Sport Confidential: Trent Barrett coaching future, Tariq Sims’ Storm rumours, State of Origin news

SPORTS CONFIDENTIAL: The hits keep on coming for sacked Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett, plus Melbourne puts a last-ditch bid in for finals help and the latest Origin fallout.

The Panthers are a coach short for next season after Andrew Webster was appointed Warriors coach from next season.

It was Webster who replaced Barrett as Penrith’s attacking coach when Barrett took on Canterbury’s head coaching job.

Instead of looking at Barrett for a third stint at the club, the Panthers are set to appoint within. They have ex-skipper Peter Wallace and pathways coach Ben Harden already in their ranks who they are looking to potentially promote.

Penrith star Nathan Cleary has thrown his support behind Webster’s step up into a head coaching position.

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Cleary said he had “massive respect” for Webster who has spent the past two seasons at Penrith.

“He came in after Baz (Barrett) shaped our attack and he didn’t have the ego where he needed to change it, to be his way,” Cleary said.

“He just adopted what we were doing and added his touches here and then. And I’ve really enjoyed working with Webby.

“He doesn’t want to be in the media all the time and people saying how good he’s going. But within the group he’s helped us a lot.

“It’s a big step, but he’s got the right temperament to do it.”


Battle-weary Melbourne have failed with a hail mary request to bring in St George Illawarra forward Tariq Sims before the August 1 deadline.

Confidential understands that the Storm reached out to the Dragons last week to ask whether they would consider allowing Sims to take up his contract with Melbourne ahead of schedule after announcing earlier this year he would join them for 2023.

The Dragons politely dismissed the request given they are locked in a battle for a place in the top eight and still believe Sims is an important fixture as they make a finals push.

Sims is out of action this week after being suspended following the Dragons’ loss to Brisbane last week, during which he was sin-binned on two separate occasions.

Even that ill-disciplined display couldn’t convince St George Illawarra to let him go before August 1, leaving the Storm to search elsewhere for potential reinforcements for the remainder of the season. The Storm forward stocks have taken a beating in recent weeks and they are on the look-out for a big man to join the club for the rest of the season.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy had spoken to Matt Lodge but he ultimately moved to the Sydney Roosters and could make his first appearance for the club this weekend given Lindsay Collins won’t play after suffering a head knock in Queensland’s win over NSW.

One potential option for the Storm is looking to sign out of favour Parramatta middle Nathan Brown for the rest of the season.

Brown – who is again expected to play reserve grade this weekend – has been given permission to leave and is set to ramp up his search for a new club after settling on Mario Tartak as his new agent.

The Storm seem like a logical potential landing spot for what is left of this season given the former NSW forward is open to a move and Melbourne are struggling with their depth in the forwards after a run of injuries.


Bernard Tomic says he is “proud” of Nick Kyrgios’ Wimbledon run and remains keen to take him on in a head to head winner takes all million dollar exhibition match.

Despite the pair trading barbs in recent months, Tomic spoke growlingly of Kyrgios and respected his first grand slam final run which ended in defeat to Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

“Congratulations to Nick,” Tomic said via his management at real media group. “It’s a big achievement to play in a Wimbledon final. He played very well and I proud of what he has achieved for himself and Australian tennis

“I have no hard feelings towards Nicky boy. We have shared a lot of good times and I wish him nothing good luck to his future success.”

When asked about his million dollar bet proposal Tomic refused to back down after publicly challenging Kyrgios earlier this year.

“Of course my bet still stands,” Tomic said. “If he wants to challenge me I will never back down. Nothing has changed. I’ll still play him anywhere anytime.

“I’m still playing and it’s just a matter of time until I’m back on top of my game. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I’ve had unfortunate events the last few years so haven’t had much time on the court yet.

“Either way I am sure we’ll meet in the future soon.”

Meanwhile, Lleyton Hewitt will be formally inducted into the international tennis hall of fame in the US this weekend.

Hewitt was inducted last year but his celebrations were curtailed because of Covid-19.


Cameron Ciraldo is mulling a move to Canterbury but the Bulldogs could have a fight on another front after it emerged that the Wests Tigers were circling assistant David Furner as part of their plans for a new-look coaching staff.

Ciraldo has already rejected the Tigers but it is understood he has been in dialogue with Canterbury’s head of football Phil Gould and remains open to leading the Bulldogs.

That could see Mick Potter remain at the club on an interim basis for another 12 months before Ciraldo takes over in 2024. The door is certainly not shut on him joining Canterbury next year.

Ciraldo is expected to take up a one-year extension at Penrith but the door remains ajar as part of that deal that he can take on a top job at a rival before November 1.

Furner, meanwhile, has a long relationship with Tigers head of football Tim Sheens stretching back to his playing days in Canberra.

He has been a loyal ally to Potter during his interim time in charge but the Tigers are believed to be considering a move for Furner as they look to form a coaching staff to work under Sheens next season.

Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah have limited coaching experience. Furner is one of the most experienced in the NRL and would help the pair as the club attempts to gauge whether one or both are capable to taking over from Sheens on a full-time basis.


Daniel Saifiti broke down in tears when he found out twin brother Jacob was to make his Origin debut. The duo joined a rare list of brothers to play Origin for the Blues and becoming just the third set of twins to play Origin.

Jacob was strong in his first showing scoring a try.

“We were in the ice baths and just finished captain’s run,” Daniel recalled. “We were sitting there and Adam (O’Brien) told Jacob to check his phone. He got a text from Hayden Knowles that Jordan had gone down so to be ready

“I was getting a massage a couple of hours later and he called me. I thought his phone was breaking up because he was so upset. The emotion came out and I had a cry as well. He was there for me. We both had a tear when I made my debut.”

