Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan and Dragons counterpart Jayden Sullivan have been put forward in a potential player swap to help both club’s playmaking issues.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the mooted player swap has put prospective Bulldogs coach and current Dragons recruitment committee member Shane Flanagan in an awkward position.
Flanagan is considered the favourite to be named the Bulldogs next head coach, with a reunion with son Kyle on the cards, but a player swap with Sullivan would put an end to that possibility.
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Flanagan junior is contracted until the end of 2023, while Sullivan is signed with the Dragons until the end of 2025.
20-year-old Sullivan is stuck behind Ben Hunt at the Dragons and may have to leave to get more game time in his preferred halfback position after playing mainly hooker off the bench in his 10 NRL games to date.
23-year-old Flanagan has scored six tries and 288 points in his 49 NRL games, but has only played 20 games since joining the Bulldogs in 2021 from the Roosters.
Flanagan has failed to cement his spot as the Bulldogs’ halfback and there are doubts if he is the club’s long-term solution at No.7.
Hunt is likely to re-sign with the Dragons and has shown he prefers to play in the No.7 jersey rather than at hooker.
That would prevent Sullivan playing halfback if he stays and Flanagan from doing the same if he joins the Dragons in a swap deal.
EELS SET TO POACH PANTHERS GUN
The Parramatta Eels have reportedly poached Penrith Panthers young gun J’maine Hopgood in a boost to their depleted forward stocks for 2023.
“I think they (the Parramatta Eels) will trumpet something pretty soon,” Proszenko said on SEN radio.
“We know they are looking to bolster their forward stocks, with the departure of Isaiah Papali’I and Marata Niukore. There is also a little bit of a question mark about whether Ryan Matterson will stay long-term.
“The club are very keen to keep him, but they obviously have some holes to fill, and I’ll put it to you that one of those holes will be filled by J’maine Hopgood from their arch rivals the Penrith Panthers.
“In the little time that he has been in the top grade, Brad Arthur has seen more than enough to think he is someone who will add some value to the side.
“They have been in talks for a while. There were a few other clubs who were interested. The Bulldogs were quite keen when Trent Barrett was there, but he will end up at Parramatta.”
The 23-year-old has played seven games for the Panthers since his debut in 2021.
BRONCOS GUN WANTS FULLBACK SPOT
Broncos young gun Herbie Farnworth has declared he wants the No.1 jersey after signing a new one-year deal to remain at Red Hill.
The 19-year-old’s ambition puts him in direct competition with Broncos sensation Selwyn Cobbo, who is seen as a future fullback, and Te Maire Martin who has stepped into the full back role following Tesi Niu’s hamstring injury.
Farnworth, who was chased by several NRL clubs including the Dolphins before signing a new deal, has also started working one-on-one with Broncos legend Darius Boyd in a bid to hone his skills at fullback.
“We agreed on the one year (deal) and fullback is the position I want to play in the future,” Farnworth told the Courier Mail.
“I have spoken to ‘Kevvie’ (coach Kevin Walters) about it, I would like to play fullback next year and learn that spot.
“This year I am focused on centre and winning games and helping out the team.”
Broncos legend and club board member Darren Lockyer, said Farnworth’s signing was validation of the improvements the club has made.
“Herbie at the start of the year, we were keen to retain him,” he told Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.
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“We knew the Dolphins were chasing him, as were other clubs.
“I think we were keen to secure him in the pre-season – he wanted to wait and I think that was really to see if he thinks the club is heading in the right direction.
Lockyer, however, issued a warning to Farnworth over his bid to play fullback.
“There’s an ambition there from Herbie to want to play fullback and I think the club is willing to give him an opportunity, maybe in the off-season to train there and try and develop himself.
“He’s signed a one-year deal. There are no guarantees Herbie’s going to be the No.1 next year.
“He’s a quality player that he’s at least going to be playing left centre for the Broncos between now and when he comes up for his next contract negotiations.”
Rugby league legend Laurie Daley, meanwhile, was adamant that the Broncos should be looking at Selwyn Cobbo as their long-term fullback.
“I think depending on how he (Farnworth) goes he could well be the long-term fullback for the Broncos but you’ve got a guy there, Selwyn Cobbo,” Daley told Sky Racing’s Big Sport Breakfast.
“I don’t know what position Selwyn Cobbo will end up at. But he’s got the skillset required to play fullback and he’s got the skillset required to play centre.
”Wherever he plays and the way he’s developing at the moment, he’s a getting a reputation which is earned by talent but also what you’re doing out there on the field. He could slot into any position in this backline for the Broncos.
“He’ll either be most effective at one or in the centres, so what do you do with him? If he’s got his heart set on playing fullback as well you look at him and Herbie Farnworth and I’d probably look at both and go, Cobbo for me is the one I’m sticking with .
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“He’s 19 years of age. he’s a massive kid and he’s only going to get bigger and stronger and you see him turning into that Latrell Mitchell type player. Greg Inglis type. Speed, size, catch, fend. Whatever you’re looking for, he’s got.
“Herbie Farnworth is playing some good footy at the moment in the centres but for me personally if Selwyn Cobbo wants to play fullback and has got his heart set on that I’d be giving him first opportunity over Herbie.”
While prospective Maroon Selwyn Cobbo stands as a roadblock in the way of Farnworth’s fullback intentions, the 22-year-old is excited for a tough contest for the number one jumper in the 2023 pre-season.
“I haven’t thought about that one,” Farnworth said.
“Selwyn Cobbo is enjoying it on the wing at the moment, I haven’t spoken to him about it, but he’s a good mate of mine and it will be a good battle if he wanted to be fullback.
“Darius is one of the best fullbacks of all-time, having him here, being close to him and learning off him was definitely a big sell. I am pretty keen to work with him in pre-season (on fullback play).
“Physically, I would suit that position. I played that position in my juniors and since I was 18 or 19 I played on the edges. I would be willing to work hard with ‘Darbs’ and the coaching staff, I could be a good fullback for this club.
“If Selwyn puts his hand up for the spot, it will be a good battle in the pre-season for the fullback spot for sure.”