Jack Bird’s contract situation has opened the door for Dragons head of recruitment Shane Flanagan to target Sharks second-rower Briton Nikora as a potential replacement.
The NRL have poured cold water on reports linking former Broncos star Anthony Milford to a move to the Newcastle Knights in time to play next month.
Meanwhile the Sea Eagles are set to offer captain Daly Cherry-Evans a contract extension to ward off the Dolphins, while Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita has shopped himself to NRL rivals.
And the Bulldogs are reportedly close to securing the signature of Raiders star forward Ryan Sutton while Kalyn Ponga has been plotting his next career move.
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DRAGONS LOOK TO POACH SHARKS STAR
Former Sharks head coach and current Dragons recruitment boss Shane Flanagan looks set to make a play for Cronulla back-rower Briton Nikora.
The 24-year-old is off-contract at the end of the 2022 season and remains without an offer from the Sharks for next season and beyond.
The Daily Telegraph reported Flanagan is interested in luring Nikora across to the Dragons from 2023.
Nikora had been linked to a move to the Wests Tigers under New Zealand coach Michael Maguire.
However Flanagan’s ties to the gun back-rower could mean the Dragons are the frontrunners for his signature.
Nikora was brought to Cronulla by Flanagan during the Sharks’ premiership year of 2016.
The Dragons eye Nikora as a potential replacement for Jack Bird should he decide to leave the club.
Bird turned down a $500,000 a season extension with the Dragons to put his services on the open market.
Nikora has scored 17 tries in 62 games for the Sharks since his first grade debut in 2019, while he has also played four Tests for New Zealand.
KNIGHTS BID FOR MILFORD NEWS TO NRL
The Newcastle Knights’ bid to sign former Broncos star Anthony Milford to play this season has caught the NRL off-guard.
Milford was cut by the Rabbitohs after he was arrested on September 20 and charged with three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of wilful damage involving a vehicle.
However Milford recently was linked to a move to the Knights in time to debut for the club next month.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Danny Weidler reported that the NRL has had zero clubs approach them about registering a contract for Milford and the game’s governing body is not impressed by his actions in the alleged matter before the courts.
Milford appeared in a Brisbane court in October, but did not enter a plea.
Weidler believes we won’t see Milford in the NRL at any point this season.
However the 27-year-old and his management have maintained his innocence.
Milford has scored 70 tries in 193 games for the Raiders and Broncos since his debut in 2013, but played just 13 games in each of his last two seasons with Brisbane before being cut by the club.
Milford has been linked with a return to Queensland to reunite with Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins, but he won’t be getting a deal anywhere until he can get a contract registered with the NRL.
Milford has been training on his own in Queensland since his deal with the Rabbitohs fell through.
MANLY SET TO LOCK UP DCE ON EXTENSION TO WARD OFF DOLPHINS
The Sea Eagles are set to offer skipper Daly Cherry-Evans a one-year contract extension to allow him to finish his career a one-club player and keep him out of reach of the Dolphins.
Cherry-Evans is already contracted until the end of the 2023 season, but The Daily Telegraph’s Brent Read reported that he is in talks about a one-year extension.
That would blow any plans Cherry-Evans’ junior club the Dolphins have to bring him home out of the water.
“DCE has this year and another year left on his contract at Manly, but they are already talking to him about extending that for one more year,” Read said on Triple M.
“He will be 35 in 2024 DCE, but I’m told he is still one of the fittest blokes in the club if not the fittest.
“They have no qualms in extending DCE. They are talking to him at the moment. They are hoping to get something done before the season starts.
“What that would means is it basically cuts off Redcliffe. DCE was born in Redcliffe. His father played for the Dolphins.
“But effectively that means DCE will finish his career at Manly.
“He is on 260-odd first grade games. If he plays for three more years that is another 70-odd games and it gives him the chance to go past Cliff Lyons as Manly’s all-time record holder.
“Steve Menzies is beyond that but some of Beaver’s games were for the Northern Eagles.
