Infotainment Factory: Off contract stars set to spark bidding frenzy

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Thursday, 7 March 2019

Off contract stars set to spark bidding frenzy


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Mitchell Moses

Mitchell Moses is contracted to the Parramatta Eels until the end of the 2019 season, on a deal that will pay him $700,000 this year. Moses knows he needs to perform after a tumultuous season in 2018 that led to the Eels telling the 24-year-old he was free to find another club. Luckily for the former Tigers five-eighth the Eels sent Corey Norman to the Dragons, giving the former Blues hopeful a chance at leading the team around the park. With Norman gone, he is expected to be the senior halves partner helping rookies Dylan Brown and Jaemon Salmon transition to the top grade.

Moses was signed by Parramatta midway through the 2017 campaign from Wests Tigers, and arrived with much fanfare. Defensive deficiencies aside, he showed a bunch of potential early on, adding the spark the club needed in the halves to lead the Eels to their first finals series in eight years. Yet he couldn’t replicate the same form in 2018 and Parra finished the season in last place with Moses and Norman failing to gel on the field with the side also missing the robust services of winger Semi Radradra.

Moses was reportedly close to being swapped to the Broncos for Jack Bird but the deal was called off by then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. There were also rumours the much-maligned Parramatta playmaker was being shopped to the Warriors as part of a possible swap deal with Shaun Johnson but that didn’t eventuate with Johnson landing at the Sharks. The 24-year-old admitted the thought of not being wanted by the Eels hurt at first but it didn’t take long to turn his focus into preparing for a big year for Parramatta this year.

"We weren't happy as a team (in 2018) but personally I wasn't happy with the way I played," Moses told NRL.com

"That's why I've chosen to do what I'm doing at the moment.

"I need to put myself in the best position to play the best footy I can."

And Moses put plans in place to do just that, shunning a trip to Las Vegas with his teammates at the end of last season to give himself his longest pre-season since he was a teenager. Moses went on a trip to Lebanon as soon as the season finished and had been planning to head to the USA with teammates when he came back. But the playmaker knew the upcoming season could be career-defining in the wider scheme of things.

"When I got back from Lebanon something just clicked," he admitted.

"I thought 'that's it, enough is enough'. I'm 24 years old now and with the season I just had, I couldn't reward myself with another holiday to Vegas. Honestly, I hadn't earned it. I want to do something in this game. I don't want to look back in regret of what could have been.

"I knew going away wasn't the best thing for me, I needed to get back and work on being the player I wanted to be. I just felt I needed to get a head start on everyone else.

"I was disappointed in the way I played last year. I just know that's not the footy player I am. I am better than that. I just wanted to come back this pre-season – not to prove a point – but to get back to the footy I know I can play. I want to get Parramatta back to the top."

If Moses can guide the Eels to a top eight spot then there’s still no guarantee the Eels will keep him. If the Eels decide to let him go at the end of the year, the Balmain junior’s market value may dip a bit but he should still have more than enough offers from rival NRL clubs especially due to the market for off-contract halfbacks next season being thin on talent.

Tevita Pangai Junior

Pangai is seen as one of the rising stars of the game with NSW coach Brad Fittler declaring the Broncos youngster and teammate Payne Haas as potential bolters for the Blues in this year’s State of Origin series. Pangai was born in Sydney and played his junior football in Newcastle.

The young forward will have no shortage of offers from rival clubs when comes off contract at the end of this season. The Broncos signed Pangai to a one-year extension for 2019 with reports suggesting he opted for a shorter deal so he could join former Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett at South Sydney. The star forward said the reason behind the one-year extension was purely down to testing his value on the open market next year. But one can’t discount Pangai’s relationship with Bennett, with many keen judges sure the big forward will end up at Redfern next season. Even Bennett mentioned how close he is with the young star last year before the coach swap shenanigans took place, with the legendary coach's links to the forward spanning back to his Newcastle days, where Pangai impressed in the lower grades.

Pangai Jnr

"He came here because of me and that's why he's here at this club, for no other reason," Bennett said at the time.

"I am just pleased he is playing the football he is. We've got a pretty special relationship.

"I always knew what he could do and we just had to give him the time to be able to do that."

Pangai also denied he opted for a shorter deal so he could join Bennett next year.

"It's got nothing to do with what's happened with Wayne leaving the club. I told the club way back in Round 2 after the Cowboys game that I only wanted to do a 12-month deal," he told The Courier Mail.

"I'm a young guy and I want to back myself.

