Parramatta have been informed that South Sydney prop George Burgess won’t be taking up a three-year offer to join the Eels this season.
As reported earlier on Wednesday by NRL.com, the Eels reopened negotiations with Burgess this week despite the Englishman knocking back the original offer last month.
However his management informed Parramatta on Wednesday afternoon that he would be remaining at the Rabbitohs.
South Sydney issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon to confirm Burgess would be remaining at the club for the remainder of his contract, which ends after the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.
It is understood Burgess’s preference was always to remain at the Rabbitohs with his brothers Sam and Thomas, however he hasn’t been guaranteed a contract beyond the end of this season.
The Eels were willing to pay his full contract for the remainder of this season (believed to be around $400,000) and also offered him a two-year deal on top of that worth around $700,000 a season in a bid to get him at the club until the end of 2021.
Parramatta are desperate to add some size to their pack, and had identified Burgess as a potential starting prop alongside new recruit Junior Paulo.
Cook: It's going to be a special event
Those closest to Burgess had been encouraging him to take the deal on the table, with no guarantee of a contract of such value to come around in the next 12 months and also the Eels would have likely moved on to their next target.
However, new Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett wanted him part of his plans this year.
As of Tuesday night, Burgess’s manager Chris Caisley - who is based in the United Kingdom - was in close dialogue with Eels officials about the move.
But discussions came to a halt on Wednesday when the Eels were informed that Burgess would remain at South Sydney.
His decision to stay at Redfern will increase the chances of winger Robert Jennings being squeezed out of Souths due to salary cap pressures with the Wests Tigers the favourites to land his signature.
Gutherson knocks back Eels deal
The Eels offered a contract extension to skipper Clint Gutherson late last year, however the Eels fullback declined to sign.
There’s a suggestion he is waiting to see what will happen with coach Brad Arthur and who takes his place should he not have his contract extended beyond this year.
Gutherson also believes he is worth more than what the Eels put on the table. It’s no secret Gutherson wasn’t at his best in 2018 coming off a second ACL injury, however the fullback has backed himself to rediscover his best form and in turn demand more than he would have if he signed the extension last year.
He is happy at the club, with both parties keen for the deal to be done. It’s just a matter of working out just how much that contract is worth.
Rabbitohs get in bed with Roosters
South Sydney have aligned themselves with their sworn enemies, the Sydney Roosters, backing calls from Trent Robinson wants the next 20 years of the World Club Challenge locked in.
The WCC has somewhat been deemed as an afterthought in the NRL for several years, however there is a view from some clubs that the match is as crucial to global expansion as Test football.
Rabbitohs general manager of football Shane Richardson has backed calls from Robinson to come up with a 20-year plan, adamant the concept was important to the future of the sport.
Match Highlights: Wigan Warriors v Sydney Roosters
"I agree with the comments Robinson made," Richardson told NRL.com.
"We have to look this and make it a major part of our schedule and fabric and build on it. The reality is it’s a fantastic opportunity for clubs in the Super League and NRL to grow the brands of their clubs. We’ve taken a game to Jacksonville, we’ve been to Cairns and Perth and we tried to get a game in Los Angeles this year.
"I’m hugely supportive of what Robinson said. We should also be looking at a World Nines for clubs as well – not just international nines. We have a great ability to spread the love there and it’s the biggest advantage we have over AFL is we have international football. We need to do everything we can to expand the game and the clubs are a major brand."
Maori not happy with Square snub
The All Stars week was a resounding success, with both teams doing their part to inspire the next generation of New Zealand Maori and Australian Indigenous people. However there was one incident that upset some members of the New Zealand Maori side, who were disappointed when the Indigenous team walked off at the official jersey presentation in Federation Square on the eve of the match.
The Indigenous side left after receiving their jerseys and didn’t hang around for the traditional Maori performances and jersey presentation. It didn’t go down well with some members of the opposition.
Match Highlights: Indigenous All Stars v NZ Maori All Stars
Kahu could turn to rugby
Jordan Kahu’s one-year deal with the Cowboys is a stop-gap solution. Kahu, who is likely to explore the potential of switching codes to rugby union at the end of the year, will fill the role vacated by Ben Barba’s exit.
But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys have given up hope of Valentine Holmes coming to the club as early as this year. Holmes will take part in an NFL combine next month, testing himself against some of the best aspiring NFL players in the United States.
From there any of the 32 clubs will be able to express interest in signing him, however there is a chance he is unable to land a spot on a franchise roster. If he wants to return to the NRL in 2019 he has a contract with Cronulla stipulating he must return to the Sharks.
Given the NRL’s investigation into the club’s salary cap, and the fact they’ve since signed Shaun Johnson, it’s unlikely Holmes could return to the Sutherland Shire.
Cronulla have already indicated they would entertain the idea of allowing him to join another club. The Cowboys are holding out hope that happens sooner rather than later. They are willing to part ways with the likes of Ethan Lowe, which will free up some cap space to accommodate Holmes’ potential arrival.
Sharks won't shed Shaun from Shire
There are a few clubs sniffing around Cronulla in the hope they may have to shed a player as a result of the NRL’s salary cap investigation. Don’t expect Shaun Johnson to hit the open market, but there are a number of clubs keeping a close watch on what happens.
The Sharks have a world-class pack so don’t be surprised if it’s a forward who is moved along should they need to shed players. If the Sharks are handed a significant breach, the NRL rules state the last player signed is unable to play if they are over the cap. The last player Cronulla signed was Johnson.
Seibold focused on uniting factions
New Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold has moved to unite the factions that have formed around the club over the past 12 months, meeting with several former Broncos players in the past few weeks.
As a result of the coaching saga involving Wayne Bennett, and also some angst from some as a result of Kevin Walters missing out on the top job, Seibold walked into a rather fractured environment.
Seibold has taken a proactive approach and has sought out a number of key figures around the club to ensure the outside noise doesn’t destabilise his tenure as Brisbane coach.
Why Broncos suspended Payne Haas
He doesn’t see any reason why those who support Bennett shouldn’t back the club under his watch.
Seibold has also brought back Corey Parker after his sudden mid-season exit last year in a consultancy role to work with the forwards once a week during the pre-season. Seibold also went out to dinner with a group of ex-players - which included Allan Langer, Trevor Gillmeister and Gavin Allen, and founding CEO John Ribot.
The Brisbane Broncos' Old Boys organisation is in the process of finalising its new committee and it is understood Chris Johns is putting his hand up to be chair and spokesperson.
Johns had been critical of Broncos chief executive Paul White and the appointment of Seibold over Walters, however he has since publicly thrown his support behind the former Rabbitohs mentor.
White isn’t going anywhere. The board are quite happy with the situation the club is in but it will no doubt make for interesting theatre in Brisbane if things don’t go to script.
The Foxx bulks up
Josh Addo-Carr didn’t look to have lost any speed over the off-season judging by his performance last Friday night. However it will be interesting to see the full impact of an intense off-season. Addo-Carr has put on eight kilograms since last year.
Hunt's hammy causes rethink
Sione Mata’utia will play in the centres against the Dragons in this weekend’s trial at Kogarah. It comes after Hymel Hunt injured his hamstring at training. Hunt was locked in to start the season in the centres for the Knights however the injury could force coach Nathan Brown to change his tactics for the opening game of the season against the Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday, March 15.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.