‘Fallen out’: Axed star’s silent burn
WESTS Tigers coach Michael Maguire and prop Russell Packer are no longer speaking to each other, according to a report.
Packer has been at the top of the Tigers' list of players the club wants to unload - and it's now clear why.
The Daily Telegraph's Dean Ritchie revealed on Wednesday Packer and Maguire have fallen out and there is almost no chance the former Kiwi international will earn an NRL re-call with the Tigers.
Packer hasn't played in the NRL since round six - and he reportedly is not phased about the prospect of being exiled in reserve grade for an extended period of time.
The Tigers have also had no luck in attracting offers for Packer's fellow-out of favour stars, including Chris McQueen, Elijah Taylor and Josh Reynolds.
"It's a mess at the moment, their roster and their salary cap," Ritchie said.
"Packer and Maguire have fallen out. They virtually, as I understand it, don't talk. They're both very strong-willed personalities. And as we know with Madge, when you're off with Madge, you're off with Madge and there's not a whole lot you can do about it."
Packer is reportedly earning more than $650,000 for the 2019 season and is on a long term deal through to the end of 2021.
The Tigers will reportedly announce the signing of former Parramatta captain Tim Mannah until the end of the 2019 season this week.
The club is also reportedly set to say goodbye to cult hero Mahe Fonua, who has reportedly been told he will not be offered a contract for the 2020 season.
WAYNE DENIES REPORTS AGAIN
South Sydney have hosed down speculation that Queensland star Dane Gagai is restless and could seek an early release from his NRL contract.
It was reported on Wednesday that the 28-year-old Gagai was considering asking for an early exit from his deal, despite having two-and-a-half years left to run.
It was speculated that Gagai saw himself as a centre and was unhappy that James Roberts' arrival from Brisbane had pushed him onto the wing.
However, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said he had received assurances from Gagai that he wanted to stay and had not received an approach from his management.
"I have spoken to Dane this morning about reports in the media," Bennett said.
"He has refuted the reports and has said he is very happy playing at the Rabbitohs.
"He has reiterated that his preferred position is centre, which he has said to me previously, however, he is happy to play on the wing, or in fact any position in which the team needs him to play.
"He is committed to the club, he loves playing here, and he has no intention of leaving the club over next few years as per his contract."
Bennett, however, was left red-faced over his series of denials that the club was interested in signing Roberts, declaring his club had no interest in signing the former Broncos star, before the speedster signed with his club in the same month.
Gagai starred for the Maroons in last week's State of Origin win over NSW in which he scored two tries in a man-of-the-match effort.
He has scored 11 tries in 11 games for Queensland.
MATT LODGE SET TO REMAIN A BRONCO
Matt Lodge is reportedly set to ignore interest from Sydney clubs to remain a Bronco.
Lodge, who is off contract at the end of the 2019 season, has previously declared his desire to return to Sydney, where his family is based.
However, the Broncos are now expected to announce his re-signing.
Parramatta were believed to be the Sydney club chasing Lodge hardest.
ROOSTERS DO IT AGAIN WITH WALKER
The Sydney Roosters appear to have locked in Cooper Cronk's successor with the Tri-Colours set to unveil teen sensation Sam Walker.
Walker was the most sought after youngster in the NRL and was courted by several clubs and Rugby Australia but it's understood he has penned a two-year deal with the Roosters.
The 16-year-old was on a development deal with Brisbane however the Broncos let the talented playmaker slip through their fingers.
He has been touted as the most gifted player to emerge since Kalyn Ponga and will be eligible to play first-grade midway through next year.
He last week guided the Queensland under-18s to a win over NSW in a State of Origin curtain-raiser at Suncorp Stadium.
He recently met with Roosters coach Trent Robinson and Luke Keary, who he looks set to partner in the halves when Cronk retires at the end of 2019.
"It was really good to sit down and learn. Trent Robinson is the first head (NRL) coach to speak to me about the way I play and I picked up little tips," Walker told QRL.com earlier in the month.
"Trent is the best coach in the NRL at the moment and it is good to hear from the best. I've only ever had my dad and uncle (Shane) correct my game and encourage me how to play, so it was really good to hear his thoughts on how I can become a better player, because I am always learning at the moment.
"I am turning 17 very soon and I know I need to get better and improve."