Taupau free to roam as Sea Eagles eye Maroons’ enforcer
Marty Taupau could be on the move after being told his contract is unlikely to be renewed after next season.
Taupau, 31, has another year left on a monster Sea Eagles contract - worth about $800,000 - but the Sea Eagles would not stand in his way if he wanted to switch to a rival at the end of this year.
It comes as the Sea Eagles launch a bid to sign Queensland back-rower Jaydn Su'a.
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Su'a is off-contract at season's end and negotiations with the Rabbitohs are in their infancy.
Taupau's departure could also open the door for Manly to make a rich play for Parramatta lock Nathan Brown, whose contract talks with the Eels have stalled.
The Sea Eagles are in the midst of a major roster revamp.
With Taupau's immediate playing future at the club now uncertain there are a host of players in a similar situation. Curtis Sironen, Jorge Taufua, Tevita Funa, Reuben Garrick, Dylan Walker, Kieran Foran and Morgan Boyle are all off-contract and are facing an uphill battle to remain at the club.
Su'a, at 23, would be a perfect addition to the Sea Eagles forward pack after they locked away key youngsters including Sean Keppie, Haumole Olakau'ata, Taniela Paseka and Josh Schuster to long-term deals.
Manly fans got a little excited this week when images emerged of Tom Trbojevic in near full-flight. But the Sea Eagles are taking a super conservative approach to their star fullback. There were suggestions he would be back as early as round four but that won't happen. There is hope he could be back in time to play the Warriors in round five but, if not, he should feature in their round six match against the Titans.
Coach Des Hasler is confident Trbojevic will play against the Warriors.
"It will be the week after," Hasler said. "It won't be next week."
CLUBS VOICE EXPANSION CONCERNS
Clubs will seek their own independent advice after questioning the NRL's proposed $50 million windfall figure regarding expansion.
Up to half of the 16 clubs have already signed on to do their own analysis of the feasibility of the NRL introducing a 17th team.
It was revealed this week that an internal analysis from League Central showed the a second team in Brisbane would generate $50 million. But clubs have their concerns.
It is understood clubs have engaged sport and entertainment leader Gemba to produce a report. Clubs want an independent insight into the ramifications of the introduction of a new team in Queensland.
Naturally the clubs based in Queensland are leading the charge and are working with some of their rivals to help fund the research.
The topic of expansion dominated a phone hook-up between club bosses on Wednesday. Panthers boss Brian Fletcher intimated to NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo that not one of the 16 teams supported expansion.
Abdo rejected that assertion.
MORGAN'S PLAYING FUTURE ON EDGE
There are fresh concerns regarding the playing future of Michael Morgan with the Cowboys skipper's ongoing shoulder concern flaring up, ruling him out of North Queensland's match against the Titans.
There were fears during the off-season that Morgan's career faced uncertainty as the condition of his shoulder deteriorated. It has again become an issue. While Morgan has featured in the first two games for North Queensland, he has struggled to reproduce the form which once saw him mentioned as the game's best player.
The Cowboys released a statement on Thursday which suggested Morgan would be back for the club's round four clash against the Sharks on the Sunshine Coast.
"Morgan reported soreness after the Round 2 game against the Dragons and the condition of his shoulder has not improved to the point where Cowboys medical staff believe he would be able to take the field on Sunday," the statement read.
DOGS SEARCH FOR NEW VENUE
Cairns and Albury are among the regional cities pushing to host the Bulldogs' round 20 match, with the club calling for the support of local communities.
The match against the Titans has been moved from Bankwest Stadium because of a reshuffle of the Bulldogs' home matches.
Canterbury had to relocate their planned round five match against Melbourne from Perth to Stadium Australia because of potential COVID restrictions.
That has given the club some breathing space to find a suitor for the game against the Titans with the hope to take it to a community starved of first class rugby league action.
"We're really excited to see where our round 20 match lands," Bulldogs chief executive Aaron Warburton said. "The Bulldogs have a strong history in taking matches across Australia and New Zealand. We aren't solely interested in playing in regional Australia, we're looking forward at arriving early, engaging schools, local business communities and adding true value where it counts."
