Dragons interested in Packer, Kasiano, Costigan
St George Illawarra are interested in ex-Warriors forward Russell Packer, Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano and ex-Queensland forward Neville Costigan, club Director of Recruitment and Retention Peter Mulholland has confirmed.
In a wide-ranging video update for members on the club's website, Mulholland went into depth explaining the reasons for the departures of players like Brett Morris, Jack Stockwell and Jack Bird, the reason for a host of controversial recruitments, and elaborated on the huge offer to keep NSW forward Trent Merrin.
Answering questions sent in from Red V members, Mulholland denied the club's salary cap was ever a mess. "Every club has its challenges... the salary cap is a fluid beast," he said, describing the club's cap position as "pretty good".
"As a change of coach comes in there's a change of structure that he wants and a change in the type of player that he wants," Mulholland said.
He confirmed the club's interest in signing former Warriors grand final prop Russell Packer, whose 2013 deal at Newcastle fell through when he was jailed for assault. Packer's recruitment would depend on the NRL agreeing to register a contract but Mulholland said the Dragons would definitely have a look at him if he became available.
"The Russell Packer story has got a long way to go, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye," Mulholland said.
"I have known him for a long, long while. I actually took him to the Knights and I have been in close contact with Russell. There is a lot more to that yet."
Mulholland confirmed the club would be interested in Bulldog Sam Kasiano and would love to have 2010 premiership-winning prop Neville Costigan back, if he became avilable, noting he is currently under contract at UK Super League outfit Hull KR.
Regarding Merrin, the offer currently in front of the Origin forward is the biggest in the merged venture's history and would make him one of the highest paid middle players in the competition, and Merrin is currently considering it, the recruitment director said. He added the club would be trying to keep current international Jason Nightingale.
Of the departure of Brett Morris, Mulholland said while it was known Brett wanted to play out his career alongside his brother Josh, he was also getting "a fullback's money" to make the move, indicating fullback is where Brett would be likely to play at Belmore.
Knights-bound forward Jack Stockwell hasn't come on as much as the club would have liked and got a good multi-year deal from Newcastle. Strong multi-year deals were also a factor in the club not being able to compete with offers for Jack Bird, Gerard Beale and Kyle Stanley, Mulholland said.
In what seemed to be a reference to former Canberra utility Joel Thompson's reported mid-2014 decision to return to the nation's capital that did not eventuate, Mulholland said "a few little issues" had been caused for the club's cap by a player asking for a release then back-flipping on the decision, but said those issues weren't insurmountable and had been blown out of proportion.
Mulholland also suggested the club's 2015 recruitment was far from finished and the salary cap would be manged to ensure the club would be in a position to move on players who became available after the 2015 season commences – noting this year's acquisition of Benji Marshall and 2013's mid-year pickup of Raider Josh Dugan as past examples that had been successful.
"Our 2015 recruitment never finishes; the club has made great mid-season recruitments in the last couple of seasons... Players fall out of the trees at different stages during the year," Mulholland said.
"That's where our salary cap management is very important, to be able to take advantage of those opportunities as they arise."
Explaining the process by which clubs move players on, Mulholland noted it often came down to succession planning.
"[A] player may be here for another 12 months but he may also be blocking the opportunity for a younger player to come through, he may also be blocking the opportunity for us to pay for a younger player that will have a longer future at our club. That's the important part for people to understand, it really is a business, the most important people at our club are our fans," he said.