim of becoming a 300-game, one-club player. Joe Ofahengaue will be a key focus for Brisbane, having established himself as a beast off the bench last season. Controversial prop Matt Lodge remains unsigned for next season.

CANBERRA RAIDERS

Off-contract: Brad Abbey, Luke Bateman, Setefano Hala, Ata Hingano, Liam Knight, Jordan Rapana, Sam Williams.

New Zealand Test winger Jordan Rapana will be Canberra’s priority signing, despite having a rocky 2018 campaign. Young Kiwi playmaker Ata Hingano finds himself on the back foot to secure a new deal after copping a six-month shoulder injury in pre-season, giving journeyman Sam Williams a chance to impress.

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

Off-contract: Fa'amanu Brown, Danny Fualalo, Michael Lichaa, Rhyse Martin, Ofahiki Ogden, John Olive, Francis Tualau.

The Bulldogs’ salary cap remains in dire straits; club boss Andrew Hill has claimed they will not be in the position to chase any notable recruits until the 2021 season. Having already shed Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye mid-season this year, the Dogs now face losing David Klemmer to Newcastle and Kieran Foran has been linked with a return to Manly alongside Des Hasler.

CRONULLA SHARKS

Off-contract: Kurt Capewell, Sosaia Feki, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Aaron Gray, Valentine Holmes, Billy Magoulias, Toby Rudolf, Ava Seumanufagai, Scott Sorensen, Cruz Topai-Aveai, Braden Uele.

Valentine Holmes may slip through Cronulla’s fingers for reasons largely beyond their control, with the Test star eyeing off a move home to Townsville with the Cowboys. The Sharks have offered to make him the highest-paid player in their history, with a reported five-year, $4 million deal. Wade Graham is coming off an injury-hit season but remains highly valued, while Paul Gallen is expected to retire after next season. Hooker James Segeyaro is unsigned for next season and is unlikely to remain at the club; almost joining Wests Tigers but now linked with the Bulldogs and Knights.

GOLD COAST TITANS

Off-contract: Jesse Arthars, Michael Gordon, Ryley Jacks, Brenko Lee, Jack Stockwell.

The Titans have three spots left in their 30-man squad for next season and are in a holding pattern when it comes to a halves partner for highly-paid young star Ash Taylor. Ryley Jacks may earn himself a new deal if he impresses, or the Titans could chase a bigger name.

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES

Off-contract: Manase Fainu, Jack Gosiewski, Trent Hodkinson, Brad Parker, Lloyd Perrett, Toafofoa Sipley, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jorge Taufua, Joel Thompson, Dylan Walker, Frank Winterstein, Matthew Wright.

Dylan Walker headlines Manly’s off-contract list, though there have been whispers linking him with a return to South Sydney. The Sea Eagles have an existing headache in strongman forward Marty Taupau, contracted until 2020 but rumoured to want a move to the Sydney Roosters; while he’s also been linked to the Bulldogs. Young centre Moses Suli remains without a contract for 2019 after a difficult season in which he went from Wests Tigers to the Bulldogs to Manly – all in a matter of weeks.

MELBOURNE STORM

Off-contract: Patrick Kaufusi, Cameron Munster, Joe Stimson, Christian Welch

Munster, now one of the NRL’s best players despite a nightmare 2018 grand final, is the big prize for Melbourne and they are expected to retain his services despite interest from North Queensland. The Storm will be eager to keep GF forwards Christian Welch and Joe Stimson. A contract extension for captain Cameron Smith to play on into 2019 is dragging out but will surely be done.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

Off-contract: Blake Ayshford, James Gavet, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Karl Lawton, Issac Luke, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Agnatius Paasi, Ligi Sao, Lewis Soosemea, Jazz Tevaga, Joseph Vuna.

