He's controversial, polarising even but he can play - and he could be coming to a footy team near you.
The Newcastle Knights are understood to be again in talks, along with a couple of other NRL rivals, to bring Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge to the club this season. And there is a chance Cowboys playmaker Jake Clifford could join him.
Clifford, who played against Newcastle on Thursday night, has been signed by the Knights for the next two seasons but could be released by the Cowboys sooner rather than later with reports Brisbane is close to letting halfback Tom Deardon leave Red Hill immediately for Townsville. Clifford's fate is in the hands of Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
As for Lodge, it is no secret the Broncos are keen to off-load him on a cut-price deal that could see them stump up for half of his $800,000 a-season salary.
The Knights, who chased Lodge previously back in 2018 when Nathan Brown was coach, are believed to be very interested if he comes at the right price.
Their interest in Lodge has nothing to do with false rumours last week they were looking to swap David Klemmer for him. The club won't be off-loading anyone even if they manage to snare the Broncos bad-boy.
Only last week, CEO Phil Gardner told us he doesn't want the Knights to be paying a player to play at a rival club.
"This club has done that before but we don't want to be doing it again. We need to be getting our recruitment right,"he said. Stay turned.
Mann's new deal
Utility Kurt Mann has been offered a new two-year deal to extend his stay at the Knights beyond the end of the season.
While his form over the past couple of weeks has been down along with most of the team, Mann's versatility, his toughness and competitiveness are traits coach Adam O'Brien values highly.
While he is yet to put pen to paper, Mann and his young family are keen to stay in Newcastle so his re-signing is considered a fait accompli.
It's expected Connor Watson will also be offered a new deal by the club over the next few weeks along with young backrower Brodie Jones.
We're hearing the Knights have held very preliminary talks with Dane Gagai's manager about the possibility of him returning to the club next season.
Gagai is said to be keen to come back to Newcastle if he can't strike up a new deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Knights are in the market for a centre.
The sticking point will be money and the Knights are looking at other alternatives.
Just what effect Simi Sasagi's debut on Thursday night against the Cowboys has on the Knights' centre recruitment plans remains to be scene. While Sasagi's defensive reads need a ton of work, he had plenty of classy touches of the footy and his footwork is exciting.
Giving the 20-year-old has only played five or six games in the past three years, there is a lot to look forward to.
There may need to be some tough conversations in and around veteran playmaker Blake Green's playing future over the next few weeks, particularly if the club is successful in bringing Jake Clifford in early.
Despite working unbelievably hard to get back on the field this season following his knee reconstruction late last year, the 34-year-old Green would admit himself he is struggling with the added pace of the game.
With Phoenix Crossland showing plenty of promising signs since grabbing the No.7 jumper and Kalyn Ponga due back from injury at fullback this week for the Manly clash tomorrow week, coach O'Brien will have to decide between Green and Kurt Mann for the five-eighth spot.
Despite doubts this week about the Tszyu/Zerafa fight on July 7 in Newcastle going ahead with Zerafa in hospital with a mystery illness, we'll be stunned if we don't hear something soon about it being on as planned.
Mullen links up with Knights
After being exiled from the club for the past four years following his drug suspension, it was great to hear ex-Knights captain Jarrod Mullen caught up with the current team over dinner and drinks while they were in camp on the Sunshine Coast at Mooloolaba earlier this week.
Mullo is playing for Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Queensland Cup after returning to the game this season but he's been plagued by bad luck with a dislocated shoulder sidelining him for a second time last weekend, restricting him to just three games so far.
From all reports, he was still in really good spirits.
Mitch Barnett has been a big mover over the past two weeks in our Player of the Year standings, polling four points to be just three off the pace after 11 rounds. Daniel Saifiti has regained the lead from the injured Kalyn Ponga.
Round 10 v Tigers: 3 Mitch Barnett 2 Connor Watson 1 Daniel Saifiti.
Round 11 v Cowboys: 3 Jacob Saifiti 2 Daniel Saifiti 1 Mitch Barnett.
Current leader board:11- Daniel Saifiti 10- Kalyn Ponga. 9- Jayden Brailey. 8- Mitch Barnett. 6- Connor Watson. 5- Tyson Frizell, Bradman Best. 4- Brodie Jones. 3- Kurt Mann, Jacob Saifiti. 1- David Klemmer, Jesse Sue.
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