Gardner to Bulldogs?
The Sharks' boom full-back Nathan Gardner is in the sights of the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Last year's grand finalists are almost $200,000 under the salary cap following the recent retirement of veteran forward Corey Payne. Coach Des Hasler is rumoured to be interested in Gardner as 'insurance' for the sidelined Ben Barba.
Dally M champion Barba is out indefinitely – and Hasler has named specialist winger Steve Turner to replace him in Round 1 against the Cowboys. Gardner has been chosen in Cronulla's NSW Cup side this weekend, losing his No.1 jersey from last year to new signing Michael Gordon.
The talented Gardner had a lean time last season, playing just six NRL matches for the Sharks, and may be interested in a change of colours. Whether coach Shane Flanagan would let him go, however, remains to be seen.
Raiders come to blows
It's been a lively off season in Canberra, with two forwards coming to blows after a heated exchange off the field. The points were clearly taken by the older player, a representative star, who was too talented for his opponent, a newcomer to the club. Officials are aware of the altercation and have ensured the pair shook hands and made up prior to this weekend's opening-round clash with the Panthers.
Salary cap still an issue for Manly
Manly may have finally registered the contract of star full-back Brett Stewart last week, but the Sea Eagles are still having salary cap problems. The club have attempted to offload two of its representative forwards – Jamie Buhrer and George Rose – in recent weeks. A couple of clubs expressed interest in the pair, but declined to take it any further. In between, the Sea Eagles have signed Tom Symonds from the Roosters, but the Bondi club will pay some of his contract.
Eels' membership bungle
There were some red faces out Parramatta way last week when the club started a new membership drive. Thousands of Parramatta residents were mailed a brochure with a picture of a group of young Eels fans on the cover. And right in the middle of the picture were two sons of former Parramatta chief executive Paul Osborne, who left the club in controversial circumstances late in 2011.
Titans under the pump
Steve Price is the coach most under the pump as we head into season 2013 but John Cartwright has good reason to sweat - and not just because of the balmy Gold Coast weather. After missing the finals two years running, the pressure is on 'Carty' to deliver. But he may have his work cut out, particularly with NRL problem child Albert Kelly running things at No.7. Punters obviously think it's going to be a long season, with Betfair reporting massive movement ($13.50 into $6.80) for the Titans to collect the wooden spoon.