The Warriors finally retained feisty hooker Issac Luke on a one-year extension for 2019, meaning his future is immediately thrown back into doubt, off the back of strong interest from Newcastle this year. NZ Test halfback Shaun Johnson is the key signing, with Wests Tigers already announcing themselves as an interested rival club. The Eels, Broncos, Roosters and Raiders may well join that list.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Off-contract: Jamie Buhrer, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Slade Griffin, Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Strong back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon is highly rated at the Knights and will be a priority re-signing. Former Kiwi Test star Shaun Kenny-Dowall has enjoyed his time in Newcastle and will hope to earn an extension. Big-hearted hooker Slade Griffin will get precious little chance to impress in 2019, coming off a fourth major knee surgery and given little chance of seeing NRL footy.

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Off-contract: Carlin Anderson, Kurt Baptiste, Ben Barba, Logan Bayliss-Brow, Scott Bolton, Javid Bowen, Gavin Cooper, Reuben Cotter, Tom Gilbert, Ben Hampton, Coen Hess, Corey Jensen, Ethan Lowe, Te Maire Martin, Gideon Mosby-Gela, Justin O'Neill, Matthew Scott, Murray Taulagi, Enari Tuala, Kurt Wiltshire.

The Cowboys will free up a solid chunk of salary cap for 2020, with coach Paul Green expecting rep forwards Matt Scott and Gavin Cooper to retire. Big Origin forward Coen Hess will be a priority for extension, while Te Maire Martin will need to impress quickly alongside Michael Morgan to convince the Cowboys he deserves a longer-term commitment. Former Dally M Medallist Ben Barba is coming off a Man of Steel season in the Super League and will attract (wary) interest if his form again spikes.

PARRAMATTA EELS

Off-contract: Daniel Alvaro, Andrew Davey, Bevan French, Clinton Gutherson, Josh Hoffman, Greg Leleisiuao, Manu Ma'u, Reed Mahoney, Tim Mannah, Tepai Moeroa, Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman, Brad Takairangi.

The Eels’ biggest name of all, Jarryd Hayne, is yet to get a contract for 2019, though a report claims the club is willing to offload Michael Jennings to keep him from interested rivals such as Wests Tigers. Co-captain Clint Gutherson and tough forward Manu Ma’u will be priority re-signings, while contract negotiations for modestly-performed big names such as Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Tepai Moeroa will be fascinating.

PENRITH PANTHERS

Off-contract: Jed Cartwright, Wayde Egan, James Fisher-Harris, Tim Grant, Jack Hetherington, Sione Katoa, Sam McKendry.

The Panthers have already done their big business in the retention and recruitment market, re-signing NSW Origin halfback Nathan Cleary long-term and welcoming back his father, Ivan, as coach. Their sights will now turn to retaining New Zealand Test forward James Fisher Harris, while luckless prop Sam McKendry is coming back from a third ACL tear.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

Off-contract: Dean Britt, George Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Braidon Burns, Damien Cook, Joshua Cook, Jacob Gagan, Campbell Graham, Dean Hawkins, Mawene Hiroti, Matt McIlwrick, Cameron Murray, Mark Nicholls, Bayley Sironen, Lucky Ta'avale, Siosifa Talakai, Tevita Tatola, Tyrone Taukamo, Connor Tracey, Kyle Turner.

Having earned NSW Origin and Test honours in 2018, Damien Cook is reportedly seeking $800,000 per season for a new deal and wants to stay with the Rabbitohs. Other top priorities are the Burgess twins and young-gun forward Cameron Murray, while Dean Britt is another who impressed last season. Kyle Turner is free to look elsewhere and may land in the Super League.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Off-contract: Matthew Dufty, Jai Field, James Graham, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Joe Lovodua, Kurt Mann, Steven Marsters, Darren Nicholls, Reece Robson, Tristan Sailor, Tariq Sims.

James Graham has been an invaluable recruit for the Dragons and must decide whether to play on, or return to the Super League. Tariq Sims will be a priority re-signing after finally earning his NSW Origin debut in 2018. Lively fullback Matt Dufty is in the gun, according to The Mole, and may even be offloaded for 2019 due to concerns about his workrate.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Off-contract: Mitchell Aubusson, Cooper Cronk, Joshua Curran, Dylan Napa, Zane Tetevano, Sitili Tupouniua.

