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movements: Dragons, Panthers, Eels, Sharks
St George Illawarra skipper Trent Barrett is expected to announce today that he will quit the NRL for the English Super League next season.
The Dragons have scheduled a press conference for this morning in Wollongong, where it is anticipated Barrett will confirm he is joining Super League strugglers Wigan in 2007. Though contracted to the Dragons until the end of 2008, the 28-year-old has a clause in his contract allowing him to join an English club after this season.
As many as three Super League clubs were thought to be interested in his services, but it is believed Wigan have won the race to sign the representative five-eighth. Barrett's departure from the Dragons could help the club retain star centre Mark Gasnier, who is the target of a large offer from the Australian Rugby Union to switch codes next season.
Penrith hooker Luke Priddis says a lack of respect from club officials almost forced him out of the NRL club at the end of the season.
Priddis this week re-signed with Penrith till the end of the 2008 season, ending speculation he was bound for the Gold Coast. The sticking point through negotiations was the length of the new deal, with Priddis wanting a two-year arrangement while the Panthers originally only wanted to offer a one-year deal.
In the end the club ceded to Priddis' wishes. The former NSW State of Origin rake says he always wanted to finish his career in Penrith.
Jamie Lyon is reportedly poised to rejoin Parramatta next season despite walking out on the NRL club two years ago.
Lyon has been playing for St Helens in the Super League in England, but a deal with the Eels could be struck as soon as Monday, according to the Nine Network. The former Kangaroo centre walked out on Parramatta after the opening round of 2004 citing burnout and difficulty in adjusting to the Sydney lifestyle, returning to his hometown to play for NSW country side Wee Waa before moving on to England.
Eels CEO Denis Fitzgerald declined to comment on the issue when contacted this evening.
Former Australian prop Richard Villasanti could make a shock appearance for Cronulla in its derby against St George Illawarra after joining the NRL club yesterday.
The New Zealand Warriors today offloaded Villasanti to the Sharks, who were looking for a replacement for Ben Ross after the Queensland Origin prop sustained a season-ending knee injury last weekend. The Warriors had tried unsuccessfully to release the 25-year-old to ease their salary cap pressures earlier this year.
Although Villasanti won't arrive at the Shire club until Friday, the Sharks may draft him into first grade for the Dragons clash if prop Hutch Maiava doesn't recover from a rib injury by Saturday.