The rift in the Newcastle dressing room has been simmering for the past few months, with Knights manager Adam O’Brien telling his squad after a recent defeat: “I know what they’re saying about me. I’m not going anywhere.
O’Brien’s point may appear empty as the Cavaliers head into damage control following the coach’s loose press conference last Sunday.
O’Brien faced the media on Tuesday to try to bring things back from the brink, but by that stage the cracks in the Newcastle dressing room were wide open.
David Klemmer’s situation has taken a further turn for a struggling club who have managed just five wins from 19 games this year.
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The Knights started this season on a high note with back-to-back wins over the Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers before a seven-game losing streak heading into the Magic Round.
Newcastle have the worst defensive record in the NRL with an average of 27.47 points per game conceding 522 points and currently have the worst margin of victory in the competition with 238 points, so this is a slim pick.
There is no question that O’Brien’s penchant for explosiveness is wearing thin with elements of Newcastle’s playing squad.
The problem with O’Brien is that it’s much easier to get rid of a head coach in 2022 than to completely try and turn the roster around.
It’s the old saying that you’ve never been a head coach until you’ve lost four games in a row and the heat is on — and that’s where O’Brien finds himself right now.
‘At the same point’: Knights at the Crossroads O’Brien feels ‘smooth sailing’ running
Knights have insisted O’Brien will stay on as head coach next season, but the Newcastle manager’s biggest immediate challenge is getting his squad back on the same page.
New director of football Peter Parr has arrived at Newcastle and he can only be shaking his head at the bungle he’s been in.
O’Brien is signed to Newcastle until the end of 2024, meaning he has five years at the club if the Knights stay the course.
After the events of last week, it is now abundantly clear that the Cavaliers manager needs a quick start to next season to ensure his own job security.
Let’s call Clemmer’s play from Newcastle – the Knights are clearly trying to free up some money to move in another direction next season.
Clemmer is at $800,000-plus which gives Newcastle some serious cash to go on the open market.
Many former players are opposed to the fact that centre-forwards are often dragged off the field.
Newcastle have clearly identified that they do not want the former NSW and Australian prop at the Knights and are understood to have begun the process of moving him to another club.
Roosters move to lock
The Sydney Roosters are set to launch a multi-million dollar move aimed at keeping young gun halfback Sam Walker at the Tricolors long-term.
Walker, 20, will be a free agent for opposing clubs as of Nov. 1, but like all good clubs, rosters will try and make sure they reach an agreement beforehand.
The other rookie that everyone is talking about at the Chocks is emerging superstar Joseph Suali. The Roosters will clearly recognize the contribution that champion forward Jared Warea-Hargreaves has made to the team over the past fortnight as he leads the club’s team chant.
Jared has been the leader of the roster, leading the group’s singing. Despite the disappointment of their Round 20 win over Manly, JWH still led the celebrations and insisted Sualei should ride his guns.
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Dragons chase roosters
The Gold Coast Titans are not the only club with a crack at signing Sydney Roosters hotshot Sam Verrills.
The St George Illawarra Dragons are also playing for premiership winner No.9.
Interestingly, the Dragons had a serious discussion with current hurler Andrew McCullough.
McCullough, 32, still has a year to run on his contract next season but the Reds are clearly going in a different direction.
McCullough is one of a clique of ex-Broncos players from the Dragons who enjoys a close relationship with Red V coach Anthony Griffin.
Whore, Dragons captain Ben Hunt and Josh Maguire all played in the under-20s grand final against the Broncos in 2008 when Griffin was manager.
Farah got his hands on the tigers in front
Putting the Wests Tigers team together with Tim Sheens, Benjy Marshall and Robbie Farah is a smart move from Fight Club.
The smart thing, though, is that Farah’s new contract dictates that he is prepared to learn the ropes when it comes to front office management with the club.
The Tigers have been teased by rival clubs about the club’s approach.
Having someone like Farah who has bled for the club in this department means a lot.
They move to keep South Latrell, Cody at Redfern
Last week we told you how South Sydney had made a balanced $6 million move around the re-signing of superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell and five-eighth Cody Walker.
We’ve been told there’s a strong chance the two key position players could expect to re-join South Sydney after November 1.
The Rabbitohs moved quickly to try and shake up the situation in the squad, meeting with the star duo earlier this week.
Both Latrell and Cody are out of contract at the end of next season but there is a chance they could join the Browns soon as talks progress positively.
It would be a major coup for the Red and Green club and CEO Blake Solly.