NRL club’s cold feet on monster deal

There is no end in sight for Latrell Mitchell’s summer of uncertainty after reports leading suitor Wests Tigers have also developed cold feet.

In a week of turmoil for the grand final hero, the Bulldogs and Roosters both reportedly pulled contract offers to the 22-year-old last week, leaving the Wests Tigers as the reported front-runners to pull off the signing.

North Queensland and Newcastle are also reportedly considering entering the battle to sign the Kangaroos centre.

It emerged on Monday that the Tigers are now having second thoughts about a reported three-year, $3 million deal offered to Mitchell.

The rich offer comes after the Roosters pulled a reported $1.6 million, two-year deal that would have made Mitchell the highest paid centre in the game.

The Daily Telegraph now reports the Tigers board of directors is divided over Mitchell’s signing with some members “scarred” by the disastrous $8.2 million signing spree during Ivan Cleary’s tenure where the club signed Josh Reynolds, Ben Matulino and Russell Packer to mega-deals.

The panicked signings came after stars James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and Mitchell Moses all signed with rival clubs.

The memory of those botched signings are still fresh in the memory of some Tigers officials.

“The board is undoubtedly scarred by what happened three years ago,” a source close to the Wests Tigers told The Daily Telegraph.

“The club rushed into some purchases where they paid ‘overs’. The club should have completed even deeper checks in relation to fitness, health etc.

Latrell Mitchell is unlikely to ever play for the Roosters again.Source:AAP

“I’m certain the club won’t pay ‘overs’ for Latrell. There are some reservations.”

While the club wants its reported $3 million deal to be “risk free” they are already rolling the dice on whether Mitchell will be able to make the shift from centre to fullback — the only position where the star ball-runner can command such an expensive price tag.

The club is also concerned about a personality clash between Mitchell and Tigers coach Michael Maguire after Mitchell’s high-profile falling out with NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler this year which ended with him being snubbed from the Blues’ famous win in Origin III this year.

Meanwhile, former NSW captain Paul Gallen says Mitchell is gambling his future by walking away from the Roosters after enjoying early premiership success at the NRL’s best-performing club.

He said the reported extra $200,000 per-season offers from rival clubs could all be for nothing if he misses out on the $150,000 he can earn through representative selection for NSW and Australia.

SIX CLUBS INTERESTED IN DRAGONS ‘GIFTED ONE’

Zac Lomax is on the open market.Source:Supplied

Dragons rising star Zac Lomax is reportedly set to begin contract talks with up to six NRL clubs this month after officially informing the Dragons of his decision to test his value on the open market.

The star centre is contracted at the Dragons until the end of the 2020 season, but can now sign with a rival club for beyond next year.

The 20-year-old talent has long been touted as a future superstar — and was last year labelled the “gifted one” by Blues coach Brad Fittler

Lomax is reportedly pushing for a shift to fullback next season, and has been granted that wish by coach Paul McGregor.

The Daily Telegraph reports Lomax is on the open market as a possible fullback option for rival clubs.

The report claims the Wests Tigers are among the list of clubs interested in Lomax, and could even use the $1.7 million in salary cap space available for next season to sign both Latrell Mitchell and Lomax.

McGregor’s long term plans of turning Lomax into his preferred fullback would then be dashed if he signs for a rival club for the 2021 season, leading to speculation he could be allowed to leave with a full year running on his contract should he sign for a rival club.

EDDIE JONES REPORTEDLY WANTS NRL JOB

England coach Eddie Jones is the most wanted coach in rugby right now.Source:AP

England rugby coach Eddie Jones wants to coach in the NRL, and a Sydney newspaper has named the club he supposedly wants to take over.

Australian Jones went from hero to zero at the Rugby World Cup, where England’s brilliant semi-final win over the All Black was followed by a disastrous performance against the Springboks in the final.

The highly quotable Jones has become rugby’s most recognisable character, and the World Cup reversal has left plenty of conjecture over his future.

He wouldn’t be the first former Wallaby coach named Jones to head to the NRL, and the similarity doesn’t stop there.

The great 1980s coach Alan Jones — another outspoken character — became the Balmain Tigers boss and then football manager at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Long time Sydney Morning Herald columnist Danny Weidler has reported that Eddie Jones wants to coach the South Sydney Rabbitohs, where league legend Wayne Bennett currently reigns.

“The noise around Eddie Jones had him in line for the Wallabies coaching job — but the truth is there is another gig that he really covets,” he wrote.

“NRL clubs take note, Jones would like a crack at rugby league at some point in his career.

“Even though he has one of the highest-profile and highest-paying positions in world rugby, there is a part of Jones that wants to test himself. As far as tests go, taking on an NRL job is a big one.

“From what I can gather, he has told mates that taking over from Wayne Bennett when he finishes at Souths appeals. He has a soft spot for the club. It’s doubtful the Rabbitohs would be aware of his ambitions because he has only shared his league thoughts with a select few.”

Jones will have some inside information on the NRL after inviting Raiders coach Ricky Stuart into the English camp at the World Cup in Japan.

Stuart himself is an example of the long cross-code tradition in Australia. He was a schoolboy rugby star and Wallaby tourist before becoming a league standout as a player and coach.

“Eddie loves his league,” Stuart said. “The way the England team played … let’s just say that I have never seen a rugby side play so similarly to a league side.

“I don’t know if he wants to coach in the NRL. Could he do it? I have no doubt he could if that was on his radar. To transfer a coach from code to code … well they’ve never been closer, so yes, it’s doable.”

— New Zealand Herald

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