Wests Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks has been linked with a move north, while team-mate Tyrone Peachey is free to negotiate with rival clubs.
A former NSW player’s stint overseas has ended prematurely as Origin Game II comes as a showcase for a number of stars who are set to leave their contracts on November 1.
Meanwhile, Bennett is targeting the cousin of a player already signed for the 2023 season.
Read below for all the NRL transfer whispers!
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ANOTHER DOLPHIN IN THE FAMILY
Broncos center Brenko Lee has been released on the final year of his contract at Red Hill.
The former Maroons gun will remain with the Broncos for the 2022 season and is expected to sign with Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins for their inaugural NRL season.
“The Broncos can confirm that Brenko Lee has been granted a final year release of his contract in 2023,” the Broncos said in a club statement.
“Brenko will remain with the Broncos through the end of the 2022 NRL season.”
According to News Corp, the former Raiders, Bulldogs, Titans and Storm player will join his cousin Edrick at the Dolphins, who will leave the Knights at the end of the year.
Super coach Wayne Bennett has made no secret of his desire to sign the 190cm, 26-year-old, explaining he doesn’t want him to play in the Queensland Cup.
“I’m looking to have Brenko on board,” Bennett told News Corp.
“He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities at the Broncos this season, but he has his chance now and I hope he ends the season on a high note.
“I consider him a starting center. I don’t want him playing in the Queensland Cup, Brenko at his best is a true NRL player, the try he put up against the Raiders last week was the perfect play from the center.
Bennett also coached Lee on the 2020 Origin Series where he debuted in a winning streak.
“I worked with Brenko on the Origin series a few years ago and I like what he brought to the team. He was outstanding in Game 3, we needed him to play tonight there and he did – we couldn’t have won the series without him,” Bennett said.
“If he comes here, he would be an asset to the Dolphins.”
The Dolphins’ backline stocks are still thin with Edrick Lee, Jamayne Isaako, Robert Jennings and Connely Lemuelu signed for the 2023 season.
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Tigers halfback Luke Brooks is set to be dropped for the first time in his NRL career and has been linked with a move to the Dolphins.
Brooks will make $1.1 million next season in the final year of his contract and the Tigers are reportedly trying to offload him.
Dolphins coach Wayne is yet to land a signing for the club’s inaugural season next year and Brooks could be an option.
Bennett has already signed teenage halfback Isaiya Katoa and is expected to land veteran five-eighth Anthony Milford.
Brooks’ management twice requested a release last summer, which the Tigers rejected, but the 27-year-old is now expected to be dropped when the NRL resumes after Origin’s break.
Adam Doueihi has returned from a serious knee injury and is expected to feature in the halves with Jackson Hastings.
“The problem is he’s got so much money, they’re trying to shop him around and get somebody to get the lion’s share of that contract,” Paul Kent said on NRL 360.
Veteran rugby league journalist Dave Riccio says the script for the Tigers and Brooks has changed dramatically since the summer.
“It’s very different to pre-season where a lot of clubs had money to spend. There are no clubs just sitting with excess funds in their cap at the moment to get Luke Brooks back and it would take that the Tigers pay a significant amount.
“The Dolphins need a point guard, don’t they. Wayne Bennett, we’ve seen what he can do for a player lacking in confidence. He could be a good candidate for the Dolphins, a very good point guard.”
SHOWCASE OF ORIGIN CONTRACTS
A staggering 15 players in Origin Game II squads could hit the open market on November 1, giving over $10 million worth of talent a platform to show off their worth.
Players themselves are aware of what a strong performance in the Origin Arena can do for their valuation, as rival clubs weigh up a lucrative bid for some of the game’s biggest stars.
Daniel Tupo. Ben Hunt, Victor Radley, Jeremiah Nanai, Siosifa Talakai, Thomas Flegler, Selwyn Cobbo, Cameron Munster, Murray Taulagi, Brian To’o, Liam Martin and Stephen Crichton are all free to trade from November
Meanwhile, Matt Burton’s final season of 2024 is an option in his favor and Angus Crichton’s contract situation is yet to be resolved.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, a players’ agent called the feeding frenzy “unrivaled” with so many talented players rarely on the market at once.
“It’s unparalleled the number of star players going out of contract at the same time,” said a top players’ agent.
“They are among the biggest names in rugby league.
“Clubs started talking about November 1 and who they could target.
“Some clubs won’t have the money to run, but others are moving around their cap as we speak to ensure there’s room to tackle a big name once. that some of these players will hit the open market in a few months.”
The Panthers are hoping to lock down three stars in the long term, while the Cameron Munster contract saga cements itself as one of the biggest storylines in recent NRL memory.
After re-signing long-term Hughes, Grant, Coates and Papenhuyzen, Munster are expected to take a pay cut to stay in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have entered the frame and are looking to secure a marquee rookie to play under Wayne Bennett.
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REYNOLDS RETURNS HOME
Former Blues representative Josh Reynolds has reportedly been released immediately from his contract with Hull FC.
According to Hull Daily Mail, the 33-year-old is in talks with power brokers Hull for a mid-season exit, with five months remaining on his current contract.
Hull FC players were reportedly told of their marquee man’s departure on Saturday, ending a disappointing spell abroad.
Reynolds would have been the highest-paid player in the club’s history but was unable to shoot in the Super League, with a sub-par performance against the Catalan Dragons being the last straw for the bosses according to reports .
The former Bulldogs and Tigers point guard had a one-year option for the end of this season, but he would not be offered an extension.
During Hull’s 2022 campaign, Reynolds spent long periods on the sidelines due to injury and since his arrival has played in just 60 per cent of the club’s matches.
PEACHEY TIGERS RELEASE
The Wests Tigers have granted disgraced utility Tyrone Peachey the chance to negotiate with NRL rivals after his management sought permission to explore his options.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Tigers will allow Peachey to find another club despite having 18 months remaining on his two-year contract with the club.
The 30-year-old was signed by the Tigers after the Titans opted out of extending his three-year spell on the Gold Coast.
However, Peachey struggled for playing time under former coach Michael Maguire and now interim coach Brett Kimmorley at the Tigers.
Peachey has scored one try in just eight games for the club this season, most of those appearances coming off the bench.
Director of Football Tim Sheens has adopted a development strategy with the aim of turning the club around by focusing on its impressive juniors coming through the ranks.
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Peachey has scored 50 tries in 187 NRL games for the Sharks, Panthers, Titans and Tigers since making his debut in 2013 and played three Origins for the Blues in 2018.
The former representative’s career is now at a crossroads as he tries to find more playing time at an NRL rival ahead of the 2022 final series.
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It remains to be seen whether Peachey would be open to exploring Super League opportunities if an NRL club does not emerge for the veteran.
However, at his best, Peachey is an excellent utility and can add depth and skill to an NRL side looking to bolster their bench options ahead of the final and into next season.