NRL is keeping a close eye on Staggs
Brisbane star Kotoni Staggs has reached a pivotal point in his career. Not only is Staggs attempting to return from a knee reconstruction, but he is off contract at the end of the season and receiving attention from the NRL for all the wrong reasons.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo and the integrity unit are rightly concerned given recent events involving the 22-year-old. First, Staggs was fined by the NRL last year after being part of a group of Broncos players who breached biosecurity protocols.
Then he was given a breach notice for allegedly making a homophobic slur to a man in Dubbo. As a result, Abdo and representatives of the integrity unit want to meet Staggs before he returns to warn him he could put his career at risk unless he starts getting his act together off the field.
Weekend Read understands that Staggs has been on the radar of the integrity unit for some time and they would hate to see him waste his talent. At the same time, they want Staggs to understand that there will be serious consequences for any future misdemeanours.
Abdo is keen to deliver the message in person to ensure it hits the mark. Staggs' career may hinge on how he reacts. Against that backdrop, Staggs has become one of the hottest properties on the open market.
It is understood the chasing pack is led by Parramatta, who have targeted Staggs as the man to fill the spot in the centres vacated by Michael Jennings.
Jennings remains provisionally suspended after failing a drug test and the Eels need to start planning for the future. Staggs is seen as the ideal replacement, although the Eels face competition from far and wide.
That said, the Broncos haven't given up hope of holding onto Staggs, although his future just became a little harder to decipher following revelations that his agent Isaac Moses had his accreditation taken away by the NRL.
Parramatta and other clubs are no longer able to deal directly with Moses, although his company can still conduct negotiations on behalf of Staggs. Clubs were told to steer clear of Moses via an email on Friday morning but you only had to look at the shenanigans surrounding Israel Folau to realise that losing your accreditation isn't a death sentence.
Wayne Beavis was the man who shopped Folau around the NRL and he remains a mover and shaker in the game despite allowing his accreditation to lapse in the wake of the Parramatta salary cap scandal. The NRL felt aggrieved enough to warn St George Illawarra against dealing with Beavis, who hasn't attempted to regain his accreditation in the years since the Eels scandal.
To do so would mean submitting himself to an interview and responding to allegations around his handling of former client Jarryd Hayne. Beavis clearly has no interest in reliving the past.
Moses, however, has been given hope that he can find a way back to the NRL. It is understood that provided he keeps his nose clean, there is every chance he can reapply for accreditation and have his case considered as soon as next year.
Foxtel boss backs expansion
Expansion has been all the buzz this week and the NRL's plan to add a second team in Brisbane retains the unwavering support of Foxtel boss Patrick Delany.
Delany first advocated the addition of a new team 12 months ago and he reiterated his stance earlier this week when he spoke to Weekend Read at the launch of a new Telstra and Kayo partnership.
"Nothing has changed," Delany told Weekend Read. "The two major markets for the NRL are Sydney and Brisbane. Clearly Brisbane is a big city and only has one team.
"So I am a supporter. I haven't spoken to the NRL about it. I need to catch up with Andrew (Abdo) and Peter (V'landys) on it.
"I have been on the record for a long time saying a second team in Brisbane is a good idea."
Foxtel extended their deal with the NRL last year until the end of 2027 but it is understood the contract has a clause that caters for fresh talks should the competition expand to 17 teams.
"The negotiations between all the sports codes are living negotiations," Delany said.
"They never seem to end. I can't remember what the deal says but I think there is always great opportunity to continue to continue to discuss agreements going forward with the NRL and AFL.
"I have also been on the record saying if we can get more of either, we would like more. We just want to be a bigger partner."
The prospect of expansion was only briefly raised at a chief executives meeting this week. It is understood at least one club questioned whether a new team would need to pay a licensing fee to join the competition.
American sports typically demand an expansion fee from new franchises. The Houston Texans paid $700 million to join the NFL in 2002. The Charlotte Bobcats paid $300 million to join the NBA.
The NRL told the clubs that would be a decision for the ARL Commission.
Pappas primed for change
South Sydney chair Nick Pappas has long been earmarked for the ARL Commission and it appears the day is fast approaching when he will leave his beloved Rabbitohs and accept the challenge.
Pappas has been Rabbitohs chair for nearly two decades but he was also one of the architects of the commission and powerful figures in the game want him to join the body.
Their cause was helped when the clubs and states voted to reduce the stand-down rule to one year, meaning Pappas would need to spend 12 months out of clubland before joining the commission.
That appears a lot more palatable than the previous three year period. Ultimately, his future may hinge on how Souths perform this year. If the Rabbitohs have a good year and win a premiership, as many expect, Pappas may be tempted to call it a day and hone in on the commission.
Souths' loss would be the NRL's gain. The belief is that Pappas would be the ideal chair for the commission when Peter V'landys decides it is time to walk away.
Brown under pump as Eels wait for answer
Nathan Brown has a two-year extension on the table from Parramatta and time is running out to take it up.
Brown, who made his State of Origin debut last season, is off contract at the end of 2021 and his management has indicated another Sydney club is interested in his services.
The Eels believe their offer is a fair one. Brown's current contract pays him about $620,000 and the extension is believed to be worth about $1.2 million over two years.
Although on face value it represents a slight dip, it has to be remembered that the salary cap was reduced late last year after negotiations with the players.
As a result, Brown has actually received a healthy pay rise. The Eels want the deal done as soon as possible because they are juggling numerous balls.
Winger Maika Sivo is being shopped around the NRL, although the asking price has scared off the Eels' rivals. Halfback Mitchell Moses also has an option in his contract for next season, which effectively means he can explore interest for 2022.
Weekend Read understands Moses' preference is to stay, but any decision is likely to hinge on how the club views his future. Coach Brad Arthur's son Jake has been training with the first grade squad over the off-season and is viewed as a future No 7, although he is still in his teens.
Originally published as Why the NRL is keeping a close eye on Staggs