Knights coach Nathan Brown has a staggering $2.2 million left to spend in next season’s salary cap with just six positions remaining to be filled in his 30-man playing roster for 2019.
It’s a remarkably strong position to be in.
The only question now is how he will spend it and who he will spend it on.
Theoretically, Brown can potentially afford to pay six players $350,000 each and still have some change left over. Or he could fork out $800,000 each for two marquees and spend an average of $200,000 on the other four players.
It’s not hard to do the math. The hard part is not jumping in early for a player just to fill a hole and then being stuck down the track with someone you wish you hadn’t signed.
Brown knows the difference between finishing 11th again and making the top eight or even challenging for the top four next season could hinge on the quality of the six players he is yet to sign.
Presumably, it is why he has made a hard call on fringe players such as Luke Yates, Cory Denniss, Ken Sio and JJ Felise and not re-signed them.
But the danger in keeping your powder dry and hoping better quality players come on the market is what happens if those better quality players don’t materialise?
Brown is banking on the strong mail being right that there are at least four or five clubs under salary cap pressure who are ready to move players and only a couple of clubs with salary cap space left to negotiate. None have anything like the money the Knights have.
It’s understood Parramatta has put most of its squad up for sale in a bid to free up some cash while we are aware of at least one club who has to move players just to become cap compliant before the comp kicks off next season.
It is a risky game Brown is playing with his own future hinging on results next season but the potential rewards will be big if his strategy comes off.
Levi on the move?
Given the seriousness of hooker Slade Griffin’s injury and the doubt over what role he will play next season, it’s hard to believe Danny Levi’s future at the Knights is under a cloud.
But in the past week, we have heard him being quietly linked to a move to the Eels and Penrith.
Whether it has something to do with Brown initially chasing Issac Luke and then having a chat to James Segeyaro or there is a potential player swap involved is unclear. But the rumours won’t go away.
Potter’s new gig
It didn’t take Mick Potter long to pick up another job in the NRL.
The former Knights assistant coach, who was shown the door at the end of last season, has bobbed up at the Parramatta Eels in a coaching development role.
He will be in charge of the Eels players transitioning from juniors to seniors.
Ken Sio’s manager Sam Ayoub didn’t miss the Knights during the week when he labelled the club’s offer to the winger as “pathetic and shitty”. But that wasn’t all he was dirty about.
Ayoub also manages Sharks hooker James Segeyaro and took aim at the Knights’ tardiness in making a decision over his future.
“The Knights need a good hooker and they met with Segy three weeks ago,”Ayoub said.
“Then Browny [coach Nathan Brown] met with him on his own two weeks ago. But do you think they have put anything forward? I’ve heard nothing.”
We’re told that unless Levi was to move on, Segeyaro’s signing is highly unlikely.
Jets media man Matt Townsend take a bow.
Townsend and a close mate from Sydney, Kevin Holloway came up with a great concept and with the help of director Kate Halpin, have produced an outstanding video to promote the club on the eve of a new A-League season.
A shortened version of the video, which features the stirring catchcry, “We are the Jets and we are Made of Newcastle” will be seen on WIN Television and Fox Sports during the season.
Gidley’s Big Mac future
Newcastle Knights’ Hall of Famer and former club CEO Matt Gidley has kept a fairly low profile since finishing up at the Knights just over 12 months ago.
But he has been far from idle.
The former champion centre is about to step head-first into the hamburger business after getting the green light to become a McDonald’s franchise owner.
The process has been a long one and Gidley’s had plenty of hoops to jump through.
“The thing is all the current licencees want more restaurants so they [McDonald’s] aren’t actively looking for anyone new,”he said. “It was a challenge just to be accepted in to start an interview process.
“There were seven months of interviews and then I’ve had to do all the training and management courses and at the back end of that, I’ll get offered a restaurant. The early part of next year, I’ll have a better idea of where that will be.
“It could be anywhere and it depends on where an opportunity comes up but they know our preference is to stay in the Hunter somewhere so we’ll wait and see.”
After being at the coal-face during some really tough times at the Knights, Gidley said he is enjoying just being a fan after directly being involved in rugby league all his life.
“I haven’t missed a home game and it’s been great just to be in the stand watching with my young bloke and my parents,” he said.
Seu Seu later
New Central Newcastle coach Phil Williams is resigned to losing veteran hooker Terence Seu Seu and could also be without centre Steve Gordon for next season’s Newcastle premiership.
Seu Seu, who lives on the Central Coast, has just started working weekend night shift and has been linked to a move to Wyong.
“We won’t have Terence and there is talk of Steve Gordon maybe playing for Wellington but the rest of this year’s squad has basically re-signed,”Williams said.
Wests Rosellas’ utility Ben Stone and winger Jake Scott [Lakes] will play for Malta today in the final of the Emerging Nations World Cup against Niue at St Marys after beating Hungry mid-week.