UNLUCKY FOR SOME… The arrival of former Kiwi internationals Krisnan Inu and now Sam Perrett at Canterbury spells bad news for a number of the club’s off-contract players, with Bryson Goodwin and Luke MacDougall among those tipped to make way at the end of the year.
An injury crisis out wide this season has prompted the Bulldogs to act quickly to plug the gaps with Inu making a mid-season switch from the Warriors last month and Perrett set to join him in the coming days after being granted an immediate (although belatedly so) release by the Sydney Roosters.
But their arrival has also created further headaches for the Bulldogs who have yet to re-sign Goodwin, MacDougall or fellow backs Steve Turner, Jonathan Wright or Mitch Brown.
David Stagg, Kris Keating, Dene Halatau and Joel Romelo are also off contract.
Negotiations to renew Turner’s contract beyond this season are well advanced, with an agreement expected to be reached within the coming fortnight.
However, Goodwin – who is set to return from a ruptured spleen in the coming weeks – won’t be offered the same accelerated security, with manager Sam Ayoub believed to be actively shopping him around to rival clubs.
MacDougall’s best hope of being retained is on a similar second-tier contract to the one he is currently on, but even that isn’t guaranteed as the Bulldogs look to make room for the arrival of Tony Williams, Inu and Perrett.
Asked about the Bulldogs’ off-contract players, CEO Todd Greenburg refused to go into specifics but told NRL.com that: “It’s fair to say that we’re not going to be able to keep them all.
“The maintaining of a club’s salary cap is always a difficult process, both for retention and recruitment.
“All clubs would like to keep all of their players on roster but it is difficult while you are trying to attract new players to retain all of your current ones. That’s the challenge for everyone at this time of year.”
TRIO’S ANXIOUS WAIT… All eyes will be on player agents David Riolo, Isaac Moses and George Mimis next week when they find out whether or not their appeals against a six-month ban for their roles in the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal has been successful.
The three leading player agents were initially handed the ban in April following an investigation that lasted almost two years, but have had a stay of execution since appealing the decision.
They are expected to learn their fates on Monday.
However, it will be interesting to see whether or not the departure of former NRL boss David Gallop has any impact on the ruling given that he was at the heart of the action brought against them.
Either way, even if they are forced to serve out their suspensions it will have little impact on their players.
Despite players being legally able to break their contracts if their agent is suspended, both Titan Management, which is run by Riolo and Moses, and Mimis’ SFX have a number of accredited agents employed who will fill their shoes if needed.
EX-BLUES FACE OFF… Having produced a remarkable comeback from 14-0 down to upset Wests Tigers last Monday, Newcastle are suddenly thinking finals football again.
Despite still sitting four points outside the top eight, Knights prop Kade Snowden believes their confidence-building 38-20 win over the Tigers was the perfect tonic for what has so far been an underwhelming season, with this week’s clash with Parramatta an opportunity to finally gain some momentum.
“It all starts from here for us if we want to make the semis,” Snowden told NRL.com. “We’ve got to keep working on our game and getting better. I thought Monday night was the perfect way to start that.
“We need to win I think seven out of our last 10 to make the eight and with the teams we’ve got it’s doable, easily. We’ve just got to keep working on what we’ve been doing.”
Only a week ago the prospect of this Knights-Eels clash was anything but mouth-watering, however with both teams scoring much-needed wins last start, they both find themselves with a lot more to play for.
And while star fullbacks Darius Boyd and Jarryd Hayne are on State of Origin duty, there remains an interesting aside up front with all four starting front-rowers – Snowden and Willie Mason for Newcastle and Tim Mannah and Justin Poore for the Eels – having previously played for NSW.
Snowden and Mannah have been notable absentees from this year’s squad after representing the Blues in 2011 but the Knights prop said he was finally starting to find his best form since returning home to Newcastle this season.
“Last week was probably one of my best games this year but there are still a lot of things I need to work on. That’s probably the case for a lot of people but at least I’m going in the right direction,” he said.
“We’ve been working hard at training. Me and [Willie Mason] just keep talking. Every week we’re getting better and better as a forward pack.”
HINDY NOT RUNNING ON EMPTY… Parramatta captain Nathan Hindmarsh has promised to carry the football more often over the remaining 10 rounds of the regular season after inspiring the Eels to their comeback win over Penrith.
Hindmarsh ran for 199 metres and produced six offloads – including a crucial pass that led to Jarryd Hayne’s match-levelling try late in the second half – but rather than turning back the clock, the 32-year-old said it was simply a case of changing the focus of his work.
“My support plays were down which means I was actually carrying the ball a bit more,” Hindmarsh said. “Usually my support plays are up through the roof, helping out the front-rowers. I kind of left them by themselves and thought I’d carry the ball myself which is something I need to do a bit more of.
“I think if you look at the other boys’ stats, they got through a lot of the defensive work, and that helped me out too.”
While Hindmarsh is preparing to pull the curtain on his remarkable 320-game career, he admitted it was pleasing to hear his name mentioned last week as a potential bolter for State of Origin III following the knee injury to Blues back-rower Glenn Stewart (Tony Williams and Beau Scott were eventually called into the side instead).
“I think it was just the Parra fans that were pushing for that but it was nice to hear,” he said. “But I know that I’ve had my crack and there are plenty of good players out there that deserve their spot ahead of me. It would have been a nice little fairytale to go out there and win Origin and call it quits, but no.”
The Eels have finally shown some much-needed signs of life in recent weeks, with wins over Cronulla and Penrith in their past three outings and the chance to pull themselves back into finals contention should they down Newcastle tomorrow night.
Bizarrely, Parramatta have earned themselves the title of comeback kings this season, having hauled back significant deficits on at least four separate occasions (including a 31-30 loss to Wests Tigers after trailing 31-0 late in the game), but Hindmarsh rejected suggestions the Eels were at their best when throwing caution to the wind.
“It hasn’t been a case of playing a different style when we’re behind or anything like that,” he said. “Against Wests Tigers yes but the other games no… in the other games it was just that we stuck to the game plan.
“In the game against Cronulla (Parramatta won 29-20 after trailing 20-6 at half-time) we played the same style the whole way through, it’s just that we wore them down in the second half, which created opportunities for us.”