‘‘He thinks he can do better than the money he was offered and he is having a look. He isn’t the first footballer to do that. The attacks on him won’t break him or worry him. He is tough as. He has copped it his whole life and now he is standing up for himself.”
On Tuesday, the door was shut on Latrell Mitchell at Bondi.
For the Roosters, the view was simple. If a rival club has the money to take Mitchell for the 2020 season, he was theirs. It followed our column from last week where we told you Mitchell had all but made up his mind to go. It’s a long way from the moments straight after the club’s emotional grand final win last month.
In the minutes after full-time Mitchell had his daughter on his shoulders. She was wearing a red, white and blue dress and a giant smile. Mitchell was embracing his mum, Patricia, and his dad, Matt, had tears in his eyes as I talked to him.
“I said to him, you are 22 and not many players get to play in one grand final, let alone two,” Matt said of the moment. When I mentioned it had been a tough year for his son, Matt gushed: “The good thing about the Roosters family is they are all family. Robbo and the crew let him come home and sort things out.’’
Did he think Mitchell was staying at the Roosters?
“I hope so, I love this place.”
Fast forward a month and Trent Robinson is sitting opposite Latrell at his home in Maroubra telling him the offer is gone – $800,000 a year off the table.
Across the other side of the world Nick Politis was backing his coach, and fuming. He knows how much the club has done for Mitchell, and his family. Politis is about respect. He wasn’t feeling that from Mitchell.
Eddie has major league dream
The noise around Eddie Jones had him in line for the Wallabies coaching job — but the truth is there is another gig that he really covets.
NRL clubs take note, Jones would like a crack at rugby league at some point in his career. Even though he has one of the highest-profile and highest-paying positions in world rugby, there is a part of Jones that wants to test himself. As far as tests go, taking on an NRL job is a big one.
From what I can gather, he has told mates that taking over from Wayne Bennett when he finishes at Souths appeals. He has a soft spot for the club. It’s doubtful the Rabbitohs would be aware of his ambitions because he has only shared his league thoughts with a select few.
Souths appear to have a succession plan in mind with Jason Demetriou, who is very well regarded. However, Bennett is showing no signs of slowing down. He was brilliant this year and is ready for the challenge of being without Sam Burgess.
Jones has huge admiration for league players and loves the game. During the World Cup, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart joined the English rugby squad at Jones’ invitation. You can be certain the transfer of information was not one way. Jones would have been keen to pick the brain of Stuart, who had just guided Canberra to a grand final.
“Eddie loves his league,” Stuart said. “The way the England team played … let’s just say that I have never seen a rugby side play so similarly to a league side.”
Stuart was asked if Jones could make it as a coach in the NRL.
“I don’t know if he wants to coach in the NRL. Could he do it? I have no doubt he could if that was on his radar. To transfer a coach from code to code … well they’ve never been closer, so yes, it’s doable.”
If there was another job that was of interest to Jones in rugby, it would be with Rugby Australia — not as coach, but as CEO. It’s a whisper we heard in recent times. He has the work ethic and smarts to make that job his.
Wolfpack owner’s blind faith in SBW
Sonny Bill Williams has gone from public enemy No.1 to the shining light of world rugby – in league and union – in the space of a decade.
The transformation of the man is quite remarkable. So much so that Toronto Wolfpack owner David Argyle has put down $10million to secure him – and has never met him.
Williams’ manager Khoder Nasser is the man who put in place the biggest deal in history. And the way it happened is remarkable.
Argyle has only talked to Sonny Bill once – last Friday. It’s a move and deal that even his family have questioned.
“As they say, if you are a billionaire and you own a sporting team, you are soon not a billionaire,” Argyle said.
But Argyle’s reasoning is simple: “The rugby icon of this generation is Sonny Bill Williams … he has transcended sports. He lives a 360-degree life with family and religion and sports. He is a brand in his own right. But what he said to me on the phone – he is not here for a holiday – and that’s what I’d expect.”
And here is what he loves about Sonny’s approach.
“Sonny Bill is a disruptor, we are disruptors … you can’t play this game in black and white; you have to push the boundaries, and he does that. He has work ethic and he has the integrity we are looking for.’’
The way Sonny Bill has risen to the top of the sporting pile is amazing after at one point being despised for walking out on his Canterbury Bulldogs contract.
Now, he has a reach like no other rugby player – on Instagram alone he has close to 900,000 followers, which includes the pick of league and union’s finest. In the background is a man who has worked feverishly to guide and nurture the career of Williams – Nasser. He was blamed for the dramatic exit to Toulon from the Bulldogs, but no one gives him the praise for negotiating that Toulon deal. Then rich deals with the Roosters, All Blacks and now Toronto that have launched him to superstardom.
Along the way Nasser has shown Williams his Muslim faith, which is now such a huge part of the star’s life. Williams may have walked the path himself, but Nasser made it a lot smoother.
Mbye’s mystery illness
When Moses Mbye went into an anaphylactic shock in Perth during State of Origin it was a significant story. Rafts of tests later and still no cause has been discovered. Mbye has no allergies and he doesn’t know what set it off.
“That can be the case quite often,” Mbye said. “At least that’s what I have been told.’’ The result is that Mbye now carries an epipen – an epinephrine auto-injector – wherever he goes. His wife has one. The club doctor carries one. He is ready in case it happens again.
“It’s not great not knowing what is going on, but there is nothing I can do about it,” he said.
Hasler’s good deeds
If you want to understand why players love Des Hasler, look no further than his actions this week. Without fuss, he went to visit Manase Fainu with the young hooker’s parents. He didn’t have to do it and certainly didn’t want publicity for it. But that’s Hasler.
This is the same coach who went to Manly police station on the night that Dylan Walker was in strife. Hasler drove Walker out. Not his parents. Not the CEO. The coach.
It’s why the Manly players put aside Trent Barrett being put on gardening leave and achieved so much last season. Some were not happy the club sidelined Barrett – including Jake and Tom Trbojevic. They were close to him. There were whispers coming out of the Barrett camp that the Trbojevics and others would follow Barrett wherever he went. But, after working with Hasler, they fell for him. Hasler negotiated the Trbojevic deal, and both brothers are more than happy that their futures are sorted out.
Broncos management either don’t know or don’t care about the dominance of player agent Isaac Moses at their club. The Broncos appointed Corey Parker as an assistant to Anthony Seibold. Parker is an advocate of Moses and has been telling Broncos players to join up with his management group.
It was reported in the Sun-Herald in September that the NRL is keen to clamp down on the practice of managers having players and coaches on their books due to potential conflicts of interest.
At the time, we wrote that there’s a belief some clubs are being pressured to take players they may not necessarily want because their coach – perhaps at the behest of their manager – is pushing for them to be signed.
Any change would have huge ramifications for some of the game’s most influential managers.
The rumblings out of Storm HQ is they still need to lose $400,000 or so off their cap. That’s the salary of a star player and why the talk of Josh Addo-Carr moving to Sydney has emerged.
Danny Weidler is a sport columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.