25 Sep 2020 5:22 PM +00:00

NRL Rumour Mill: Representative round edition

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Eels struggling to keep French

The window for Bevan French to begin negotiations with rival clubs is fast-approaching and word around the Parramatta camp is the Eels are facing an uphill battle to keep the backline flyer at the club.

French can begin talking to other clubs on November 1 and an unfulfilled promise from Brad Arthur that French would be the club's fullback appears to be the major sticking point in French staying put.

Rival clubs including the Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans and Melbourne Storm are rumoured to be monitoring the situation and would all be in a position to work the attacking weapon into their backline.

With Billy Slater expected to retire at the end of the season, a prime gig playing fullback for the perennially contending Melbourne Storm could be enough to tempt French away from Parramatta.

Sea Eagles chase backline talent

There's little surprise that Manly are being linked with much of the backline talent coming off-contract given the lack of depth at the club this season.


Coach Trent Barrett has reportedly told the club's recruitment team that firepower on the wings is a must when they begin approaching new signings from here on out.

So far, the Sea Eagles have been linked with Cronulla pair Edrick Lee and Sosaia Feki, Brisbane's Corey Oates and Gold Coast fan favourite Anthony Don. Feki is not off-contract but has dropped done the pecking order at Southern Cross Group Stadium and could be a contender for a release from his contract.

Anthony Don has long been an under-rated star on the glitter strip and would command decent coin should he test himself on the open market, something which may rule the cap-restricted Sea Eagles out of the running.

Simona and the Panthers

With talk that the Panthers were interested in bringing disgraced former Tiger's star Tim Simona to the club, social media was ablaze with outrage at the thought of a man who scammed charity and bet on matches returning to the code.

Simona was placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond after taking money raised from the sale of jerseys and match-worn paraphernalia and gambling much of it away rather than give it to a children's charity while he was also found guilty of betting on games, including bets lodged on opposition players and teams scoring.

Shortly after, Penrith supremo Phil Gould came out in response, suggesting his proposal to the NRL for Simona was an off-field role where he would act as a welfare officer. The role would likely include talking to kids and young players about his experiences.

Famed for his belief in second chances, there's no substance to the thought that Gould would want to see Simona on the field for the Panthers in the short to mid-term. Long-term, however, remains a mystery.

Hook Hook, again?


Speaking of Penrith, I'm reliably informed by people within the club that rumours Anthony Griffin has lost the dressing room are complete rubbish.

Penrith sit amongst the top three or four clubs in the league right now and were one of the form teams in the competition before last week's loss to the Roosters and, from what I hear, the harmony in the squad is as good as ever.

Griffin isn't a charismatic man or a top-shelf orator, and he does put some people off with his amiable public persona, but make no mistake, he's well-respected and a tough competitor.

Knights wading into the market

The Knights had a tremendous start to 2018 but have been savaged by injuries over the last month or so, leading coach Nathan Brown to look into the player market for reinforcements.

Co-captain Jamie Buhrer became the latest high-profile injury when he tore his ACL during the club's loss to the Roosters, joining the likes of Tautau Moga (ACL), Mitchell Pearce (pectoral), Daniel Saifiti (foot), Nathan Ross (groin) and Jacob Saifiti (shoulder) in the injury ward.

While Brown ruled out a move for Bulldogs forward Aaron Woods, players like Suaia Matagi, Lewis Brown, Shaun Fensom and Jack Hetherington have all been mentioned behind closed doors.

Penrith would be reluctant to let young firebrand Jack Hetherington move while the Eels are believed to be at peace with Matagi moving on if he were to get a better deal.

Which rumours have interested you the most this week? Let us know in the comments below.

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