Arvo wrap

Manly chief executive Grant Mayer says the Sea Eagles are close to signing representative forwards Anthony Watmough and brent kite to new three-year deals.

Watmough has been heavily chased by NRL rivals St George Illawarra but says he wanted to remain on the northern beaches. Kite was on Canberra's radar but the NSW prop is expected to commit to Manly later this week.

Mayer says the club is also in the process of trying to secure NSW fullback Brett Stewart on a long-term contract. Stewart's current deal runs out at the end of the 2008 season.

Up north, Newcastle continued their raid on St George Illawarra's ranks with impressive backrower Chris Houston the latest Dragon to agree to terms with the Knights.

Houston will link with the Knights on a three-year deal from next season as Newcastle continue to move forward with their recruitment drive. The 22-year-old second rower will become the fourth Dragon to head north with winger Luke MacDougall having already made the switch mid-season and Danny Wicks and Wes Naiqama due to join the Knights in 2008.

Houston made his NRL debut for the Dragons earlier this year and has played six games in the top grade.

Meanwhile, Gorden Tallis says he's struggling to understand how his former NRL club Brisbane can't find the money to keep champion prop Petero Civoniceva under the salary cap.

Writing in his weekly Brisbane newspaper column, Tallis says with several top-line players leaving at the end of the season he would have thought the Broncos could find the extra cash for one of their greatest players.

Tallis says unless the Broncos paid new Penrith recruits Peter Wallace and Joel Clinton ridiculous amounts there should be enough money under the cap to reward Civoniceva for playing for the club for 13 years on less money they he could have made elsewhere.

In support, Gold Coast co-captain Luke Bailey has labelled Brisbane's decision to terminate negotiations with veteran prop Petero Civoniceva as disgusting. And Bailey has offered to take a pay cut to help the lure his fellow Test forward to the Titans.

Bailey says he can't understand why the Broncos have recruited Penrith's Joel Clinton while Civoniceva remains the best prop in the NRL.

Brisbane withdrew a three-year, $900,000 offer to Civoniceva last week and the 31-year-old Test forward is weighing up his options. Civoniceva hopes to make a decision on his playing future by the end of the week.

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