Spectre of Bennett may haunt Broncos for years

AHEAD of his return to Brisbane for the Friday night grudge match at Suncorp Stadium, South Sydney coach Wayne Bennetthas not ruled out suing the Broncos.

Bennett sent a legal demand to the Broncos last December, seeking a further $400,000 payout from the club in the wake of his bitter sacking after six months of in-fighting with Brisbane management.

Bennett's Broncos contract was multi-faceted, with the super coach given $385,000 related to his image rights.

But the super coach is seeking an additional component related to his coaching, which Brisbane believe he forfeited by allegedly breaching a number of conditions related to his employment contract.

 

Wayne Bennett has a six-year window to escalate his matter with the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Wayne Bennett has a six-year window to escalate his matter with the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Since receiving a legal letter last December, the Broncos have heard nothing more. But Blindside understands the matter is not dead yet.

Bennett has a six-year period to escalate the matter, giving him plenty of time to launch legal action and attempt to recoup any money he believes he is owed.

FUTURE MAROON OFFERED $3M TO SWITCH CLUBS

Queensland Origin under-20s star Tino Fa'asuamaleaui has fielded a massive $3 million offer from the Warriors as Melbourne face a big-money poaching threat to keep the former Broncos young gun.

Blindside can reveal 19-year-old Fa'asuamaleaui, likened in playing style to All Blacks sensation Sonny Bill Williams, stands to join Broncos hulk Payne Haas as one of the highest-paid teenagers in the NRL.

The Warriors, having missed out on Broncos prop Matt Lodge, are cashed-up and ready to go hard for the 115kg back-rower. They have discussed a five-year deal worth $600,000 a season, putting enormous pressure on the Storm to retain Fa'asuamaleaui given their salary-cap constraints.

It is understood the Titans have also expressed interest in the Gympie product, who made his NRL debut against the Dragons in Round 16 and has since played four first-grade games.

Fa'asuamaleaui was in Brisbane's junior ranks with Haas but the Broncos could only afford to keep one and opted for Haas, with Melbourne pouncing to lure the talented young Maroon south in 2017.

Fa’asuamaleaui towers over his Blues opponents during an U18 game last year. Picture: Adam Head
Fa’asuamaleaui towers over his Blues opponents during an U18 game last year. Picture: Adam Head

The ball-playing back-rower is off-contract at the end of next year and is happy at Melbourne, who are keen to extend Fa'asuamaleaui's deal, but if the decision comes down to money alone, the Storm can't compete with the Warriors.

What the Storm can offer is priceless - the best coaching system in the game under Craig Bellamy and a team of quality senior players headlined by Cameron Smith and Jesse Bromwich, who has been mentoring Fa'asuamaleaui.

Underlining his talent, Fa'asuamaleaui has been a member of Queensland's under-20s side for the past two campaigns and is being groomed by Maroons coach Kevin Walters to eventually play in the senior Origin team.

During Queensland under-20s camp in July, Fa'asuamaleaui told the QRL website he learned a valuable lesson of the Storm's standards after copping a spray from Bellamy last year.

 

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"When I first got to the club I missed my physio appointment. That wasn't too nice, but never again," he recalled.

"It was the team meeting room and Bellamy walked in and he is like 'where's Tino?' He is yelling, and I looked to my right because I was sitting next to 'Smithy' and Billy Slater.

"They were laughing with little giggles because they knew what had happened, but I was thinking, 'Oh no, here we go'. I copped a big spray, but that was the one and only.

"Melbourne mean everything to me, they have been like family down here."

 

 

 

 

TAKE NOTE, FELLAS

THE simmering tensions between Broncos coach Anthony Seibold and Souths rival Wayne Bennett are palpable.

When Bennett arrived at Redfern this year, he was stunned to walk into team meetings to find every player holding a notebook and pen.

"What's going on here?" Bennett asked the group.

The players suggested it was a Seibold requirement to bring notebooks to team meetings to take notes on game plans and opposition tactics. Bennett promptly ordered the group to throw the notebook away.

"Bring them if you want, but we aren't at university," Bennett added.

 

Storm coach Craig Bellamy is backing a push for Queensland to host the 2021 grand final.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy is backing a push for Queensland to host the 2021 grand final.

 

BELLAMY BACKS QLD FINAL

STORM coach Craig Bellamy has thrown his support behind the Queensland government's push to bring the NRL grand final to Suncorp Stadium in 2021.

The NRL remains in talks with the NSW government following revelations there will be delays to the reconstruction of ANZ Stadium, forcing the governing body to look for alternative grand final venues for 2021.

The SCG will host the 2020 decider, with a rebuilt Allianz Stadium expected to receive the 2022 grand final before the reopening of ANZ in 2023.

But the 2021 NRL grand final remains up for grabs. If anyone is a qualified judge, it is Bellamy.

 

 

His Melbourne club has featured in eight grand finals in the past 13 years. He believes the 52,000 capacity Suncorp Stadium is the perfect venue for the 2021 decider.

"We'd like to come up a bit more often to Brisbane," Bellamy said.

"It (Suncorp) seems to be a ground that our players really enjoy playing on, we have some good Queenslanders in our team. That's the state where we recruit from - our big four (Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis) are all Queenslanders.

"We have that connection to the state as well. We would certainly support any decisions to have a grand final at Suncorp without a doubt, but the big thing for us is getting into the grand final first."