Daniel has played seven games for the Blues.


The NRL scrapped the losing skipper from having to speak on stage after Wednesday’s Origin. NSW captain James Tedesco was spared the boos from the rabid Maroons fans following the defeat.


The NRL’s plan to invade America took another step towards coming to fruition on Wednesday when the ARL Commission discussed the business plan and where it would sit as part of an update on the draw for next season.

ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys insists any move to take the game to the US will be part of a long-term strategy to tap into the American market. It won’t be a one-off. The plan is for it to become a regular event of the NRL calendar.

Confidential understands further talks are set to be held with the clubs in coming weeks – Manly and South Sydney have been earmarked to play the game, both having indicated they are keen to be involved if the finances stack up.

V’landys remains keen on the idea, having seen the way the NFL has infiltrated England and begun to cash in on another market. The NFL has scheduled three games to be played in London later this year.

“The world is the market,” V’landys said.

“Australia is only 24 million people. There are 40 million in California. It is not a one-off. It is an investment. The NFL [in England] is the perfect example – they persevered.

“You are not going to do it with one game. You need a commitment, you need a strategy and that is what we are going to do.

“It has always been on the drawing board but it is just a matter of making sure the clubs have the appetite to do it.

“We still have to get the business plan to stack up but naturally we have to get the co-operation of the clubs. Absolutely. It is no good if the clubs have no appetite to do it.”


Leading boxing promoter George Rose has called on Origin brawling duo Dane Gagai and Matt Burton to settle their differences in the ring at the end of the year.

Gagai has had an interest in boxing before according to Rose who also offered Burton the services of Nikita and Tim Tszyu to help finetune his fighting style after he was left with a bloodied cheek.

“I would love to see Gagai v Burton in the ring,” Rose, chief executive of No Limit Boxing, said.

“I might have to send a few blokes out to help out Burton get ready for the fight. Gagai certainly has some boxing talent.”

Rose also wants big men Junior Paulo and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to go at it. Paulo is due to fight at the end of the season while Fa’asuamaleaui caused a stir after putting Burton in a headlock which helped him get whacked by Gagai.

“Tino was lucky big Junior wasn’t on the field,” Rose said. “Junior must’ve been frothing at the bit ready to come flying in. I don’t think there is anyone in the NRL who could beat Junior.

“I’m not sure if Tino is keen to fight but there is always a home for him at No Limit if he wants to test himself.”


Just a day after tasting Origin defeat NSW player Siosifa Talakai was due to front Sutherland local court after pleading guilty to a driving charge.

Talakai’s lawyer Warwick Korn had the matter adjourned because of Talakai’s Origin commitments in Brisbane.

Talakai is now set for sentencing on Tuesday. Talakai’s licence expired in 2020 and this is the second time he has been charged with driving with an expired licence.


We’re loving the return of the post-try celebration this month. Some players have thought outside the square while others are looking to rival codes for inspiration. We’re reliably informed Cronulla hooker Blayke Brailey did his best “griddy dance” after crossing for the Sharks against Melbourne last Thursday. The celebration comes from gun NFL Minneapolis Vikings wide-receiver Justin Jefferson.

Not only did Brailey borrow the move from Jefferson we’re told he stole it from teammate Connor Tracey who was planning to unleash if he scored.


South Sydney are on the verge of handing centre Taane Milne a fresh contract for the next two seasons.

Milne has made 14 appearances for the Rabbitohs this season and scored six tries, doing enough to earn himself a deal believed to be worth upwards of $350,000 over the two years.

While Milne’s future has been secured, young back Jaxson Paulo is still without a deal for next year. Paulo has made 11 appearances for Souths and scored five tries but is yet to convince the Rabbitohs to come to the party.

It is understood they haven’t closed the door altogether, but risk losing Paulo to a rival while he remains off contract.


Rugby league bosses Peter V’landys and Andrew Abdo inspecting their $25 million investment – Gambaros hotel and restaurant – on the walk to State of Origin on Wednesday night. No doubt they were impressed. It was buzzing.


Newcastle have locked down impressive young forward Leo Thompson to a long-term deal. It is understood the Knights will secure Thompson until at least the end of 2025.

He has been a revelation for Newcastle this year after joining the club on a development contract from the Raiders in the off-season. The 22-year-old was then given an upgraded new deal but he has impressed so much that the Knights are expected to extend and upgrade him again.

Thompson has played 15 games for the Knights this season.

FORMER NRL coach Matt Elliott has turned author with Elliott’s life-transforming book hitting the shelves earlier this month.

The book draws on his experiences from his decades involved in rugby league as a player and coach but draws inspiration from what he has studied since his coaching days ended.

The book is a personalised plan that Elliott says “will transform your thinking, your choices and your future”. “The Change Room” has already jumped to become a no.1 best seller in the psychology of leadership market.


Penrith and Wests Tigers will play for the inaugural Royce Simmons Cup this Sunday at CommBank Stadium.

With Simmons having close ties with both clubs – as a decorated captain and coach at the Panthers and a long-term assistant at the Tigers – the perpetual trophy has been named in his honour.


SYDNEY Harbour Bridge will be beaming with maroon on Friday night after the NSW premier Dominic Perrottet lost a bet to his Queensland counterpart.

Perrottet could not resist a cheeky dig at the Queensland government despite holding up his end of the bargain.

“Just like paying a hotel quarantine bill.. an agreement is an agreement,” Perrottet tweeted. “The Harbour Bridge will sadly shine maroon on Friday.”

Originally published as Sport Confidential: Trent Barrett coaching future, Tariq Sims’ Storm rumours, State of Origin news Sport Confidential: Trent Barrett coaching future, Tariq Sims’ Storm rumours, State of Origin news

Nate Jones

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