Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
The Bulldogs have withdrawn their latest offer of a new contract to Nigel Vagana, prolonging the stalemate between the Kiwis' star centre and the National Rugby League (NRL) title contenders.
An offer, thought to be about $A300,000 ($NZ342,000) a season, was pulled last weekend, with management now focusing on signing up other key players including fellow New Zealanders Willie Talau, Roy Asotasi, plus Luke Patten, Glenn Hall and Travis Norton.
"Our offer was withdrawn on Saturday, and it was our best offer," Bulldogs chief executive officer Steve Mortimer said.
Ominously he added: "And the more we sign up other players the harder it will be to keep Nigel under the salary cap."
Mortimer thought Vagana ? the NRL's leading try scorer for the last two seasons ? would like to stay at the club.
"Despite all the speculation about England, I think Nigel sees Australia as his home," Mortimer said.
Vagana's chances of staying may hinge on what his club and international centre partner Talau decides to do next.
Talau is also out of contract at the end of the season and he is also thought to be considering English Super League offers.
Meanwhile, Vagana's manager Gavin Orr said he would be happy for the club to come back with a new proposal.
"Things are at a standstill and until then there's nothing more to discuss," Orr said.
Despite the standoff, Vagana will play in the centres against the Wests Tigers on Saturday, while Talau is still unavailable through injury.