Norman meets Brennan about Titans switch but must shed bad boy reputation

We've all heard about Corey Norman's bad-boy reputation.

"She's a bit out of control what everyone thinks about me," Norman says.

Unfortunately for the Parramatta five-eighth, that well-documented troubled past continues to haunt him despite his best efforts to turn his career around.

Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan is willing to give him a chance and met Norman three weeks ago.

As it stands, Norman knows he's unwanted at Parramatta. He's been tapped on the shoulder that hard he may need a reconstruction to repair it.

"That's what happens when you're sitting last on the table," he told NRL.com.

"It's well known they don't want me here and that's just part of rugby league. If you can't handle it you shouldn't be in it. Sometimes you just have to man up and move on."

The problem for Norman is he is struggling to move on.

Parramatta are last. His value is dropping by the day and most clubs are assuming Parramatta's disinterest in him is a result of off-field issues. That's not the case.

Norman is simply just the high-profile casualty of the train-wreck that is Parramatta's 2018 campaign.

He is on a deal worth close to $900,000 for next season and given his form and history, clubs are baulking at taking on such a big deal.

On a trip to the Gold Coast during Parramatta's bye round at the start of July, Norman visited his mother at Runaway Bay.

He also caught up with his former Eels teammate, Titans hooker Nathan Peats at Burleigh Heads. It's there a meeting with Brennan was organised.

They spoke about life, footy and what it is Brennan is trying to achieve at the Titans.

The Gold Coast coach is keen to sign him but it isn't his decision alone. Under the new Darryl Kelly/Rebecca Frizelle regime, those sorts of decisions are decided by a committee.

That committee includes Brennan, Kelly, chief executive Graham Annesley, head of football Phil Moss and football manager Anthony Laffranchi.

The committee wants to make sure Norman wants to come for the right reasons. They want players who want to play there, not players with no other choice. They are also a bit gun-shy given the outcome of the punt on Bryce Cartwright, who was relegated to Intrust Super Cup mid-season due to poor form.

The Titans have concerns Norman's behaviour doesn't fit into what they are trying to build. But Norman insists that's not the case.

"A lot of people who don't know me just lean on my reputation," he said.

"That's what it is sometimes. That's what happens if you have a bad reputation. People assume they know you. That was several years ago now and I've worked hard and learnt from past experiences.

"I believe I've grown. The people who know me, I know they have respect for me. I think I'm settled. I'm miles ahead of where I was three years ago."

The Titans would use Norman in the halves alongside Ash Taylor, which would likely mean AJ Brimson would shift to fullback where Brennan has previously indicated he will end up. 

How much the Titans are willing to pay for Norman and what the Eels will contribute hasn't been discussed. That'll likely take place after the season, where it is expected Norman will get the chance to convince the committee in person that he is worth taking a chance on.

There's no doubt he has the ability. It was only 12 months ago most were tipping him as the next in line to take over from Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk in the Maroons side.

Things haven't panned out that way, but there's a belief in Queensland that returning to his home state will be the trigger that helps him rediscover the form that once had the Eels fighting desperately to keep him.

French could exit Eels as soon as this year

Bevan French has told NewsCorp he was open to moving to another club at the end of 2019, but NRL.com understands it's far more imminent than that.

French conceded his place at the club beyond this year was up for discussion.

"The main thing me and my manager spoke about was finishing up this year and see where we end up then," French said.

"A couple of clubs have contacted [my manager]. But he's being smart and fair in the way he's told me and them to focus on this year first before I start looking at anything else.

"It's not like I don't like it here at all. They've taught me a lot and I'm still learning a lot off a lot of players we have here. There's only a handful of games left so when that finishes up I'll look at it."

Parramatta star Bevan French.
Parramatta star Bevan French. ©NRL Photos

It's understood French is one of several squad members the Eels have identified as players who can move on at the end of the season.

Blake Ferguson is coming to the club and the Eels also have a big opinion of youngster Greg Leleisiuao.

"I think anyone would be filthy because no one wants to get the tap on the shoulder, but in saying that I haven't been in the best form," French said.

"I guess I would be disappointed if it came to that but if it did happen I've got no one to blame but myself.

"As a player you should be able to put yourself in a position where they don't want to do those things. At the moment I fully understand it. You can't blame others if that happens."

Latrell well placed after try spree

The irresistible form of Latrell Mitchell is placing enormous pressure on Will Chambers to retain his position in the Kangaroos side at the end of the year.

It's safe to assume Greg Inglis will be the first centre picked but Chambers's stranglehold on the other position is in jeopardy given Mitchell's recent red-hot form during the State of Origin series and for the Roosters.

Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell.
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"It's such a competitive environment – he's pushing hard the way he's playing," Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga told NRL.com.

"It has put the cat amongst the pigeons. And I don't think we will be averse to picking guys out of normal spots as well."

There are two backline positions you can consider all but locked in barring injury – Inglis as one centre and James Tedesco as fullback.

Good luck trying to fit Mitchell, Chambers, Josh Addo-Carr, Valentine Holmes, Tom Trbojevic and Dane Gagai into three positions.

Unsurprisingly Damien Cook is the frontrunner to replace Cameron Smith at hooker, while Nathan Cleary and James Maloney could fight it out to partner Cameron Munster in the halves.

A Prime Minister's XIII will play in Papua New Guinea the week after the grand final instead of the week before the decider this year, and the Kangaroos will then head to Auckland for a Test against New Zealand the following weekend.

The Tonga Test that was a possibility of being played in New York is still being considered but it's now extremely unlikely it will be played in the Big Apple.

Keary gets radical for recovery

Sydney Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary will receive multiple PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections over the next fortnight into his knee to aid recovery from his medial ligament injury that is expected to sideline him for up to a month. The treatment will involve Keary's own blood being injected into his knee.

Luke Keary undergoes tests on his knee in the Dragons match.
Luke Keary undergoes tests on his knee in the Dragons match. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Benji granted personal leave

Benji Marshall was given time off from Wests Tigers training this week to return to New Zealand to be with his ill grandfather, who played a huge part in raising Marshall. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marshall family.

Origin stars feel they're over-exposed 

Brad Fittler was a breath of fresh air during this year's State of Origin camp. His decision to open the players to media commitments almost every day provided the fans with great access and insight into the camp. However, there has been a spin-off effect. Some clubs have noticed a slight change in attitude of their stars towards their media responsibilities since returning from NSW duty, somewhat worn out by it all.

 

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