23 hours ago
The deadline looms, the rumours
Wests Tigers captain Mark O'Neill won't be offerred a playing contract for 2006 but the club want him to take a position in junior development.
Tigers recruitment manager Warren McDonnell today said O'Neill had a future at the club in administration.
"Mark has been a fantastic player for the club over a long time but it is just a time now we must keep moving forward," said McDonnell.
"We are talking seriously (to Mark) about coming into the development side and maybe in a few years he can take over my job.
"We see a long term future for him but as far as his playing days it probably won't progress with us."
McDonnell said it was up to O'Neill to decide where his playing career finished.
"If Mark wants to play he has other options. He can go to England, France or another NRL club," said McDonnell.
"We need to keep going with young blokes and to do that we have to let some people go.
"You could not get a better club man than Mark. But you cannot go with your heart all the time."
Several Tigers players come off contract this season with Anthony Laffranchi, Ben Galea, Shane Elford, Todd Payten, Matt Jobson, Matthew Reick and Robert Miles all edging closer to the open market on July 1.
Cronulla's Michael Sullivan is "90 per cent certain" of heading to England next season to join Warrington.
His manager Greg Willett said Sullivan wanted to finalise "a few details" overnight before signing tomorrow.
But Willett said Sullivan, who last week spoke candidly about beating a gambling addiction, was not in as much trouble as reported by some media.
"He does not owe millions and he is not in debt to his ears, that is all fixed up and sorted," he said.
"This deal just gets him back on track. It will be enough to buy a house. And his money will go towards property investments."
Meanwhile, player manager Jim Banaghan said Queensland utility Chris Flannery hoped to finalise a three-year deal with the Sydney Roosters.
But the plot thickens over the future of Flannery's Roosters and Queensland teammate Michael Crocker.
Although widely tipped to join Melbourne where his parents live, Crocker will begin talks with Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens on Monday.
The Tigers are Crocker's first choice if he remains in Sydney but Melbourne is still the favourite to sign the test backrower.
Melbourne centre Steve Bell has hit out at claims he has already signed a two-year deal with South Sydney.
Bell has been linked with the Rabbitohs along with good friend, Melbourne halfback Matt Orford, but said he would test the open market after June 30.
Penrith hooker Luke Priddis today said the Panthers' results this season would help him decide whether to follow teammate Preston Campbell to the Gold Coast.
"Anything's an option for me. It will probably be the last contract I sign and it's a business - anyone who doesn't treat it like a business is kidding themselves," said Priddis whose contract ends next season but has another year option.
"I will sit down at the end of the season with the family and work out what direction the club is heading and what direction I see myself heading."
Cronulla and former test prop Jason Stevens has rubbished speculation linking him with South Sydney.
The veteran of 14 first grade seasons confirmed this would "definitely" be his last NRL season.
Meanwhile, St George Illawarra backrower Corey Payne, 21, re-signed for another two years.