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Xerri bomb: Banned NRL star eyes NFL switch

Xerri has talked about his NFL ambition with his advisors and lawyers who say he has no legal issues when it comes to giving it a go. There is no question he has the physical prowess to challenge for a start; it will come down to how much he wants to do it.

V’landys to have final say on Hayne honours

The ARL Commission is split over whether to strip Jarryd Hayne of his Dally M Medals and other honours after the issue was strongly debated last week.

He was found guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent on March 22.

Those who were at the commission meeting told me the debate about removing Hayne’s personal honours went around in circles and they are going to reassess the situation after he is sentenced on May 6. The judge in Hayne’s case described his prospects of a jail sentence as inevitable. Hayne said he intends to appeal the convictions.

It could come down to the opinion of chairman Peter V’landys. His strongly held view is that NRL players are more than just sportsmen, they are role models. That is also the view of NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo. Hayne’s already significant fall from grace in the game may have some way to go.

Hayne is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game, having won the Dally M Medal twice, in 2009 and 2014. He was the game’s rookie of the year in 2006 and made the team of the year three times. Hayne also won the Brad Fittler Medal as NSW player of the year a record three times (2007, 2008 and 2014).

The person who shared the Dally M with Hayne in 2014, Johnathan Thurston, did not want to comment. Thurston has huge empathy for the victim, but he wasn’t prepared to offer an opinion other than to say, “I’ll leave it to the NRL”.

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Brad Fittler also refused to comment. He also does not want to be consulted by the NRL when a decision is made on whether to strip Hayne of the medals that bear his name. Fittler won’t go public with his views. No one knows how Hayne’s victim is coping. Her family has also remained quiet since Hayne’s conviction.

The person with the greatest link to the Dally M Medal, Dally Messenger III, told this column Hayne should keep his medals, even though he obviously doesn’t condone what Hayne did. He sent me this message.

“Historians have always recognised that accurate assessments require a person’s good and bad deeds go on the record,” he said. “Changing or clouding facts to punish someone further does no service to anyone. King David in the Bible is a case in point. He committed a detestable crime, but he also did good things. It is all on the record. Though not comparable to the case in point, but still worth noting, when Dally Messenger changed from union to league, the rugby union whited his face out of group photographs because he had committed the ‘crime’ of professionalism and had rejected his amateur status.”

Reynolds deal could force Walker out

The Adam Reynolds contract situation at South Sydney is in part an issue of the club’s making because it bowed to fan power and re-signed favourite son Alex Johnston last year. Souths had budgeted for Johnston to be off their books and the money they’ve paid him could have been used to help keep Reynolds.

The Rabbitohs know signing Reynolds will make it hard for them to keep his halves partner, Cody Walker, who will be looking for a new deal come November. The club has already told this column it can’t keep Dane Gagai and Reynolds.

The Rabbitohs’ reluctance to re-sign Reynolds on a long-term deal has led many people to wonder if there is more to it. There is. The board and chairman Nick Pappas are making a statement that this is how Souths do business now that Shane Richardson is not at the club.

There is no question that ego is playing a role in the way the Reynolds situation is being handled. Pappas and Richardson fell out over the manner in which Sam Burgess was medically retired and paid out. The new regime is doing it their way to make a point. Souths are using John Sutton and his willingness to do a year-by-year deal as the new benchmark.

Keith Titmuss died after a preseason training session with Manly. He had just been elevated into the NRL top 30 squad.

Keith Titmuss died after a preseason training session with Manly. He had just been elevated into the NRL top 30 squad.Credit:NRL Photos

Eagles rocked

When you watch the way Manly are performing you can’t discount the effect the tragic passing of Keith Titmuss has had on the players. The 20-year-old collapsed and suffered a seizure following a pre-season training session and later died in hospital.

Many of Titmuss’ best mates were there and watched it happen.

The significant impact it had on the training staff is also still being felt. It is not the main reason for the Sea Eagles’ dreadful 0-4 start to the season, but you need to remember the effect his death has had on vulnerable young men.

Daly Cherry-Evans is the easy target at Manly because of his position and pay packet. It has even led to rumours of a switch to Canterbury to play under his old coach, Trent Barrett. That story is not coming from DCE. Cherry-Evans wants to lead Manly out of their slump, not look for a new start. He is committed to staying with Manly and seeing the club through this tough patch.

Sliding rules

The new 18th man concussion rule approved by the ARL Commission this week has prompted some worrying questions about the way head knocks are diagnosed.

Whispers from within the NRL suggest a spike in head injury assessments is due not to the faster game, but a tougher stance by club doctors. The theory goes that club medicos are being ultra-conservative and are more likely to stop players returning to the field after a head knock than in past seasons. If true, that should send a shiver through any players who previously passed their HIAs and were allowed to go back on the field. If doctors have raised the bar for returning to the field it suggests that some players in the past were allowed back when they probably should have stayed in the sheds.

A number of coaches and chief executives are concerned that the commission is operating at breakneck speed. It is being described as a “rule change of the week” following the introduction of the 18th man after the Sharks lost three players to concussions last weekend. But the solution – using an “emerging player” as a replacement, who can take the field only after three players have failed their HIA – is window dressing. The view is the new rule will never be used.

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And if it is, it will not help a team battered by injuries to have a work experience player fill in.

The game’s bosses should have simply come and said what we know – that they are covering their backsides to help mitigate potential future legal issues. That’s good business and it is also far more palatable.

Wests slide story

Wests Tigers are never far away from drama, and behind the scenes there is an issue at board level. Respected former Magpie Mick Liubinskas has lost his position on the board. The Magpies part of the joint venture is not happy.

The Todd father

For as long as I’ve known Todd Carney, fatherhood has always been a dream for the former star. Lion Daryl Carney was born on March 27. Congratulations.

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