"I think I've got a lot of improvement in me as a player and it's in my best interests to do a one-year deal.

"I love the Broncos but I have to do what's best for myself as an individual, so just the one year suits me.

"It's always been my intention to keep working hard and keep challenging myself."

Salary cap pressures left the Broncos at a disadvantage and the club could not sign all their big names to multi-year extensions, however, Brisbane remains confident of securing his services long-term. The Broncos will do everything possible to keep him on their books considering they’ve lost so much experience in their forward pack with the loss of Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire and Korbin Sims. Yet the fact that Pangai can play a more bustling role in the middle in addition to playing on an edge only increases his market value and will see a host of clubs potentially break the bank to snare him.

Issac Luke

The 31-year-old will remain at the Warriors for the 2019 season after signing a one-year deal. The Kiwi was on a cut-price contract with the Warriors no more than $200,000 for the season, but it's said extra money left over from the cash they saved by sending Shaun Johnson to the Sharks was allocated for Luke.

"Both parties are happy with where it's ended up," Luke's manager, Bruce Sharnock, told Stuff.

Luke's management and the club had been wrangling for months at the end of last year before a one-year extension was signed.

The hooker attracted interest from Newcastle and Parramatta, with the latter willing to offer him a two-year deal worth around $700,000. A clause in his contract stated the Warriors would act in 'good faith' if a more lucrative offer came about but in the end it seems the club wasn't willing to let him go.

And it's not hard to see why, even though Luke is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery which will see him miss the club's opener against the Bulldogs.

Despite being in his early thirties, Luke can still add a whole lot to a team from dummy-half. While the Eels were trying to score his signature, Former Penrith enforcer Mark Geyer said the western Sydney club would be lucky to have such a player.

"I love [the idea of poaching Luke]. I really do. I think it's an astute signing. He's [31], he's a Kiwi international," Geyer said on Triple M's The Rush Hour with MG.

"If they signed him ... I'm going to put them up another two or three spots because of one recruitment," Geyer said.

"But the experience of Issac Luke, you can have instant success. You have instant success."

Despite being in the latter part of his career, Luke still possess the quickness and the smarts to be a valuable addition to any team especially those who have inexperience at the hooking position. Luke's market value probably won't increase that much from the type of money Parra was willing to pay for him, but that will play in his favour when rival NRL teams come knocking once his deal expires with the Warriors at the end of the season.

Corey Oates

Oates inked a one-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos with the club unable to offer long-term extensions to several stars in their squad. Despite the money not being there this year, the outside back is still optimistic about earning a long-term contract at the club that first signed him as a teenager.

Oates has crossed the stripe for 78 tries in 120 games for the Broncos and was the club's leading try scorer in 2018 with 18.

"The best thing to do was to get the one-year deal sorted. I don't want to go anywhere else," Oates said.

"I did a one-year deal last season to prove that I deserve a bigger contract, not money-wise, but because I want to stay here for a long time and do whatever I can for this club."

Corey Oates

And its those type of numbers that will make the Maroons star an attractive proposition for clubs for the 2020 season if he can repeat that sort of form this year. Oates has come into his own over the last few seasons and it will come as no surprise that former Broncos mentor and now Souths coach Wayne Bennett will try and lure him to the Bunnies. Oates is sure to command big numbers on the open market, with his try-scoring and appearances for the Maroons undoubtedly sparking interest from other clubs. Furthermore, he would be the highest profile winger to come on to the market along with Canberra's Jordan Rapana.

Although it may be tough for Oates to leave Brisbane with the winger having spread himself across Queensland through several third party deals, including one with radio station Nova.

George Burgess

Burgess, who is off contract at the end of 2019, recently rejected an approach from Parramatta to join the Eels this season, deciding to try and prove his worth to new coach Wayne Bennett. 

It was reported earlier in the year that Burgess wasn't happy with the money on the table from South Sydney and approached former coach Anthony Seibold about joining Brisbane.

But Brisbane's salary cap situation stopped the club from making a play, with Red Hill officials needing to get rid of a player on their roster to make it happen.

Burgess was mulling a decision to join Parramatta but in the end decided to stay at Redfern with his brothers.

"It was a hard decision; it was a good offer from the Eels," Burgess said.

"They're a great club. I definitely think they're a club that's on the up. But ultimately, South Sydney is where my heart is and it's a club that I've spent a lot of time at.

"I've played all my first-grade games here and to leave under those circumstances wasn't ideal for me. The timing just wasn't right and I decided to go with the heart rather than the head."

