Sports

NRL news 2022, The Mole column, Kenny Edwards returning to Parramatta Eels, Payne Haas Broncos contract

Talented former bad boy Kenny Edwards wants to join the Eels in 2023 – but the potential move has split the club.

After losing the nucleus of their forward pack to rival clubs for next year, the coaching and playing group want the 32-year-old back-rower back on board.

But Eels management are baulking at the suggestion due to Edwards’ long rap sheet in his six seasons at the club.

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Edwards was in strife for off-field incidents more than once in his time at the Eels and eventually released from his contract in 2018.

But the ball-playing back-rower is now 32, and those close to him say he has changed his ways, and he is among the best forwards in the Super League.

He has been offered a new deal by his current club Castleford but is keen to return and help the Eels.

The club has lost forwards Isaiah Papali’i to the Tigers, Marata Niukore to the Warriors, Reed Mahoney to the Bulldogs and Ray Stone to the Dolphins, while Wide World of Sports revealed that Blues Origin forward Ryan Matterson is also on the verge of signing with the Dolphins.

WHY TIGERS WON’T PURSUE HAAS

News Corp reported last week there is only one club in Sydney that could afford to buy disgruntled Bronco Payne Haas – the Tigers.

The news that Haas has withdrawn his request for a release from Brisbane merely delays the inevitable, and the Tigers could make room in the cap to make a play for Haas when he comes onto the market, but they won’t be doing so.

Tigers officials are reluctant to use a massive percentage of their salary cap on one player – and a front-rower at that.

So they won’t be making a play for the big man, even though he would add some clout to a forward pack that is struggling just about every week for go-forward.

It leaves Haas in limbo – unless a club finds a way to pay him some of his salary in brown paper bags – not that that happens any more.

Under-fire Haas ‘humbled’ by Fittler’s Origin faith

RIVALS LINE UP FOR YOUNG RAIDER

He’s played just three games of first grade, but exciting Raiders hooker Zac Woolford is already in demand from rival clubs.

Woolford had a superb debut in the Raiders’ upset win over Cronulla and has been a key figure in Canberra’s impressive mid-season return to form.

But the son of club legend Simon Woolford is coming off contract and both he and the Raiders have decisions to make in coming weeks.

Several NRL clubs are badly in need of genuine hookers and Woolford is a smart dummy-half capable of getting his team going forward.

His manager has already fielded inquiries about 2023 – watch this space.

HANDSHAKE BACKFLIP LEAVES COWBOYS SMOKING

Promising Panthers forward J’maine Hopgood won’t be getting a Christmas card from the Cowboys any year soon.

The Cowboys are filthy with the 23-year-old Queenslander, claiming they had a handshake deal with him to join them in 2023.

But instead Hopgood will join the Eels, who are in desperate need of strike power in the forwards after losing the players I listed above.

Good judges say Hopgood has a long career in the top grade ahead of him and just needs an opportunity, with his path blocked at Penrith by the club’s massive forward depth.

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