Cooper Cronk will likely be asked for a decision on his future early in the season, with the Roosters able to factor in his $1 million salary when chasing recruits if the champion halfback intends to retire, leaving a spot alongside Clive Churchill Medallist and new Test five-eighth Luke Keary. Mitchell Aubusson and Zane Tetevano are quality contributors who can be retained, while Dylan Napa could attract serious rival interest – potentially from Newcastle if it’s enormous bid for David Klemmer doesn’t come off. Napa has also been linked to the Bulldogs.

WESTS TIGERS

Off-contract: Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks, Michael Chee-Kam, Robbie Farah, Mahe Fonua, Tyson Gamble, Luke Garner, Chris Lawrence, Jacob Liddle, Benji Marshall, Sam McIntyre, Thomas Mikaele, Robbie Rochow, Dylan Smith, Corey Thompson.

Club heroes Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah are likely to retire, though Farah may play on if his form satisfies his old Rabbitohs coach turned Tigers boss Michael Maguire. Captain Chris Lawrence will sort out a new deal, while halfback Luke Brooks will be a key retention target. With the Tigers hinting they may also go after Warriors star Shaun Johnson, the future of big-money playmaker Josh Reynolds may come into question after an injury-hit first season at Concord.

 

NRL silly season is about to explode.

At midnight on Wednesday, as it ticks over to November 1, clubs are officially free to target off-contract players from rival clubs.

Central to the madness will be Cooper Cronk and the Sydney Roosters.

Cronk, who incredibly played out the Roosters’ grand final win with a broken shoulder, is off-contract and would be 36 by the time the 2020 season starts. This may well be his last season and that would bring the best available playmakers roaring into calculations as Roosters recruits.

They include Cameron Munster, Shaun Johnson, Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Luke Brooks. Munster and Brooks were the Dally M five-eighth and halfback of the year respectively last season.

More than 150 players will be up for grabs across the NRL, from superstars to battlers. Here is the full list, and where some key names may end up.

BRISBANE BRONCOS

Off-contract: Patrick Carrigan, George Fai, Alex Glenn, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai Jr, Andre Savelio.

The Broncos will hope to stop powerhouse young forward Tevita Pangai Jr from following Wayne Bennett to South Sydney after he decided to extend with the club for just one season (yet to become official). Decorated veteran Alex Glenn has declared his intention of re-signing with the Broncos with the aim of becoming a 300-game, one-club player. Joe Ofahengaue will be a key focus for Brisbane, having established himself as a beast off the bench last season. Controversial prop Matt Lodge remains unsigned for next season.

CANBERRA RAIDERS

Off-contract: Brad Abbey, Luke Bateman, Setefano Hala, Ata Hingano, Liam Knight, Jordan Rapana, Sam Williams.

New Zealand Test winger Jordan Rapana will be Canberra’s priority signing, despite having a rocky 2018 campaign. Young Kiwi playmaker Ata Hingano finds himself on the back foot to secure a new deal after copping a six-month shoulder injury in pre-season, giving journeyman Sam Williams a chance to impress.

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

Off-contract: Fa'amanu Brown, Danny Fualalo, Michael Lichaa, Rhyse Martin, Ofahiki Ogden, John Olive, Francis Tualau.

The Bulldogs’ salary cap remains in dire straits; club boss Andrew Hill has claimed they will not be in the position to chase any notable recruits until the 2021 season. Having already shed Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye mid-season this year, the Dogs now face losing David Klemmer to Newcastle and Kieran Foran has been linked with a return to Manly alongside Des Hasler.

CRONULLA SHARKS

Off-contract: Kurt Capewell, Sosaia Feki, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Aaron Gray, Valentine Holmes, Billy Magoulias, Toby Rudolf, Ava Seumanufagai, Scott Sorensen, Cruz Topai-Aveai, Braden Uele.

