Eels meet Austin over potentially replacing Norman

Parramatta have met Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin about the potential of joining the club next season as a potential replacement for Corey Norman.

NRL.com understands Austin is being looked at as a potential replacement for Norman, however the out-of-favour Eels No.6 hasn't attracted much interest from rival clubs.

The Eels are keen to explore the idea of Austin as Mitchell Moses's halves partner for 2019, but they won't be in a position to do so until they know whether Norman will be at the club.

As it stands, the Eels are happy to release Norman from the final year of his deal and would have even allowed him to leave before the June 30 transfer deadline had he managed to find a new home.

However, clubs have baulked at his lucrative price tag, including Manly, who went cold on the notion of a Norman-Marty Taupau swap deal with the Eels.

Austin, who grew up in western Sydney as an Eels fan, isn't after a huge deal and NRL.com understands he is happy to sign a modest one-year contract and back himself to play his way into a more lucrative deal at Parramatta or another club.

A young Blake Austin on the Footy Show.
A young Blake Austin on the Footy Show. ©NRL Photos/Channel Nine

His potential signing would bring some much-needed size in the halves at the Eels - who have also been linked to Marika Koroibete - and allow Moses to become the dominant playmaker.

The Eels have also started a review of their football operations, which is likely to recommend the club brings in a head of football. NRL.com understands Cowboys football manager Peter Parr, who is also Brad Fittler's football manager for the NSW Blues this year, is the frontrunner having previously been sounded out for the role.

Storm set sights on Munster deal

After securing the services of coach Craig Bellamy for the next three years, Melbourne have turned their attention to five-eighth Cameron Munster.

After a tumultuous off-season, Munster has turned a corner and is back in the good books at the Storm, who have had preliminary discussions to extend hid deal beyond 2019.

The Storm wanted to tie him up earlier in the year, but the Queensland and Australian playmaker wouldn't commit to anything until he knew where Bellamy would be coaching beyond this year.

Now Bellamy has opted against a move to Brisbane, the Storm have identified the retention of Munster as their priority and it now seems unlikely he will depart, despite interest from the North Queensland Cowboys earlier in the year.

Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster.
Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Blues switch walk plan

The Blues didn't decide they would walk from their hotel to ANZ Stadium until the 11th hour on Sunday night. Earlier in the week, Fittler said it would be too difficult of an assignment to execute.

But the Blues coach wanted to at least give it a try. He had a bus waiting outside the team hotel to take them to the ground, but decided if the hotel wasn't swarming with fans they would walk to the stadium.

It turns out, the precinct wasn't as packed as they thought at that stage of the evening, and they walked to the nearest stadium entry. From there, the players hopped on golf carts and were driven to the dressing sheds on the other side of the ground.

Boyd Cordner, Brad Fittler and Josh Addo-Carr.
Boyd Cordner, Brad Fittler and Josh Addo-Carr. ©NRL Photos

Freddy cooks up hotel switch

Still on Fittler and the madness of his methods. The NSWRL hierarchy had to knock back a number of his requests, but this story takes the cake - Fittler didn't want his players to stay in a particular hotel because the windows didn't open and he wanted his players to have access to fresh air in the rooms.

He then wanted to stay at another hotel but didn't like the food, so he asked for the hotel with no windows to cater to the other hotel. Of course, his request was denied. Nice try, Freddy.

Mbye's gratitude attitude

New Wests Tigers recruit Moses Mbye has spoken about the difficulty of walking away on his Canterbury teammates mid-season.

Leading into his debut for his new club at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, he admitted he felt like he owed it to them to help them in their quest for finals football.

He originally didn't want to leave the Bulldogs until the end of the year out of loyalty to his teammates, but it became clear it was in the interest of both clubs and himself to depart early.

"Obviously, I originally signed with the Tigers for 2019 and beyond, that was what I wanted at the time – to see out the year at the Dogs,” he told NRL.com.

"I think that probably contributed to my decision to leave early, given that I was going to the Tigers next year it's hard to dedicate yourself 100% and commit to the side and put your body on the line for the side knowing that you're not going to be playing there next year. I think that kind of played a role.

"And the opportunity to come over early, I felt like I owed it to the Tigers in signing me for such a long term and putting their faith in me."

Wests Tigers fullback Moses Mbye.
Wests Tigers fullback Moses Mbye. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

What's doing with RCG on WhatsApp

Within hours of the NSW Blues naming their team for game two, injured prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard received a WhatsApp message notifying him that he had been removed from the team chat group by Blues officials.

He was joking around with Blues staffers about the harshness of it during the week. He was still part of team celebrations in the sheds on Sunday night, but you couldn't help but notice how different he looked. The moustache removal required for surgery wasn't the only difference. He has lost a heap of weight as a result of a liquid-based diet required post-surgery on his broken jaw.

Risky business flying back from Denver

There's a reason why the New Zealand Test team had to fly back on separate flights from the United States after their original flight was cancelled because of a lightning storm. Under the agreement reached with the clubs and the NRL for the Denver Test against England, all players had to fly back in business class so with no plane able to cater for all players up front, that's why they returned to their clubs in dribs and drabs over the past 48 hours.

Rejig for representative calendar

Plans are still in the pipeline for Australia to play Tonga in a Test at the end of the year. Australia will play New Zealand in Auckland on October 13, with a Test against Tonga being considered for October 20. Darwin, Canberra, Newcastle and Sydney have been spoken about as potential locations for what would be a mouth-watering showdown between the two nations.

The success of the Pacific Test between Tonga and Samoa last weekend is likely to see the match outgrow Campbelltown Sports Stadium. It has been floated that next year's match could be played at the new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta with a likely sell-out crowd of 30,000.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.