The game’s new big spenders – Wests Tigers – are set to gazump Newcastle to sign classy Roosters rookie Connor Watson for next season.
The Knights have been quietly confident for weeks that they had Watson under lock and key with a handsome $350,000 a season offer for three years.
But the Tigers have jumped in with a late bid worth close to $600,000 a year – a stunning amount for a kid with less than 30 NRL games to his name.
With Mitchell Moses leaving the club recently and new boy Tui Lolohea out of his depth at five-eighth, the Tigers see Watson as the man to fill the key number six jumper.
The Roosters want to keep the classy 21-year-old, man of the tournament at this year’s Auckland Nines, but his path to a halves spot at the club is blocked by established stars Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary and they will reluctantly let him go.
Tensions rise between Maloney and Sharks
Tension is rising between the Sharks and match-winning five-eighth James Maloney.
Cronulla believes five-eighth James Maloney’s ongoing contract talks are proving a distraction for the club. (AAP)
The Blues star is only halfway through a three year deal but has been holding open negotiations with rival clubs for months – and club officials believe it has been having a destabilising effect.
Maloney’s form is also of concern – all his key stats are down on his brilliant season in 2016 and he was very poor in the loss to Manly last weekend.
Penrith to keep boom back-rower
In-demand back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera has knocked back an approach from the Warriors and is set to sign a new deal at Penrith.
A strong candidate for rookie of the year honours, Harawira-Naera was born in New Zealand and the Warriors had high hopes of luring the 22-year-old wide runner back home.
Several other clubs were also keen on Harawira-Naera but the tall back-rower has all but agreed to new terms with the Panthers.
Harawira-Naera scored a try on debut against the Knights in round four and is improving with every game.
Williams to return to Canberra
Don’t be surprised if journeyman halfback Sam Williams makes a return to Canberra for a third stint with the Raiders next season.
Williams is currently at English club Wakefield but is likely to be on the move again next season.
The 26-year-old playmaker could be a handy back-up for Raiders halves Aiden Sezer and Blake Austin and could apply pressure to the pair after the club’s disappointing performances this season.
A Cooma junior, Williams began his career with the Raiders in 2011-13 before moves to the Dragons and Catalans in France.
He then returned to the Raiders in 2015-16 before moving to Wakefield this year.