Valentine Holmes may slip through Cronulla’s fingers for reasons largely beyond their control, with the Test star eyeing off a move home to Townsville with the Cowboys. The Sharks have offered to make him the highest-paid player in their history, with a reported five-year, $4 million deal. Wade Graham is coming off an injury-hit season but remains highly valued, while Paul Gallen is expected to retire after next season. Hooker James Segeyaro is unsigned for next season and is unlikely to remain at the club; almost joining Wests Tigers but now linked with the Bulldogs and Knights.

GOLD COAST TITANS

Off-contract: Jesse Arthars, Michael Gordon, Ryley Jacks, Brenko Lee, Jack Stockwell.

The Titans have three spots left in their 30-man squad for next season and are in a holding pattern when it comes to a halves partner for highly-paid young star Ash Taylor. Ryley Jacks may earn himself a new deal if he impresses, or the Titans could chase a bigger name.

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES

Off-contract: Manase Fainu, Jack Gosiewski, Trent Hodkinson, Brad Parker, Lloyd Perrett, Toafofoa Sipley, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jorge Taufua, Joel Thompson, Dylan Walker, Frank Winterstein, Matthew Wright.

Dylan Walker headlines Manly’s off-contract list, though there have been whispers linking him with a return to South Sydney. The Sea Eagles have an existing headache in strongman forward Marty Taupau, contracted until 2020 but rumoured to want a move to the Sydney Roosters; while he’s also been linked to the Bulldogs. Young centre Moses Suli remains without a contract for 2019 after a difficult season in which he went from Wests Tigers to the Bulldogs to Manly – all in a matter of weeks.

MELBOURNE STORM

Off-contract: Patrick Kaufusi, Cameron Munster, Joe Stimson, Christian Welch

Munster, now one of the NRL’s best players despite a nightmare 2018 grand final, is the big prize for Melbourne and they are expected to retain his services despite interest from North Queensland. The Storm will be eager to keep GF forwards Christian Welch and Joe Stimson. A contract extension for captain Cameron Smith to play on into 2019 is dragging out but will surely be done.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

Off-contract: Blake Ayshford, James Gavet, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Karl Lawton, Issac Luke, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Agnatius Paasi, Ligi Sao, Lewis Soosemea, Jazz Tevaga, Joseph Vuna.

The Warriors finally retained feisty hooker Issac Luke on a one-year extension for 2019, meaning his future is immediately thrown back into doubt, off the back of strong interest from Newcastle this year. NZ Test halfback Shaun Johnson is the key signing, with Wests Tigers already announcing themselves as an interested rival club. The Eels, Broncos, Roosters and Raiders may well join that list.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Off-contract: Jamie Buhrer, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Slade Griffin, Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Strong back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon is highly rated at the Knights and will be a priority re-signing. Former Kiwi Test star Shaun Kenny-Dowall has enjoyed his time in Newcastle and will hope to earn an extension. Big-hearted hooker Slade Griffin will get precious little chance to impress in 2019, coming off a fourth major knee surgery and given little chance of seeing NRL footy.

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Off-contract: Carlin Anderson, Kurt Baptiste, Ben Barba, Logan Bayliss-Brow, Scott Bolton, Javid Bowen, Gavin Cooper, Reuben Cotter, Tom Gilbert, Ben Hampton, Coen Hess, Corey Jensen, Ethan Lowe, Te Maire Martin, Gideon Mosby-Gela, Justin O'Neill, Matthew Scott, Murray Taulagi, Enari Tuala, Kurt Wiltshire.

The Cowboys will free up a solid chunk of salary cap for 2020, with coach Paul Green expecting rep forwards Matt Scott and Gavin Cooper to retire. Big Origin forward Coen Hess will be a priority for extension, while Te Maire Martin will need to impress quickly alongside Michael Morgan to convince the Cowboys he deserves a longer-term commitment. Former Dally M Medallist Ben Barba is coming off a Man of Steel season in the Super League and will attract (wary) interest if his form again spikes.

