Roosters’ ploy to land rugby star immediately; Smith responds to rumours — Whispers – Football News

Roosters’ ploy to land rugby star immediately; Smith responds to rumours — Whispers

With their depth being tested, the Roosters are hoping to sign Wallabies and NSW Waratahs winger Mark Nawaqanitawase for the second half of the NRL season.

Roosters centres Michael Jennings and Billy Smith are expected to miss some time with injury, leaving the club thin on healthy outside backs.

Nawaqanitawase is due to join the Roosters on a two-year deal from 2025 but according to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Tricolours are attempting to lure the 23-year-old rugby union star to the club earlier with the Super Rugby season over.

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Nawaqanitawase has asked for an early release from his Rugby Australia contract with the winger reportedly not in consideration for the Wallabies for their 13-Test schedule in the back half of 2024.

While unlikely to represent the Wallabies before switching to rugby league, Nawaqanitawase is in the running to be named for Australia’s rugby sevens squad for the Paris Olympics.

Nawaqanitawase’s agent Milan Volavola-Shankar confirmed to the SMH that his client was hoping to leave his Rugby Australia contract early.

“At this stage the Roosters have expressed interest in bringing Mark Nawaqanitawase prior to his contract start date,” Volavola-Shankar said.

“We are in the midst of discussions and negotiations with Rugby Australia about the prospect of an early release subject to his pending selection in rugby sevens for the Olympics.”

Mark Nawaqanitawase (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)Source: AFP


Roosters star Brandon Smith has addressed speculation he won’t see out his contract and revealed the “kick up the arse” he got from senior teammates.

Smith has been linked with an early exit from the Roosters in the wake of getting dropped for disciplinary reasons last week.

The 28-year-old received a breach notice for missing a team meeting earlier this month and while not a cardinal sin in isolation, the club came down hard because it reportedly reflected a pattern of behaviour.

It also triggered multiple reports that the club was losing patience with Smith – who is on $900,000 next season – and that he could be shown the door early.

But the New Zealand international has moved to quash departure speculation that he’d replace Damien Cook at the Rabbitohs next year.

“I knew the consequences were coming. I sort of expected it to happen, so when I got told it wasn’t so bad,” Smith said on being dropped for disciplinary reasons on The Bye Round Podcast.

“There’s only one thing I did see, someone said I was off to the Bunnies which is pretty interesting,” he said.

“That’s not true, just to get that out there.”

Smith revealed the Roosters leadership group told him he was falling short of club standards in what marked a wake up call and admitted he has to take the good headlines with the bad.

However, despite the coverage around his behaviour and his future, Smith explained he’s got no animosity towards the media.

“At the moment, I’m off socials so I’m not seeing it and I don’t read the paper,” he said.

“You’ve got to take the good days with the bad days and recognise that because you’re in the papers for being bad, it’s because you’re being bad.

“They don’t purposely target you all the time and you’re usually in there for doing something negative, if you can turn that around and do something positive you’re going to get in the papers for doing something positive.

DAILY TELEGRAPH. Brandon Smith & Victor Radley at Sydney Roosters team training at Moore Park. Monday 10/06/2024. Picture by Max Mason-HubersSource: News Corp Australia

“Journos get a bad rep … they report what’s the hot news and I don’t have any concerns about them writing bad stuff about me because at the moment, I’m not being good enough and I’m not doing what’s up to the Roosters standard.

“The leadership group have told me that, it’s a kick up the arse like Rads (Victor Radley) said … now it’s about turning those newspaper articles around from something negative to something positive and I can do that through my footy.”


Brad Arthur is reportedly gunning to become the Leeds Rhinos coach in the Super League.

Arthur is on the lookout for a job after he was sacked by the Eels – who he took to the 2022 NRL grand final – last month after more than 11 years in the job.

Leeds coach Rohan Smith is under serious pressure to keep his job, according to English media, after losing to bottom-placed Hull FC last weekend.

Arthur, 50, has only ever coached Parramatta and – with his children mostly grown up – is chasing a sea change, according to Total Rugby League.

If he’s looking for a serious change, Sydney doesn’t get much more different than Leeds – a parochial university town in the north of England.

Arthur’s finished with a respectable 52 per cent win record at the Eels after 264 games at the helm.

His sons, Jake and Matt, are contracted at the Sea Eagles and Eels respectively.

Brad Arthur. Picture: NRL ImagerySource: News Corp Australia


Damien Cook’s departure from South Sydney is all but confirmed, with a leading Dragons middle reportedly heading the other way.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have reportedly signed promising outside back Jack Bostock to a two-year extension.

Already signed with the Dolphins until the end of 2025, Bostock will now be contracted through to the end of 2027.

The Dragons junior was one of Dolphins’ first signings.

Bostock only played in four games last year but has come of age as a first grader in 2024 where he’s been a staple for the Dolphins on the left wing, appearing in all 13 matches.

The 20-year-old boasts quite the try-scoring strike rate this season, having crossed 11 times from 13 appearances.

His 11 tries means he’s one of the four men leading the competition’s tryscoring stats this season, alongside Maika Sivo, Tommy Talau and Sunia Turuva.

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South Sydney dummy half Damien Cook’s move to the St George Dragons is reportedly nearing a done deal.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Proszenko, a two-year deal between Cook and the Dragons is nearing completion, despite the former Origin star denying his desire to leave last week.

Speaking to Channel 9’s Danny Weidler out the front of earlier this week, Cook confirmed the Dragons interest in his services from next year, but is adamant he does not want to leave South Sydney.

“(It’s) pretty nice they’re (the Dragons) looking to put an offer in,” Cook said.

“Obviously I haven’t spoken to my manager. But (it’s) good to see they think I’ve still got plenty of footy (left).”


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“I’ve still got another year to go here and I love this club, they’ve been great to me.

“They’ve been everything. It’s where I’ve started a family, bought a house. All those big moments have been while I’m at this club.

“I’ve made no decision whatsoever.”

However, it now appears likely the 32-year-old will indeed depart South Sydney at the end of this season, drawing to a close nearly a decade of service at the club.

According to reports, the Rabbitohs will not stand in the way of Cook departing if a deal between the hooker and the Dragons can be agreed.

Cook’s contract next year is worth around $650,000, according to The SMH, and the Dragons would need the Rabbitohs to chip in part of his salary in 2025.

The Rabbitohs recently re-signed young gun hooker Peter Mamouzelos until the end of 2027.

Cook’s arrival would end the Dragons search for a No.9, which saw them reportedly contact Jeremy Marshall-King before he re-signed with the Dolphins.

St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan is happy with his current hooker Jacob Liddle but sees his future in the No.14 jersey.


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Meanwhile, Dragons prop Jack de Belin is reportedly set for a move to the Rabbitohs on a two-year deal.

De Belin, 33, is off contract at the end of this season and is reportedly hunting a multi-year deal, something the Dragons will not offer him.

In 14 games this season, De Belin has crossed for two tries and running for 96 metres on average. In defence, the Dragons prop is averaging 29 tackles per game at a 94% tackle efficiency.

One of South Sydney’s greatest shortcomings this season has been their lack of forward momentum, with injuries to Tevita Tatola and Cameron Murray impacting this.

From next season, the Rabbitohs will be without Tom Burgess, meaning their front row stocks will be light.

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