Burgess is near the top of the list of front-rowers hitting the market at the end of the year, while other younger players will also attract interest.

Mitchell Moses

Mitchell Moses is contracted to the Parramatta Eels until the end of the 2019 season, on a deal that will pay him $700,000 this year. Moses knows he needs to perform after a tumultuous season in 2018 that led to the Eels telling the 24-year-old he was free to find another club. Luckily for the former Tigers five-eighth the Eels sent Corey Norman to the Dragons, giving the former Blues hopeful a chance at leading the team around the park. With Norman gone, he is expected to be the senior halves partner helping rookies Dylan Brown and Jaemon Salmon transition to the top grade.

Moses was signed by Parramatta midway through the 2017 campaign from Wests Tigers, and arrived with much fanfare. Defensive deficiencies aside, he showed a bunch of potential early on, adding the spark the club needed in the halves to lead the Eels to their first finals series in eight years. Yet he couldn’t replicate the same form in 2018 and Parra finished the season in last place with Moses and Norman failing to gel on the field with the side also missing the robust services of winger Semi Radradra.

Moses was reportedly close to being swapped to the Broncos for Jack Bird but the deal was called off by then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. There were also rumours the much-maligned Parramatta playmaker was being shopped to the Warriors as part of a possible swap deal with Shaun Johnson but that didn’t eventuate with Johnson landing at the Sharks. The 24-year-old admitted the thought of not being wanted by the Eels hurt at first but it didn’t take long to turn his focus into preparing for a big year for Parramatta this year.

"We weren't happy as a team (in 2018) but personally I wasn't happy with the way I played," Moses told NRL.com

"That's why I've chosen to do what I'm doing at the moment.

"I need to put myself in the best position to play the best footy I can."

And Moses put plans in place to do just that, shunning a trip to Las Vegas with his teammates at the end of last season to give himself his longest pre-season since he was a teenager. Moses went on a trip to Lebanon as soon as the season finished and had been planning to head to the USA with teammates when he came back. But the playmaker knew the upcoming season could be career-defining in the wider scheme of things.

"When I got back from Lebanon something just clicked," he admitted.

"I thought 'that's it, enough is enough'. I'm 24 years old now and with the season I just had, I couldn't reward myself with another holiday to Vegas. Honestly, I hadn't earned it. I want to do something in this game. I don't want to look back in regret of what could have been.

"I knew going away wasn't the best thing for me, I needed to get back and work on being the player I wanted to be. I just felt I needed to get a head start on everyone else.

"I was disappointed in the way I played last year. I just know that's not the footy player I am. I am better than that. I just wanted to come back this pre-season – not to prove a point – but to get back to the footy I know I can play. I want to get Parramatta back to the top."

If Moses can guide the Eels to a top eight spot then there’s still no guarantee the Eels will keep him. If the Eels decide to let him go at the end of the year, the Balmain junior’s market value may dip a bit but he should still have more than enough offers from rival NRL clubs especially due to the market for off-contract halfbacks next season being thin on talent.

Tevita Pangai Junior

Pangai is seen as one of the rising stars of the game with NSW coach Brad Fittler declaring the Broncos youngster and teammate Payne Haas as potential bolters for the Blues in this year’s State of Origin series. Pangai was born in Sydney and played his junior football in Newcastle.

The young forward will have no shortage of offers from rival clubs when comes off contract at the end of this season. The Broncos signed Pangai to a one-year extension for 2019 with reports suggesting he opted for a shorter deal so he could join former Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett at South Sydney. The star forward said the reason behind the one-year extension was purely down to testing his value on the open market next year. But one can’t discount Pangai’s relationship with Bennett, with many keen judges sure the big forward will end up at Redfern next season. Even Bennett mentioned how close he is with the young star last year before the coach swap shenanigans took place, with the legendary coach's links to the forward spanning back to his Newcastle days, where Pangai impressed in the lower grades.

Pangai Jnr

"He came here because of me and that's why he's here at this club, for no other reason," Bennett said at the time.

"I am just pleased he is playing the football he is. We've got a pretty special relationship.

"I always knew what he could do and we just had to give him the time to be able to do that."

Pangai also denied he opted for a shorter deal so he could join Bennett next year.

"It's got nothing to do with what's happened with Wayne leaving the club. I told the club way back in Round 2 after the Cowboys game that I only wanted to do a 12-month deal," he told The Courier Mail.

"I'm a young guy and I want to back myself.

"I think I've got a lot of improvement in me as a player and it's in my best interests to do a one-year deal.

