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Norman-Widdop swap deal torpedoed before it even got off the ground

Norman has been dropped for the Roosters clash, a bitter blow given he was representing Queensland this time last year. However, coach Paul McGregor denied the club was trying to force him out.

“The first time he hasn’t been picked in 18 months at the club and we’re talking about Gareth coming back already,” McGregor said. “That’s too unfair at this raw stage to even talk about it. And it hasn’t been mentioned to me with the recruitment either.

Corey Norman won't be switching places with Gareth Widdop.

Corey Norman won’t be switching places with Gareth Widdop.Credit:Getty Images

“I have not been told anything about that and it’s just so unfair to the player, in Corey, that’s here. We want Corey to play well this year.”

However, it appears at least one Dragon will be moving on at the end of the season. Saab has been granted permission to explore his options elsewhere for next year despite being contracted until the end of 2022.

The winger asked for a release on compassionate grounds on several occasions and the Dragons finally agreed to allow him to test the market at the end of the season.

“There’s never any bad blood between the club and myself,” Saab said. “Whenever I go out there I love playing for the Red V. It’s just unfortunate my circumstance with what’s going on away from footy is not really working out.

“That’s an ongoing process, but when I cross the white line, nothing else matters.

“We were able to sit down and have a chat about it – it was a good, long chat. It was a bit daunting, but it is what it is.

“At the end of the day, if you’re not happy off the field, you won’t be happy on it.

“It’s kind of like a marriage that didn’t work out, that sort of situation.”

Saab has made just four NRL appearances this year, taking his total to seven. The 19-year-old, who commutes from Merrylands to Wollongong daily for training, is stuck behind flankers Mikaele Ravalawa and Jordan Pereira.

“I always stress the fact that we get paid to throw a footy around; I don’t want to come across as ungrateful,” he said.

“I’m extremely grateful to do what I’m doing, but with the family situation, that comes first. I’m doing what’s best for myself and my siblings, most importantly.”

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While he can now negotiate with rival clubs, Saab hasn’t totally ruled out playing for the Dragons next year.

“At this point, I know what I want to do, but I couldn’t tell you what happens at the end of the year. It could go either way,” he said. “I’ll deal with that when the time comes.”

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