“Daly is going to finish his career at Manly it looks like, which is a good outcome for the Sea Eagles.”
Cherry-Evans has scored 71 tries in 261 games for Manly since his debut in 2011 while he has played 16 Origins for Queensland and 15 Tests for the Kangaroos and won a premiership with the Sea Eagles in his first year.
WARRIORS PLAYMAKER SHOPS HIMSELF TO NRL RIVALS
Out of favour Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita has put him in the shop window for a move away from the club.
The Daily Telegraph’s Brent Read reported the Warriors playmaker’s management has sent a letter to clubs to gauge their interest in picking up his client’s services.
Harris-Tavita is off-contract at the end of the 2022 season and the Warriors are yet to make him an offer for an extension.
“Harris-Tavita’s manager sent an email out to clubs last week,” Read said on triple M.
“He has sort of been on the outer there a little bit in the past year or so.
“They haven’t offered him a new deal. He looks like he will play fullback in Round 1 with Reece Walsh out.
“He is a good versatile player so I’m sure he will find some interest elsewhere. He is too good to be on the scrap heap.
“He is a good enough player to get a start somewhere else. It is strange because he has done a pretty serviceable job there when he has got the chance.
“I’m sure someone will look to pick him up.”
Benji Marshall believes Harris-Tavita is an excellent prospect given the lack of quality halves across the competition.
“They have signed four halves so there is obviously not a spot for him to fit in there,” Marshall said.
“If I was him I would be looking for somewhere else to go as well.
“If I was looking for someone to control a game. Halves and good halves are hard to come by these days so he is definitely someone you would be looking at.
“But worrying signs from the Warriors as well.”
The 22-year-old has scored six tries in 37 games since his debut in 2019 and has played one Test for Samoa.
PONGA TURNS UP HEAT ON KNIGHTS IN CONTRACT SAGA
Kalyn Ponga is keeping the Knights on their toes as his next contract decision draws closer admitting that his next deal will be all about winning as the Dolphins lead a number of rival clubs in the running for his signature.
The 23-year-old is currently on a massive deal with the Knights through until the end of the 2024 season, but with player options in his favour for the next two years, so he could depart the club as early as the end of 2022.
Speaking on SEN radio Ponga turned up the heat on the Knights to make the right moves to help him win a premiership in the next three seasons or he could be headed for the exit.
“I guess I’ll look at where I am now,” Ponga said on SEN 1170 The Captain’s Run.
“I’ve always sort of planned ahead and predicted what’s going to happen in the future.
“Hoping that a few things happen, if they don’t then happen, then (I’ll think), ‘Okay, what’s this option? What happens down this road? If that does happen what happens down that road’.
“I’ve sort of already got an idea of what my next few years look like in my head.
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“They’re in my head … so I won’t be telling you what they are. It’s not about security or anything, it’s more just, I want to win.
“I just feel like if you get to the end of your contract and you start thinking about your next … two years ago I had the next four years planned in my head, but the goalposts always change.
“For me, in this period of my life, it’s about winning.”
Ponga has scored 38 tries in 83 games for the Cowboys and Knights since his debut in 2016 and has played four Origins for Queensland to date.
His next deal be it at the Knights or an NRL rival could make him the highest paid player in the game.
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ANOTHER COUP FOR THE KENNEL
Raiders English import Ryan Sutton is reportedly set for a move to the Bulldogs in another huge coup for the Canterbury club.
The 26-year-old is reportedly close to signing a three-year contract according to The Daily Telegraph, adding to their new recruits for the 2023 season.
Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney will also be making the move to Belmore Oval after the 2022 season.
Salary cap constraints have reportedly forced Sutton out of the nation’s capital, but the Englishmen’s arrival could spell trouble for other members of the Bulldogs pack.
Paul Vaughan, who signed a one-year career lifeline deal as well as fellow countrymen Luke Thompson could be on the move after the 2022 season.
Sutton has appeared 58 times for the Raiders since joining in 2019 from Wigan in the English Super League.
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