"I love the Broncos but I have to do what's best for myself as an individual, so just the one year suits me.

"It's always been my intention to keep working hard and keep challenging myself."

Salary cap pressures left the Broncos at a disadvantage and the club could not sign all their big names to multi-year extensions, however, Brisbane remains confident of securing his services long-term. The Broncos will do everything possible to keep him on their books considering they’ve lost so much experience in their forward pack with the loss of Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire and Korbin Sims. Yet the fact that Pangai can play a more bustling role in the middle in addition to playing on an edge only increases his market value and will see a host of clubs potentially break the bank to snare him.

Issac Luke

The 31-year-old will remain at the Warriors for the 2019 season after signing a one-year deal. The Kiwi was on a cut-price contract with the Warriors no more than $200,000 for the season, but it's said extra money left over from the cash they saved by sending Shaun Johnson to the Sharks was allocated for Luke.

"Both parties are happy with where it's ended up," Luke's manager, Bruce Sharnock, told Stuff.

Luke's management and the club had been wrangling for months at the end of last year before a one-year extension was signed.

The hooker attracted interest from Newcastle and Parramatta, with the latter willing to offer him a two-year deal worth around $700,000. A clause in his contract stated the Warriors would act in 'good faith' if a more lucrative offer came about but in the end it seems the club wasn't willing to let him go.

And it's not hard to see why, even though Luke is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery which will see him miss the club's opener against the Bulldogs.

Despite being in his early thirties, Luke can still add a whole lot to a team from dummy-half. While the Eels were trying to score his signature, Former Penrith enforcer Mark Geyer said the western Sydney club would be lucky to have such a player.

"I love [the idea of poaching Luke]. I really do. I think it's an astute signing. He's [31], he's a Kiwi international," Geyer said on Triple M's The Rush Hour with MG.

"If they signed him ... I'm going to put them up another two or three spots because of one recruitment," Geyer said.

"But the experience of Issac Luke, you can have instant success. You have instant success."

Despite being in the latter part of his career, Luke still possess the quickness and the smarts to be a valuable addition to any team especially those who have inexperience at the hooking position. Luke's market value probably won't increase that much from the type of money Parra was willing to pay for him, but that will play in his favour when rival NRL teams come knocking once his deal expires with the Warriors at the end of the season.

Corey Oates

Oates inked a one-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos with the club unable to offer long-term extensions to several stars in their squad. Despite the money not being there this year, the outside back is still optimistic about earning a long-term contract at the club that first signed him as a teenager.

Oates has crossed the stripe for 78 tries in 120 games for the Broncos and was the club's leading try scorer in 2018 with 18.

"The best thing to do was to get the one-year deal sorted. I don't want to go anywhere else," Oates said.

"I did a one-year deal last season to prove that I deserve a bigger contract, not money-wise, but because I want to stay here for a long time and do whatever I can for this club."

Corey Oates

And its those type of numbers that will make the Maroons star an attractive proposition for clubs for the 2020 season if he can repeat that sort of form this year. Oates has come into his own over the last few seasons and it will come as no surprise that former Broncos mentor and now Souths coach Wayne Bennett will try and lure him to the Bunnies. Oates is sure to command big numbers on the open market, with his try-scoring and appearances for the Maroons undoubtedly sparking interest from other clubs. Furthermore, he would be the highest profile winger to come on to the market along with Canberra's Jordan Rapana.

Although it may be tough for Oates to leave Brisbane with the winger having spread himself across Queensland through several third party deals, including one with radio station Nova.

George Burgess

Burgess, who is off contract at the end of 2019, recently rejected an approach from Parramatta to join the Eels this season, deciding to try and prove his worth to new coach Wayne Bennett. 

It was reported earlier in the year that Burgess wasn't happy with the money on the table from South Sydney and approached former coach Anthony Seibold about joining Brisbane.

But Brisbane's salary cap situation stopped the club from making a play, with Red Hill officials needing to get rid of a player on their roster to make it happen.

Burgess was mulling a decision to join Parramatta but in the end decided to stay at Redfern with his brothers.

"It was a hard decision; it was a good offer from the Eels," Burgess said.

"They're a great club. I definitely think they're a club that's on the up. But ultimately, South Sydney is where my heart is and it's a club that I've spent a lot of time at.

"I've played all my first-grade games here and to leave under those circumstances wasn't ideal for me. The timing just wasn't right and I decided to go with the heart rather than the head."

Burgess is near the top of the list of front-rowers hitting the market at the end of the year, while other younger players will also attract interest.

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