Jul 05

Kieran Foran a likely poster boy for Parramatta Eels and ANZ Stadium

Big names: ANZ Stadium ambassadors Kieren Jack, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Benji Marshall, Luke Brooks and Josh Reynolds. Photo: SuppliedKieran Foran is a strong chance of being added to ANZ Stadium’s list of ambassadors once he makes his switch to Parramatta next season.

The venue – which already has Israel Folau, Kieren Jack, Greg Inglis, Luke Brooks, Benji Marshall and Josh Reynolds on its books – is after a big-name Eel to join the stable. Jarryd Hayne was all but locked in for the role this season, but his decision to pursue his NFL dream has left a void that is yet to be filled.

The Eels are likely to again play two of their home games at ANZ Stadium next year and the plan is for each of the teams who play out of the ground to have an ambassador. Foran is the obvious choice. The Manly pivot has captained his country, is well spoken and is the Parramatta poster boy the club has long craved.

The way he handled a difficult contractual situation – which was a mess of the Eels’ making, rather than his own – further highlights why he was one of the most sought-after players in the game.

Storm looked at Nielsen

Melbourne made discreet enquiries about bringing sacked Dragon Dane Nielsen back to the club before the June 30 deadline.

The Storm have suffered numerous injuries to outside backs, most notably to stars Billy Slater and Marika Koroibete, and were looking to bolster their depth.

Nielsen, who has already played 78 NRL matches for the Storm, sought leave to appeal his sacking by St George Illawarra following allegations he bit a woman on the leg during a drinking session. However, the request was rejected and the NRL made it clear the former Maroons centre wouldn’t be allowed to play football again this year.

Manly loss could rise

Manly had initially budgeted for a financial loss of $1.5 million for the financial year, but we’re hearing that figure could now rise to as much as $2.5 million.

The Sea Eagles are likely to be on the lookout for a new major sponsor and will also have to pay out a number of contracts to staff who have been fired or made redundant.

The controlling Penn family will have to pick up all the bills they used to share with former co-owners Quantum.

Barrett to look after juniors as he waits

We’re hearing Trent Barrett has put down the secateurs after his gardening leave ended recently.

The Manly coach in waiting has returned to work at Penrith following a recent board meeting to discuss the matter. But rather than his usual assistant coaching duties, Barrett will be looking after the club’s juniors until he transitions to Brookvale.

Geoff Toovey will remain in charge of the Sea Eagles in the short term but is the short-priced favourite to take over from Tim Sheens as Kangaroos coach.

Sandow saga

Foran’s contractual debacle isn’t the only deal that almost caused Parramatta heartache. The Eels are keen to show Chris Sandow the door but he, too, was almost re-signed on massive coin.

The enigmatic halfback had a very lucrative deal on the table, which club officials pulled at the last moment when there was a request to put additional pay triggers into the deal. Had Sandow signed straight away, coach Brad Arthur would have been stuck for even longer with a player he is keen to move on.

Positive outcome

One of the most heartwarming stories in recent times is the release of the talented Tali footballing brothers from Villawood Detention Centre. Leighton, a 17-year-old Wests Tigers centre, and Randwick prop Epalahame were about to be deported to Tonga but the support of the rugby codes, with considerable help from Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton, ensured they can continue their careers.

There is every chance they could also make their mark in the ring after impressing renowned boxing trainer George Tannous. Tannous – who has worked with Vic Darchinyan, Solomon Haumono, Solomon Egberime and Shane Quinn – was impressed with the youngsters.

“These guys are really strong and co-ordinated,” Tannous said. “I put them through their paces and for big boys they were surprisingly fluent, they moved very well.”

The brothers will remain in the care of uncle Sione Afu and manager Chris Haddad in their second shot at making the grade.

No hard feelings

Paul Gallen labelled them “dropkicks” after they inadvertently “announced” the NSW skipper’s retirement from representative football, only for all parties to learn later that no such announcement was made. But the diehard supporters behind the Shark Cast, Adam Newman and Sam Shinazzi, have vowed to continue to support the veteran forward.

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan told the show Gallen wouldn’t represent the Blues or Australia next year, but the news was news to everyone, including Gallen.

On the most recent episode, Newman said there were no hard feelings towards Gallen despite the backlash the Shark Cast has copped..

“He made those comments – probably ignorance isn’t the right word – just not knowing the full back story,” Newman explained.

“I will say they did hurt. It wasn’t us that made the comments, it was Shane Flanagan and we didn’t know they weren’t true until it was announced on Triple M that night. We did not trawl the story to the mainstream media, we put it up on Twitter, as we do with the last 15 episodes.

“To conclude on this matter, we were very disappointed to hear those comments from Paul Gallen. We will continue to support him and continue to support the club. Hopefully we can march along to our first premiership in 2015.”

Talented Wright 

There were plenty of league talent scouts at the Australian Schoolboys rugby championships at Riverview. The name many penned into their little black books was St Joseph’s captain Tom Wright, who is viewed as a potential half for several NRL clubs.

Knights sign Damian Sironen

The Sironen family’s love affair with league continues after Damian Sironen – the nephew of Balmain legend Paul – signed with Newcastle. The cousin of Tiger pups Curtis and Bailey, is a ball-playing prop who has joined the Knights before the June 30 deadline after stints with Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Elias’ Greek sojourn

NSW great Ben Elias won’t be at the Origin decider, opting instead for a break in Greece. The former Balmain hooker assured us the economic collapse of the country since his arrival is strictly coincidence.

“It’s safer over here in Athens than it is at Suncorp Stadium,” Elias said.

Warriors cleanout

Word from across the ditch is that the Warriors are about to go through a major cleanout of their roster. The club has splashed out on Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and officials are keen to move on a number of players, some of them contracted, to free up funds. Watch this space.

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