 

 

COLE FIGHTS BACK FROM ATTACK

IN a week where the code was rocked by the terrible news Cowboys prop Matt Scott had suffered a mild stroke, a leading Intrust Super Cup referee has bravely fought back from a heart attack.

In one of rugby league's most inspirational stories of the year, Jarrod Cole has made a full recovery from a heart attack and soldiered on to celebrate his 100th ISC game in the round 20 clash between Mackay and Sunshine Coast.

A two-time Intrust Super Cup grand-final referee, Cole's story is remarkable.

During the pre-season, just three weeks before his wedding, he suffered a serious heart attack. He was just 26 years old. By a slice of good fortune, Cole was working as a physiotherapist inside John Flynn Hospital when he collapsed, enabling him to get immediate treatment.

At the time, Cole had officiated in 92 ISC games, but has shown great spirit to fight his way back and add eight more games this season to bring up a well-earned century.

 

Jesse Ramien looks likelt to stay in New South Wales. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
Jesse Ramien looks likelt to stay in New South Wales. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman

 

COWBOYS LOSING BATTLE FOR RAMIEN

NORTH Queensland's hopes of securing unwanted Newcastle centre Jesse Ramien are fading. Blindside understands Ramien's preference is to move to Sydney to be closer to his young daughter, which brings Canterbury and his former club the Sharks right into the frame.

The Cowboys have expressed interest and Ramien was highly impressed with the North Queensland set-up when he flew north last week for a tour of the club.

But the trip rammed home just how far Ramien would be from his young daughter if he moved full-time to Townsville.

He will finalise his future early next week.

 

Brisbane Broncos young gun Sean O’Sullivan is on the Cowboys radar. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Brisbane Broncos young gun Sean O’Sullivan is on the Cowboys radar. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

 

BRONCOS CAP SQUEEZE

THE Broncos have been gripped by a salary-cap squeeze that could leave a number of players fighting for their long-term futures at the club.

Brisbane are close to securing Corey Oates to a three-year extension but to complete the deal, the Broncos must get their finances in order.

It is understood the Cowboys have made inquiries about halfback Sean O'Sullivan, who gets his big chance to impress in the grudge match against South Sydney.

O'Sullivan has taken up an option for next year but whether he remains at Brisbane beyond 2020 is intriguing.

Veteran hooker Andrew McCullough is also off-contract next year and may have to walk away to help the club retain superstar back-rower David Fifita.

 

Kodi Nikorima (left) with teammate Issac Luke. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Kodi Nikorima (left) with teammate Issac Luke. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

 

TOUGH CALL VINDICATED

BRISBANE coach Anthony Seibold has made some tough calls with his roster this season. One of his toughest, releasing Kodi Nikorima after seven rounds this season, appears to have been vindicated.

Nikorima was one of Brisbane's most popular players and there was outrage when Seibold signed off on a mid-season transfer to the Warriors.

The Warriors paid a staggering $650,000 a season for Nikorima, clearly believing he would be a long-term starting No.7. But Nikorima was relegated to the bench last week and will start off the pine again tomorrow when he faces the Sharks.

Nikorima has had some good games for the Warriors but it seems he is destined for a super-sub role.

 

NOSTRA-DAMN-US

WHICH NRL star predicted his side would lose just hours before kick-off last week? Let's hope he doesn't have more dreaded crystal-ball moments in the final few rounds.

 

Brodie Croft is yet to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
Brodie Croft is yet to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

 

CROFT ON THE BRINK

HALFBACK Brodie Croft needs to lift his game at Melbourne.

Blindside understand Storm coach Craig Bellamy is watching his development closely. Croft is off-contract at the end of next year and hasn't quite set the code alight as the successor to Cooper Cronk.

Croft is still only 22 and has shown genuine promise, but some of his option-taking in clutch moments this season has rung alarm bells. The former Easts Tigers playmaker is under pressure to go to another level in the finals and lead Melbourne to the premiership.

 

Payne Haas has been a freak for the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Payne Haas has been a freak for the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

PLAYER STOCKS

RISING

PAYNE HAAS: Seriously, what a freak. How many 19-year-old props weighing 120kg can run 43 metres and beat four players to score a match-winning try? The Broncos hulk is in a league of his own.

KALYN PONGA: Responded to criticism from Phil Gould with a sizzling two-try haul to thump the Cowboys. The Knights desperately need his flair to inspire a finals resurgence.

JARROD CROKER: Will go down as one of the most underrated players in NRL history. The Canberra co-captain has an uncanny knack of finding the tryline and put the boot into the Storm to frank their title prospects.

LATRELL MITCHELL: Showed great class with the handling of his social-media racism storm and responded by carving up the Warriors to send a formidable message on the eve of the finals.

 

 

FALLING

NATHAN BROWN: The Newcastle coach agreed to part ways with the Knights after hearing whispers the club was lining up other options. It's hard to imagine Brown would fall after Newcastle won six straight games to charge into the top four in Round 13.

COEN HESS: Had a shocker against the Knights in the Cowboys' 42-6 loss. The former Queensland hulk has lost his Origin jumper and seemingly his confidence. Needs to fight back next season.

CODY WALKER: Where has his early-season magic gone? The Rabbitohs pivot again failed to spark Souths in their shock loss to the Bulldogs. He needs a bumper game tonight against the Broncos.

TYRONE PEACHEY: Has arguably been the worst buy of the season. Arrived at the Titans as a NSW State of Origin player but has barely looked interested this season.



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