Cronulla is threatening to rain on Newcastle’s parade and hijack the Knights’ bid to sign Sydney Roosters winger Blake Ferguson.
In an ironic twist, Newcastle’s successful raid on the Sharks, that snared outside backs Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee, may come back to bite them with Cronulla poised to make a last ditch play to secure Ferguson because of their thinning backline stocks.
Suddenly, a three-way battle for Ferguson’s signature involving the Knights, Parramatta and the Roosters has just got a little more complicated with the Sharks now circling.
We’re told Shane Flanagan met with Ferguson privately a few days ago and pleaded with him not to make a final decision on his future until the Sharks coach returns home from Auckland following last night’s clash against the Warriors.
Cronulla’s 11th hour bid has Knights insiders more than a little nervous but still hopeful the club’s offer will be good enough to entice him north.
Why Flanagan thinks it’s a good idea to re-unit Ferguson and Josh Dugan is anyone’s guess.
But as it stands, the Knights are offering Ferguson a lucrative three year deal, the chance to buy a house for the first time and work opportunities outside of football in the indigenous community when his career finishes.
Ferguson’s manager Sam Ayoub is believed to be chasing four years for the 28-year-old but Newcastle isn’t budging and he is unlikely to get that deal at any other club.
We’re told the Roosters offer, at this stage, is for just one year and they will struggle to get near the money the Knights are talking.
In the Roosters’ favour is Ferguson has made it known his first preference is to remain at Bondi.
Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce, a close mate of Ferguson, has been working the phones, hoping to help get the deal over the line but even he is not sure which way it will go.
Kalyn Ponga had more than 20 relatives and friends, some from as far away as New Zealand and Western Australian, at ANZ Stadium last Sunday for his Origin debut.
He didn’t disappoint, delivering a freakish performance that has everyone is the game talking about his unbelievable talent.
If you were picking the top 10 players in rugby league right now, it would be just about impossible to leave him out. Even at this early stage of his career, a Kangaroos jumper beckons and how long will it be before he is regarded as the NRL’s number one player?
But refreshingly, the kid himself remains as grounded as they come and not bothered by the hype and the fuss, which is probably why he gave away the headgear he wore in his first Origin game without a second thought.
No doubt a wonderful family upbringing has a lot to do with the way he conducts himself.
He doesn’t read his own press and is taking nothing for granted with his career because he has just enrolled at Newcastle University to start a business degree after opting against studying to become a teacher.
We have discovered the one thing the mercurial young fullback is not – apparently he is no student of the history of the game.
When he gave away his headgear to a young kid dressed in NSW Blues gear after the game, he had no way of knowing it was the son of NSW coaching assistant and former Penrith premiership-winner Greg Alexander.
He only found out when he heard about all the publicity the next day.
Even then, Ponga couldn’t quite work out all the fuss.
Turns out, he didn’t even know who Greg Alexander was until he asked his uncle.
Former Knight Dylan Phythian’s potential NRL return may come via Garth Brennan at the Gold Coast Titans.
After the briefest of brief stints at Lakes United, Phythian will play out the season with the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup, one of two official feeder clubs to the Gold Coast.
No doubt he will be angling to try and earn a pre-season with the Titans come November.
It was the secret meeting Nathan Brown would have preferred remained under wraps.
The Knights coach met with controversial Parramatta playmaker Corey Norman a couple of weeks back in Newcastle - a meeting believed to have been instigated by Norman’s manager Paul Sutton.
News of the club’s potential interest in him found its way onto social media this week. Trouble was, by the time it came to light, it was old news.
It was suggested the Knights were actively pursuing Norman. They’re not which is why Brown denied the rumour this week. We’re told talks didn’t go any further than that one meeting.
If it was purely on football ability, Brown may well have had a crack.
But Norman comes with more off-field baggage than most, which is why the Eels are shopping him around and why we doubt Knights CEO Phil Gardner and the club’s footy committee would have endorsed it.
Another factor is Norman comes with a massive price tag in excess of $900,000, which would have left Newcastle with two halves worth close to $2 million.
We’re now told Norman has had an approach from English Super League club Warrington.
IN a sign of the strength of the Knights junior system, 15 players have been chosen to play in the Australian Under 15’s and Under 18’s schoolboys championships.
While most sports are making an attempt to embrace video technology, Northern NSW soccer officials continue to frustrate their own Premier League clubs by turning a blind eye to the potential benefits.
Northern won’t use video footage for disciplinary issues, instead relying on the on-field actions and reports of its match officials.
Northern boss David Eland justifies the decision to ignore potential video evidence because he claims there are not camera angles to make a fair judgement.
It has left plenty of people involved in soccer locally shaking their heads.
League and rugby officials clearly share a different view.
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