The NRL is never boring, even when the clubs aren’t playing. Every other day various reports pour in about a player switching clubs, players getting injured, players being straight up d**k heads off the field, high-profile appointments and all the rest of it.
This weeks column will focus on a couple of the more interesting stories so far this NRL off-season.
There’s the former Rugby World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen, Penrith fan-favourite Josh Mansour and the probably should be in jail but somehow isn’t Dylan Walker.
Let’s tear right into it!
The same man who once guided the All Blacks to a World Cup victory in 2015 and another one as an assistant coach in 2011, is now joining Canterbury as a high-performance consultant. This is a massive coup for them as they continue their off-season transformation. Make no doubt about it!
It comes hot on the heels of their announcement of the signing of Kyle Flanagan. Good things are happening thick and fast in Belmore at the moment!
Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill described it as “fantastic news” and that’s exactly what it is. He also said, “To be able to have someone with Steve’s record and background work with our staff and players will be a great asset to our club”. Which is 100% true. This is simply massive for them.
As a head coach, some of his other achievements include winning the Rugby Championship on six different occasions and winning the Bledisloe Cup eight years in a row.
His winning mentality and what he does as a coach can surely only rub off on the Bulldogs players in all the right ways. And this is especially crucial for the younger lads who will be a bit down after suffering a lot of losses last season and not a whole lot of wins. He’ll be able to change them and get them raring to go, wanting to win every damn contest that they are in.
But maybe most importantly he’ll provide the mentoring to Trent Barrett who is a relatively green head coach. If Trent can soak up all the wisdom that Steve has to offer we could be looking at a dynasty in Canterbury in 10 years time.
Verdict – This is a simply amazing signing by Canterbury. Having someone of his calibre in and about the club can only do wonderful things for them.
The Penrith favourite has sensationally been told that he will not be in the starting side for next season. This meaning that he may well have played his last game for the club. But on reportedly $500,000 for next season, it’s unlikely the Panthers would be able to unload him onto any other club unless they pay most of his salary.
It’s being said that Charlie Staines will get the first shot on the Wing. Meaning that it would take either an injury or suspension for Mansour to get a shot. And for a player who’s proudly represented Penrith on over 150+ occasions, it all seems a little harsh for the veteran. He’s seemingly following in the footsteps of James Tamou who’s already left the club after Penrith offered him only one year. Nathan Cleary was among those disappointed, but he also understood the situation.
The question now remains, if Mansour leaves, where will he go? The Tigers are being considered a potential destination if Addo-Carr decides not to return to his former club. Whilst Melbourne could also potentially be considered a good destination for him in the event Addo-Carr does depart to be closer to his family in Sydney. Whilst I personally strongly believe that the Sea Eagles should be aiming for him if the Panthers were to chip in a % of his contractual costs. He could do great things on the beaches.
Verdict – Every club in the League will now be scrambling through their books to see if they can find a way to get him to their sides for the start of the new season. He won’t be playing for Penrith in 2021 that’s for sure! He’ll be repping a new team’s colours when that comes around.
He allegedly assaulted two men outside a restaurant in Sydney’s Narraweena, on the Northern Beaches. Leaked CCTV footage begins with him outside a different shop and looking pretty pissed off. As per reports, he had picked up some takeaway food and tried to enter the car of a woman he didn’t know. Then according to a Police Statement, a fight took place when a man approached Walker about it, whilst a restaurant worker tried to intervene. The fight then continued to happen inside the restaurant.
For somebody who has past assault charges, this is pretty damming stuff. In 2018 he was charged with assaulting his then-fiancé Alexandra Ivkovic. And although he was cleared of it, what Ivlovic detailed had happened, was pretty nasty stuff. So regardless of whether he did it previously or not, there may well be some truth to it.
The footage looks bad, painting Walker in a pretty negative light in this one. I’d say he’s going to come out of this one worse for wear and if found guilty, I don’t think many would have a problem with him being sacked from Manly and headed straight to jail. As a passionate Manly membership holder, I know I wouldn’t.
Verdict – If not guilty, fair enough. However, if guilty, sack him immediately, we don’t need that at our beloved club.
Stuff is always happening in the NRL! There is simply never a dull day!