1 Busy man
As reported by a number of outlets, including The Mole, the agent of Newcastle Knights prodigy Gavin Orr might be one of the busiest men in rugby league over the next few weeks.
While players and coaches are busy preparing for another big season, Orr is fielding offers from a number of clubs in relation to prying the young five-eighth away from the Hunter at the end of his current deal.
As things stand, Lamb will be on the open market in time for the 2019 season and clubs like the Sea Eagles, who are desperate for a quality halves partner for Daly Cherry-Evans, Broncos and even the Melbourne Storm have shown some interest.
Newcastle too are interested in keeping young Lamb at the club despite having Connor Watson and Mitchell Pearce also dueling for gigs in the halves.
2 Sauce on the market as well
Another star with a contract fast nearing its end, Penrith Panther’s winger Josh Mansour could be one of the hottest properties in the game should he decide to entertain offers from the Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters or Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, who have all expressed an interest in the Kangaroos winger.
While the Bulldogs would be forced into some serious salary cap manoeuvring in order to bring Mansour to the club, it is believed they’ve looked into what could be done while the Roosters and Eels have both been considered long-time admirers of Mansour and could be in position to drag him away from the foot of the mountains.
For their part, insiders at the Panthers remain confident that the departure of other players over recent weeks should put them in position to retain Mansour as well as halfback Nathan Cleary long-term.
3 Gus and Hook on different wavelengths
While the Lurker has been notoriously off the mark many times in the past, there does seem to be some persistence in his report that Penrith supremo Phil Gould and head coach Anthony Griffin don’t see eye to eye.
Suggestions that Gus gave Griffin an almighty spray during last week’s shock loss to Canterbury could be construed as either motivation for the coach or signs of tensions between the two reaching boiling point.
Naturally losing a trial game means little in the grand scheme of things, but until wins are on the board for real, it’s unlikely any speculation about a rift between Gould and Griffin will go away.
4 Reni’s back in action
Former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs star Reni Maitua will be strapping on the boots again in 2018 after agreeing to a deal with the Toronto Wolfpack.
Maitua had been retired and undertaking a boxing career but has been lured back to the game in the wake of the Wolfpack losing big-name recruits Dave Taylor, Fuifui Moi Moi and Ryan Bailey over an off-field incident.
When speaking to the club’s official website, Maitua confirmed the deal and that he had been wondering if he’d retired prematurely before accepting the deal.
Maitua also alluded to being around seven kilograms lighter than when he last played rugby league, putting him in fine fettle ahead of what will be a tough campaign for Toronto.
5 James the ideal candidate to lead new-look Titans
The Gold Coast Titans have confirmed that Ryan James has been handed the honour and responsibility of being club captain for the 2018 season.
James was a co-captain at the club last season but has been handed the reins completely by first-time head coach Garth Brennan ahead of the new campaign.
The local boy has been a standout performer for the Titans for a number of years and has been well received amongst fans of the club across social media in the wake of the announcement.
In a statement on the club’s website, Brennan said James was a “genuine leader.”
“He’s a local, he’s experienced, he’s passionate, he’s community-minded and he’s someone that the group look up to. That’s what we want and I know he is more than capable in the role.”
6 Hayne happy to be home
He was once thought of as the prodigal son out Parramatta way and while there may have been more controversy around his return than he would have liked, Jarryd Hayne is happy to be back home at the Eels for 2018.
Hayne put together a 60-minute performance in his first trial run of the season last week, playing the first half in the centres before switching to the fullback role in the second stanza. He set up a try for young sensation Bevan French and looked pretty well on the pace for much of the evening.
While Hayne might feel at home back at the Eels, doubts over how Brad Arthur will wedge the former New South Wales star into a backline already boasting French, Clint Gutherson and others remain.
Fitness concerns will also linger over the former San Francisco 49ers star until he puts together consistent game-time in the regular season.
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