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Cameron Munster, Latrell Mitchell, Wayne Bennett, Dolphins, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dragons, Ben Hunt

You have to hand it to West Tigers for trying to think outside the box. Online Wests Tigers plan to make a bold move to sign NRL player of the year Cameron Munster to secure the club’s first-ever wooden spoon.

Yes, you read that right, the Tigers are about to throw their hat in the ring against Queensland and Australia’s five-eighths.

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As we’ve heard, the Tigers are talking Munster about a five-year, $7 million deal aimed at blowing the Melbourne Hurricanes and Dolphins out of the water.

On the back of a 70-run drubbing by the Sydney Roosters, it’s clear the ailing club are in need of a circuit breaker.

Sure Api Korisau and maybe Isaias Papalii will come next year but the Tigers will have to find a hell of a lot on the open market to fix the club’s current woes.

The 27-year-old is the type of key signing that could help Munster stop the rot at Concorde.

You can’t blame them for dreaming – remember the Tigers recently snapped up Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco – but it’s unlikely to happen at Buckley and it’s slim.

“Pressure on Munster now!” | 01:10

The Tigers have an open checkbook for 2024 with top 30 players including Adam Doehy, Luke Brooks, Jackson Hastings, Dane Lawrie, Sean Bloor, Joe Ofahengawe, Alex Seyfarth and Tuki Simpkins.

Incoming Tigers coach Tim Sheens has arguably the biggest challenge of his illustrious rugby league career as he tries to fix the Bunn struggle that is Concord.

The club’s succession plan, which will see Benji Marshall take over as head coach at least until 2025, is guaranteed to give the West Tigers some traction in terms of out-of-contract players.

The last five-year deal the Tigers floated was for incoming Canterbury-Bankstown head coach Cameron Ciraldo.

The danger of this Munster game ends in the same result. Thank you, but thank you.

Prime Minister Paulo’s call

The South Sydney Rabbitohs are saddened by the death of legendary Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the Woolies.

And last weekend the Prime Minister took the unusual step of picking up the phone to call South Sydney flyer Jackson Paulo.

Paulo became the subject of all sorts of hilarious jabber-jabber on social media after the Round 23 Premier League defeat to Penrith.

Amongst the crowd, some mobsters have gone as far as making death threats.

seriously?

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Anyway, the new Prime Minister sighed at how ridiculously vitaminic some of the carriers he was carrying were and picked up the phone.

It’s been a busy weekend for the Prime Minister, seen downing beers as a group of youngsters explore the Enmore Theatre.

It’s all part of Bunis’ internal relay landscape over the past 15 years.

We are old enough to remember the day’s champion, South Sydney patriarch George Piggins, and club legends Bob McCarthy and John Sattler led 100,000 people through the streets of Sydney to protest the club’s return to the NRL.

Nowadays, the Browns’ dressing room has undergone a radical transformation, with celebrities and political types joining the likes of Prime Minister Albo, owners Russell Crowe and tech billionaire and electric car fan Mike Cannon-Brookes.

The dragon splits

St George Illawarra decision-makers are quietly starting to question the state of the Red V’s dressing room.

There is no official review but we are told that influential types at the Dragons are hitting the phones to try and get a read on where the club is.

The Dragons board have taken the unusual step of extending coach Anthony Griffin’s contract until the end of 2023, backing themselves into overdrive.

From everything we’ve heard, Red V’s dressing room is about as far from a united camp as you can get.

We’re not sure if Rookie CEO Ryan Webb was on a week’s annual vacation earlier this month due to recent developments.

There is also a view Webb, football general manager Ben Haran and head coach Griffin are all blinkered in terms of where the club is.

All of this leads the St George Illawarra board to make a bold decision next month to determine the best direction for the club.

Will they admit their mistake in extending Griffin and go in a different direction?

Or do they go into business as usual in 2023 and then the playing squad to get results to ensure the safety of the coach?

Premiership-winning coach Sean Flanagan is currently working as the Dragons’ list management consultant and there are those in the red V who believe he would be the most suitable candidate to take over as head coach of St George Illawarra.

Whether or not that can happen remains to be seen, but there is no question that Flanagan can coach.

Ben Hunt’s contract situation is also an issue as the club could lose young gun Jayden Sullivan if they re-enter the half-back long-term for 2024 and 2025.