PARRAMATTA EELS

Off-contract: Daniel Alvaro, Andrew Davey, Bevan French, Clinton Gutherson, Josh Hoffman, Greg Leleisiuao, Manu Ma'u, Reed Mahoney, Tim Mannah, Tepai Moeroa, Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman, Brad Takairangi.

The Eels’ biggest name of all, Jarryd Hayne, is yet to get a contract for 2019, though a report claims the club is willing to offload Michael Jennings to keep him from interested rivals such as Wests Tigers. Co-captain Clint Gutherson and tough forward Manu Ma’u will be priority re-signings, while contract negotiations for modestly-performed big names such as Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Tepai Moeroa will be fascinating.

PENRITH PANTHERS

Off-contract: Jed Cartwright, Wayde Egan, James Fisher-Harris, Tim Grant, Jack Hetherington, Sione Katoa, Sam McKendry.

The Panthers have already done their big business in the retention and recruitment market, re-signing NSW Origin halfback Nathan Cleary long-term and welcoming back his father, Ivan, as coach. Their sights will now turn to retaining New Zealand Test forward James Fisher Harris, while luckless prop Sam McKendry is coming back from a third ACL tear.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

Off-contract: Dean Britt, George Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Braidon Burns, Damien Cook, Joshua Cook, Jacob Gagan, Campbell Graham, Dean Hawkins, Mawene Hiroti, Matt McIlwrick, Cameron Murray, Mark Nicholls, Bayley Sironen, Lucky Ta'avale, Siosifa Talakai, Tevita Tatola, Tyrone Taukamo, Connor Tracey, Kyle Turner.

Having earned NSW Origin and Test honours in 2018, Damien Cook is reportedly seeking $800,000 per season for a new deal and wants to stay with the Rabbitohs. Other top priorities are the Burgess twins and young-gun forward Cameron Murray, while Dean Britt is another who impressed last season. Kyle Turner is free to look elsewhere and may land in the Super League.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Off-contract: Matthew Dufty, Jai Field, James Graham, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Joe Lovodua, Kurt Mann, Steven Marsters, Darren Nicholls, Reece Robson, Tristan Sailor, Tariq Sims.

James Graham has been an invaluable recruit for the Dragons and must decide whether to play on, or return to the Super League. Tariq Sims will be a priority re-signing after finally earning his NSW Origin debut in 2018. Lively fullback Matt Dufty is in the gun, according to The Mole, and may even be offloaded for 2019 due to concerns about his workrate.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Off-contract: Mitchell Aubusson, Cooper Cronk, Joshua Curran, Dylan Napa, Zane Tetevano, Sitili Tupouniua.

Cooper Cronk will likely be asked for a decision on his future early in the season, with the Roosters able to factor in his $1 million salary when chasing recruits if the champion halfback intends to retire, leaving a spot alongside Clive Churchill Medallist and new Test five-eighth Luke Keary. Mitchell Aubusson and Zane Tetevano are quality contributors who can be retained, while Dylan Napa could attract serious rival interest – potentially from Newcastle if it’s enormous bid for David Klemmer doesn’t come off. Napa has also been linked to the Bulldogs.

WESTS TIGERS

Off-contract: Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks, Michael Chee-Kam, Robbie Farah, Mahe Fonua, Tyson Gamble, Luke Garner, Chris Lawrence, Jacob Liddle, Benji Marshall, Sam McIntyre, Thomas Mikaele, Robbie Rochow, Dylan Smith, Corey Thompson.

Club heroes Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah are likely to retire, though Farah may play on if his form satisfies his old Rabbitohs coach turned Tigers boss Michael Maguire. Captain Chris Lawrence will sort out a new deal, while halfback Luke Brooks will be a key retention target. With the Tigers hinting they may also go after Warriors star Shaun Johnson, the future of big-money playmaker Josh Reynolds may come into question after an injury-hit first season at Concord.

 

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