NEWCASTLE Knights junior and former NSW winger Anthony Quinn is contemplating life as a bush footballer back in his home town.
Only 29, the experienced Valentine-Eleebana product has played 103 games for both the Storm (2007-12) and Knights (2002-2006).
However, he does not have a contract with any club for next year and is now resigned to leaving Melbourne and continuing his career elsewhere.
Quinn, who represented the Blues in all three games of the 2008 State of Origin series, told the Newcastle Herald yesterday that he was keeping his options open but denied speculation he has signed to play for reigning Newcastle Rugby League premiers Wests.
The Herald has been told an intermediary has spoken to the Knights and South Sydney to assess their interest but was told neither club had any room left under their 2013 salary cap to sign a player of Quinn’s pedigree.
The Knights have a policy of not speaking to the Herald about player retention and recruitment.
Quinn, his wife, Frances, and their 14-month-old daughter, Summer, are back in Newcastle briefly to visit family and friends. They will return to Melbourne later this month so he can complete the final stages of his electrician’s apprenticeship at TAFE.
‘‘I heard that I’ve already signed for Wests – that was the rumour going around – but that hasn’t happened at all,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘We’ll go away on holidays for a week then we’ll be back in town in November, so if we can work something out then, that’d be great.
‘‘I’ve spoken to a few people but I haven’t committed to anything just yet. I just wanted to relax a bit and get away from everything, and finish off these TAFE modules as well.’’
Quinn scored the first and last tries in Melbourne’s 34-8 grand final victory over Manly in 2007 (the NRL later stripped the club of that title), and played in the Storm’s 40-0 loss to the Sea Eagles the following year.
He was injured and missed their 23-16 victory over Parramatta in the 2009 decider (the NRL stripped them of that title too), then was overlooked for their 14-4 triumph over the Dogs two weeks ago after battling a calf strain in the final weeks of the season.
Asked if his National Rugby League career was over, Quinn referred to former Storm teammate Bryan Norrie and said it was a case of never say never.
‘‘He thought he was done when he went to Wagga Wagga Kangaroos but he came back and played for us and he’s played well ever since,’’ he said. ‘‘If it is the end, I can’t really complain. I ‘kind of’ won a grand final. It’s not in the books but I played in one and won, I lost one, then missed out on a couple through injury and non-selection, so I can’t really complain if this is it. I had a good crack. I had fun. It’s a lot more than what a lot of players have achieved.’’
According to the Newcastle Rugby League’s player points system, Quinn counts for 200 points as a National Rugby League player who played 10 or more games in either of the previous two seasons. He played 20 games for Melbourne this year and 15 last year.
Wests are premiers but, having finished second on the ladder behind minor premiers Cessnock, are allowed to use players to the total value of 750 points next season. Quinn would count for zero points for Lakes as he is a product of their own feeder area.
Wests coach Craig Miller insisted Quinn would not be playing for the Rosellas next season and that he should still be playing for a National Rugby League club. ‘‘Our roster’s full and our points are full, but I think Quinny is still an NRL player,’’ Miller said.
Lakes secretary Tom Sheppard said the club’s priority was to confirm a new coach for 2013, and he hoped to be able to do that by the end of this week, ‘‘but we’d love to have a player like Anthony Quinn at the club’’.
Knights NSW Cup coach Rip Taylor, who was at the helm when Lakes won the Newcastle competition in 2002, is the leading contender to fill the vacancy at Cahill Oval, but he is also considering other options.