NRL coach’s huge play to sign Quade, SBW
Quade Cooper could be a shock signing for Wests Tigers as NRL teams begin to plot the rest of their COVID-19 interrupted season.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire called Cooper's manager Khoder Nasser on Thursday to ask about his availability and was buoyed by the response.
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Cooper is currently signed with Japanese rugby team Kintetsu but revealed earlier this week it would be the chance to fulfil a dream if he could secure a short term contract in the NRL.
It is believed Kintetsu is not against the idea and, with Cooper stranded in Brisbane because of the lockdown, it would allow him to maintain match fitness while the Japanese competition is suspended.
Maguire also got the latest on Sonny Bill Williams' availability for the Kiwis after his recent knee operation.
Maguire is also New Zealand's national coach.
MANSOUR THE MACHINE
Some players have left no doubt they will resume in top shape when the NRL season resumes next month.
Panthers winger Josh Mansour was spotted training with former world title contender Nedal "Skinny" Hussein by one of our Sport Con operatives, Bux Laalaa, and revealed he has kept himself in super shape during isolation.
Hussein suffered one of the great injustices of sport early in his career when he fought Manny Pacquiao on the rise.
He lost the fight when a doctor suspiciously declared he could not continue from a cut in the 10th round. Earlier, in the fourth round, he dropped Pacquiao and the crowd could have gone and made a cup of tea in the time the referee counted to eight and Pacquiao finally made it to his feet.
BATEMAN IN COTTON WOOL
Canberra are expected to take a cautious approach to John Bateman's return with the back-rower no certainty to line-up when the NRL eventually kicks off.
Bateman has been optimistic that he would make his comeback from a shoulder injury in round three - whenever that is. But coach Ricky Stuart said they would take a slow approach with their English star.
"John is not going to be very fair away at all," Stuart said. "We have been doing as much rehab as we possibly can on him.
"It will depend on how the shoulder responds to the next level of rehabilitation and contact work he will move into."
NRL GOOD GUYS
There have been plenty of selfless acts in clubland as teams grapple with the coronavirus but a special mention to North Queensland's Paul Green and Peter Parr. The coach and the head of football respectively had the option of staying employed as part of the Cowboys' skeleton staff. But we have been told that as of late last month the pair opted to stand down without pay, joining the rest of the coaching staff and the majority of the office staff in a show of leadership and solidarity.
CONFERENCE SYSTEM TO BE DISCUSSED
While there is next to no chance of a conference system being implemented this season, expect it to be back on the agenda in coming years. The idea of splitting teams into conferences was given serious consideration in a bid to resume the season this year. Having already played two matches complicated the process but there are those in clubland and at the executive level who believe it could be the best way to move forward. It will be discussed again with a view of exploring its implementation down the track.
Listen! The Johns family in isolation consider the NRL's return on May 28 and they delve into the world of favourite movies and wrestlers!
ORIGIN ACE SIGNS ON FOR SPRINT-OFF
South Sydney outside back Dane Gagai has joined the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Bronson Xerri and Joey Manu in committing to a cross-code sprint-off. Newcastle duo Connor Watson and Kalyn Ponga have also thrown their support behind the race which is being put together by sprint coach Roger Fabri. The players started their training this week and will undergo a three week program before they race off in head to head events with the winner progressing.
ALL EYES ON
A table tennis showdown between two-time premiership winner Luke Lewis and our very own Michael Carayannis tomorrow. ABC Grandstand lead caller Andrew Moore has taken to commentating all these weird and wonderful "events". Lewis came from behind to beat Carayannis in the darts contest last week.
BLAST FROM THE PAST - Michael Robertson
209 top grade (Canberra 59, Manly 150) from 2001-11.
Michael Robertson has no idea how his career would have played out if it wasn't for a phone call from ex-Raiders teammate Michael Monaghan.
At that stage Robertson was in and out of first grade at the Raiders, battling injuries and confidence. But when an out of the blue phone call from Monaghan came in 2005, it left Robertson with little doubt what he needed to do.
"I was good friends with Mick from playing with him at Canberra," Robertson said. "He was at Manly by then and said Scott Donald was leaving and there was an opportunity for me there. I had another year to run on my Canberra contract but I asked for a release. I wasn't looking to leave but I was getting a bit frustrated being in and out of first grade. So I signed for an opportunity, not much money. I just wanted to back myself."
Robertson left the Raiders playing 59 top grade games in five years. His debut against the Cowboys came in the same season where he had just finished playing for Canberra's under-18 side.
Robertson made his Sea Eagles debut also in Townsville five years later.
"I had to fly up on my own and play that day because Steve Matai got injured in the captain's run," Robertson said.
Robertson would go on to play 139 consecutive matches for the Sea Eagles with a minor knee injury costing him six games in the middle of his final year in 2011. Among that streak included a treble of tries in Manly's 40-0 grand final win against Melbourne in 2008. His final NRL appearance came in Manly's premiership win against the Warriors in 2011.
"When Mick made that call I never thought I would've achieved what I did," Robertson said. "I just wanted to play a bit of consistent footy. To play in the semi-finals in my first year and then win a few premierships was a dream run and to do it with blokes who are still my best mates today is very special."
Robertson, who works for a sport apparel company on the northern beaches and was this year appointed as the NRL's match review committee co-ordinator, finished his career with a two-year stint with London Broncos.
Originally published as NRL coach's huge play to sign Quade, SBW