MATTY'S MOBILE PLAN FAILS
Matty Johns was determined to live without a mobile phone after misplacing his device in recent weeks. Johns went for a while adamant the phone would turn up but when it didn't, he thought being contact-less appealed to him until wife Trish intervened.
"I decided going forward in my life I wasn't going to have my phone," Johns said. "That was until I told my wife I was going to the shops to get cauliflower and come back eight hours later ... I was told to get one."
HUGE ODDS FOR RECORD HAUL
Brett Morris is listed as a $501 chance to break Ken Irvine's all-time try-scoring record by crossing for 48+ tries this season.
The scary thing is he is on track to do it if he keeps up his current rate.
While unlikely as that may be, the TAB are offering odds of $501 for Morris to beat Irvine's 212-try record. Sounds crazy? If Leicester City can win the Premier League at 5000-1 anything is possible.
Morris has scored 171 tries in his career and is fourth overall. Morris is a $2 chance to score 26+ tries, which would take him to second on the all-time list, and past Billy Slater. He is $1.02 to score 16+.
BITTER RIVALRY PULLS A CROWD
The Rabbitohs are on track for their biggest crowd at Stadium Australia for a home game since mid-2018 with more than 20,000 people expected when they host the Roosters on Friday night.
The Rabbitohs had 26,331 people at the game between the two archrivals in 2018 and 20,093 in 2019. South Sydney boss Blake Solly wants that number to be closer to 30,000 as COVID restrictions ease in the first leg of the annual Ron Coote Cup.
"It is encouraging people want to start coming to games again," Solly said. "We had 8000 at the game last year which was capped at 10,000. People were still wary of attending live sport. I feel like people are ready to watch their team play and cheer in the stands."
GUERRA COOKS UP A STORM
Aidan Guerra has wasted little time in adjusting to life post-football, with the former Newcastle and Roosters back-rower turning his attention to the kitchen.
Guerra teamed up with chef Martino Pulito to create a dish to be served at Italian eatery Cucina Porto in The Star.
Guerra's dish - grilled octopus - pays tribute to his Italian heritage and reminds him of time he spent with his grandfather as part of the restaurant's 'Limited Edition approved by Nonna' campaign.
"Cooking has always been a passion," Guerra said.
"I got an opportunity to design a dish that represented my Nonno and my childhood memories of eating food with him. The experience was unreal but I did learn I'm way out of my depth in the commercial kitchen."
Channel 7's Mark Beretta has also come up with a gnocchi with beef sauce dish.
Even players had to scan the QR code and input their details before they were allowed entry into Bankwest Stadium last weekend. The players lined up and were made to fill-out the form even though they are easily traceable given they are taking to the field. The venue was obviously taking a safety first approach.
DALY'S NEW ROLE
Daly Cherry-Evans has been appointed general president of the Rugby League Players' Association. He will fill the position vacated by Cameron Smith. Melbourne forward Christian Welch was elected to the RLPA's board.
PANTHERS' NEW DEAL
Panthers Stadium is no more with Penrith taking up a sponsorship opportunity with BlueBet to rename their home ground BlueBet Stadium.
The deal is for at least the next two years.
"For a number of years Panthers intentionally retained the naming rights to our home ground," Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher said. "However the significant and ongoing financial impact of COVID-19, combined with the considerable investment from BlueBet, made this a fantastic opportunity we simply couldn't pass up.
"We're excited to welcome BlueBet to the Panthers family."
PAPALII HITS THE FAIRWAYS
We're not sure if it is the strangest game-day routine but it is certainly different. Canberra enforcer Josh Papalii has revealed he plays golf on the morning of matches and sometimes with teammate Jordan Rapana.
"If we play at 4pm, we tee off on Sunday morning at 7am," Papalii told the Radio Australia podcast Can You Be More Pacific with Roq and Cav. "I wake up at 6am, play 18 holes, back home at 10.30am. Breakfast was ready, sat down with kids wife, sister had breakfast and watched TV and a movie. Fell asleep woke up and got ready and went out to the game."
It could be an early start for Papalii on Saturday given their match against the Warriors starts at 3pm.