The Dragons are trying to extend Ben Hunt.Source: Getty Images

The Bulldogs have been sitting back and watching Haden’s situation with interest and are ready to make a play if the opportunity presents itself.

This is in no way a knock on Hunt, who has been outstanding for St George Illawarra and Queensland this year and there is no question he will be part of the Kangaroos’ 24-man squad for the upcoming World Cup.

There is also a strong argument that the Dragons boss will wait until November 1 to make a decision on his next contract, considering Hunt to be the strongest chance of winning the Dally M Medal.

But after hearing that Hunt is extremely happy at the club, and with the release clause in his new pay-per-view contract being added, the prospect of him rejoining the Dragons for another two seasons looks good.

Penrith ribbon squeeze

Premiers Penrith are starting to get a real indication of how difficult it is to keep a title-winning roster together.

Key players Nathan Cleary, Isah Yeo, Dylan Edwards and Jarome Lui have been locked up for the long haul, but there are plenty of notables the club will try hard to keep.

NSW players Stephen Crichton, Brian Too and Liam Martin are out of contract at the end of 2023, as are gunslingers Scott Sorensen and Spencer Leneuve.

The premiership-winning list is trying to identify with Martin the latest player to be targeted by rival NRL clubs.

Panthers center Crichton is another player that clubs are lining up to sign, with the prospect of playing the fastest player who scored the winning try as a fullback in last year’s grand final.

BELLAMY’S GENIUS

You can’t help but admire the way Craig Bellamy has once again underlined that he is one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.

A month ago, even three-time premiership winner Bellamy said he wasn’t sure he had found the answer to breaking out of a season slump when the Purple Ridge won four games in a row.

Since then, Hurricanes coach Cameron Munster has switched to fullback and played Nelson Asofa-Solomona on the right wing in the absence of Philise Kaufisi and suddenly Melbourne has come alive.

The Round 24 clash with the Sydney Roosters at AAMI Park marks a grand finale to the early rivalry between the two clubs over the past decade.

In addition to the superstar match-ups on the field, there is also a tactical showdown in the coaches’ box between Bellamy and three-time premiership winner Trent Robinson.

The two players have played on 20 occasions, Bellamy winning 13 and Robinson leading seven.

Bellyache has also won their last five straight fights and six of their last nine games.

South Fum in Wayne

South Sydney super coach Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins have clearly targeted star fullback Latrell Mitchell in a $4 million deal for the NRL’s 17th team.

The Rabbitohs have questioned whether the coach who led the Redfern outfit to the 2021 Grand Final is trying to create instability in his former club’s run to the final.

Bennett sparked a contract fire around Mitchell on Tuesday after the seven-time premiership winner missed out on the signing of Queensland five-eighth Cameron Munster.

Listen to the full Jackson Hastings interview on the Fox League podcast

Dolphins split between Munster & Latrell | 04:09

The Dolphins are reportedly prepared to offer Mitchell a four-year deal worth around $4 million after November 1 if they fail to sign the Melbourne Storm maestro.

But South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly has recalled Bennett on the eve of the Rabbitohs finals, with keeping Mitchell the Browns’ top priority.

Solly told Fox Sports: “Unlike Radcliffe, we’ve made it clear that Latrell is our priority along with the other senior players we have at the club.

“We want everyone to stay here at Redfern. They have contributed greatly to our success both on and off the field in recent years.

“We think there’s a lot of career ahead of them in South Sydney.

‘Hard to watch’: Hastings reveals the painful sight of tigers as the star opens

World Cup: Hastings reveals bold World Cup plans.

Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins have dealt with Latrell Mitchell.Source: Getty Images

We want to make it clear that we will not let go of anyone contracted to the club for 2023.

The Browns are in ongoing negotiations with Mitchell, five-eighth Cody Walker and NSW State of Origin ruckman Damien Cook.

South Sydney are ready to pay more than $1 million for Mitchell, 25, as the club negotiates a three-year extension that will keep the star fullback at Redfern until the end of 2026.

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Kent’s warning for ‘fun’ | 03:57

The Browns have discussed offering Walker a two-year deal worth nearly $600,000 through the end of 2025.

South Sydney are in ongoing negotiations with Cook, 31, who wants a three-year extension beyond 2023.

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