The Sydney Roosters gather around champion five-eighth Luke Keary as the three-time premiership winner deals with his latest battle with concussion.
The Roosters have long been considered the standard club when it comes to dealing with players who have been repeatedly hit in the head.
Champion backrower, NSW and Australian captain Boyd Cordner was forced into early retirement early last season, as was co-captain and Tricolor’s favorite son Jake Friend.
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Keary is the latest Roosters star to face a challenging crossroads after suffering his most recent headbutt in the round 14 loss to the Melbourne Storm.
The Roosters are taking a cautious approach with the hugely popular pivot, with the club hoping the 2018 Clive Churchill medalist will be available for the round 18 match against St George Illawarra on the Central Coast.
With the Rooster scheduled for a bye after Friday night’s blockbuster against Prime Minister Penrith in Round 16, it means Keary can get some valuable breathing room.
The timeline means that Keary will have a full month of rest from heavy contact and will be able to do any necessary medical tests.
The Roosters are known for sparing no expense in this space and will ensure that Keary receives the best medical advice available.
Best-case scenario, Keary makes a full recovery and returns to try and lead the Chooks to this year’s finals.
One of the other alternatives is for the Roosters to look into a medical retirement – a path no one at the club wants to see Keary take.
Keary is still signed to the Roosters through the end of 2024 on a deal believed to be worth about $850,000 per season.
So it’s a big decision with two years left on his current contract.
If the three-time premiership winner is forced to retire, the Roosters will have to pay out his contract, but it will not be included in the club’s salary cap.
The NRL should approve any medical retirement, but given Keary’s well-documented history of concussion, it’s unlikely there would be any problems.
The Roosters remain hopeful that the club’s favorite son will soon return to the arena to guide the Tricolors to the final.
BLUES COUPLE THAT MUST BURN TO BREAK SUNCORP HOODOO
The last time the NSW Blues orchestrated a series win at Suncorp Stadium was in 2005 when playmaking champion Joey Johns and Danny Buderus were in their best careers.
It might be 17 years later, but there’s an argument that Blues pair Nathan Cleary and Api Korisau are in a similar shape from the back of State of Origin II — and it will be necessary.
The Maroons at home will be a very different proposition from the Queensland side, who were outplayed extensively in the second half in Perth by the Felise Kaufusi sin-binning and NSW with 61 percent possession.
There’s also no way Cameron Munster will be as quiet as he was in the last 40 minutes of Origin II – even if he has an AC joint injury meaning he will miss Thursday’s game between the Melbourne Storm and Manly.
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BURGESS UNVEILS $1M GAL OFFER
England international James Graham is quickly making a name for himself as a multimedia star.
Articulated, funny and quick with a left-wing mindset, Graham is a regular on Fox Legaue’s NRL360, Triple M’s Sunday Sin Bin and is now also embarking on a podcast project titled The Bye Round With James Graham.
In the final episode, Graham sits down with great friend Sam Burgess – the fellow England international with whom he famously closed the horns in the 2014 NRL final.
It’s a great listening experience with Burgess revealing at one point that he was offered $1 million to fight retired NSW Captain Paul Gallen in the boxing ring.
“No, I won’t get into the boxing ring,” Burgess said.
“I was offered to fight Gallen. I said no at first and then the contract came again.
“And I said ‘no’. And then the contracts came again and I liked the contract.
“Six minutes of work, it was three rounds of two minutes.
“But it was a different decision I would make based on money.
“The $1 million would have been nice, but in the long run the costs would have outweighed the benefits.
“I have a stop in my left shoulder. No joke, I tried to train a little bit, but I would have taken the boxing out of the closet.
“I think it probably would have been a bit disrespectful to all the boxers who are struggling.
“I would have been paid more than all of them. I appreciate what they do.
“I’m not going to make a career out of it. I grab and just grab a mil.”
GUS PROVIDES AIR WITH DISSATISFIED SPONSOR
Canterbury boss Phil Gould has broken bread with the powerful Laundy family, the main sponsor of Bulldogs.
The Laundys were initially unimpressed when they were unaware that Trent Barrett was leaving the club.
Gould has since had a chat with family patriarch Arthur Laundy and the relationship is extremely strong again.
Hotel baron Laundy was the architect who initially threw Gus back into Belmore’s lap to rectify the club’s continuing poor results.
The Laundys are now in negotiations to extend their term as the main sponsor in Canterbury-Bankstown.
The next challenge for the Bulldogs will be a way to try and keep NSW State of Origin center Matt Burton beyond next year.
The Laundys were instrumental in bringing Burton to Belmore, with Arthur traveling to his hometown of Dubbo to meet his parents.
Burton’s management have told the Bulldogs that he will not use the option in his contract for a third season at Canterbury-Bankstown in 2024 until he knows who will be the club’s new coach.
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HANSEN PUT VIEWS ON COWBOYS FLYER
Matt Lodge isn’t the only forward the Sydney Roosters have cracked their recruiting numbers on.
Queensland Origin backrower and North Queensland Cowboys forward Jeremiah Nanai is the latest up and coming talent the Chooks have on their radar.
Nanai, who has made just 17 NRL appearances, has caught fire with the Cowboys this season to the point where Billy Slater had no hesitation in taking him straight to the Queensland Maroons set-up for the Origin series.
Earlier in the season, many clubs lined up for Nanai, until he extended a one-year contract with the Cowboys until the end of 2023.
The Cowboys forward will be back as a free agent from Nov. 1, and the Roosters have designated the out-of-the-box backrower as a priority tally.
Only 19, Nanai has shown an erratic talent for positioning himself to score, trying to score 11 four-pointers in just 13 games this season.
TIGERS’ FIVE STAR PR MOVE
SPOTTED: The Wests Tigers on a charm offensive with selected media at the famous rugby league lunch venue Grappa in Leichhardt.
Tigers football director Tim Sheens and chairman Lee Hagipantelis organized a handful of journos on Tuesday as the club tries to improve its image.
The Tigers embarked on a similar drill at the same venue earlier this year – the irony being that previous head coach Michael Maguire was also in attendance.
Grappa is known as the alternative Rugby League Central to some of the biggest names in the game.
Owner Charlie Colosi is known for rolling out the red carpet with his signature slow cooked lamb shoulder or the tagliolini pasta with WA crab meat, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, chili and parsley.
Charlie, ever the quality host, always insists on a limoncello at the end of every meal?
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