FAMILIAR NAMES CHASING OLYMPIC DREAM
It's been 21 years since Australia's women struck gold in water polo at the Sydney Olympics but the men and the women's nationals teams are in with a shot at the medals in Tokyo.
With players prevented from travelling overseas for warm-ups against international opponents, that means the only chance to impress the selectors is the Australian Water Polo League and the National Youth Water Polo Championships - being played in Brisbane.
Some of the stars in action include the children of sporting royalty such as AJ Roach, son of Balmain legend Blocker, Bronte Halligan, daughter of Kiwi great Darryl, and Tilly Kearns, daughter of Wallabies great Phil. All three are strong contenders for tickets to Tokyo.
More than 160 matches including AWL senior championship, the National Youth Water Polo Championships and Olympic team selection matches will stream exclusively through www.dailytelegraph.com.au across 16 days, starting on Wednesday, in the most comprehensive broadcast partnership in the sport's history.
ALL EYES ON
How many players will be sent to the sin bin this week? The NRL has all but declared a 'crackdown' on foul play after the likes of Felise Kaufusi stayed on the field last week for his shot which left Ryan Matterson heavily concussed. It'll be interesting to see if the men in the middle are trigger happy and sit multiple players down.
Greg Inglis leading South Sydney to his first win as a Rabbitoh dominated headlines on this day 10 years ago. After losing their opening two games, Inglis sprung to life. He set up two tries and scored another in South Sydney's 32-18 win against Parramatta in front of 22,153 people. Parramatta's Fuifui Moimoi was sin-binned for abusing the referee midway through the second half.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
DAVID SEAGE: 16 top grade games for Newcastle from 2004-06
David Seage went from end-of-season celebrations on Airlie Beach to teammate of future Immortal Andrew Johns in the space of a month.
Seage was signed sight unseen by Newcastle coach Michael Hagan off the back of a chance meeting with one of Hagan's friends.
He had attracted minor interest from Canberra and Canterbury and had trained with the Broncos but nothing eventuated for Seage until the end of season footy trip where he bumped into Gary Greinke, who coached Norths in the Queensland Cup, and had seen Seage impress for Wynnum Manly.
"We were having a beer and a chat and he said 'surely you're going somewhere next year'," Seage said. "I said there were a few things in the pipeline but nothing concrete. He said he knew Hagan really well and I said I would take what I can get.
"Within two days Hages (Hagan) gave me a call and within a month I was in Newcastle training alongside the likes of Johns, Ben Kennedy and Danny Buderus. I signed for $10,000."
The first time he stepped foot in Newcastle was when Hagan picked him up from the airport. The club arranged a job in scaffolding alongside former Newcastle players Robbie McCormack and Paul Marquet.
"I was on the roof when Hages called to tell me I would be playing round one," Seage said. "In five days I was going to be playing Friday night footy against Penrith who won the competition the year before."
Seage started off the bench but was thrust into the action when Robbie O'Davis tore his calf just 10 minutes into the game in 2004.
"I won players player," Seage said. "On the bus back all I could keep thinking was I achieved what I wanted to and play an NRL game."
With O'Davis sidelined, Seage had an opportunity. He was an instant success before rupturing his ACL in just his third game.
"Joey (Johns) did the same injury 20 minutes earlier," Seage said. "I was shattered. The club looked after me and gave me a two year deal."
A staph infection slowed his rehabilitation but Seage was able to make it back onto the field the following season but was again restricted by injuries to five games.
He was in and out of the top grade in 2006 before receiving his opportunity in the final regular season match.
"The club weren't going to re-sign but I played well and they gave me another year," Seage, now a firefighter in Brisbane, said. "Milton Thaiday was playing fullback but Hages said he wasn't quite ready and I was going to play in the first week of the finals.
"Five minutes in I did my other knee. I knew straight away. I struggled the next year and didn't play first grade again.
"I would change the injuries if I could but I never regret any of it. If you asked me if I could play 10 years of Queensland Cup without an injury or play four years with the likes of the players I did in the NRL and have those injuries - I wouldn't change a thing."
Originally published as Taupau free to roam as Sea Eagles eye Maroons' enforcer