Another league star tipped to make jump
BEFORE you start reading this week's column, I want you to be sitting down.
As most people are aware, the AFL scored a major coup last week with the signing of Karmichael Hunt to the Gold Coast Football Club for next year.
Hunt will be playing in the VFL, and while that sent shock waves through the rugby league community, I heard this week of something even bigger.
I have it on good authority that another superstar fullback is going to jump ship and chase the big bucks in AFL - none other than Jarryd Hayne!
Yes that's right - I have been informed that Hayne has signed (note has) with Essendon for next year with a price tag of $1 million.
Apparently he was in Melbourne this week, talking to the Bombers, and my mail comes directly from the Essendon training camp that he will be part of the club next season.
If this is true, it sends an even bigger shockwave through the NRL.
But wait there's more!
The rumours are that Hayne isn't the only high-profile league star that will be announcing a code change, with Collingwood and Eddie McGuire planning to drop a bombshell with some signings of mega proportions within the next 10 days.
While the names being linked with the Pies sound like a wish list, if the news about Hayne is correct, the gloves are well and truly off in the battle of the codes.
If he has gone to the AFL, it confirms what I was talking about last week that a number of high-profile players are totally disgruntled with the way the NRL is being run from the executive down.
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NOW before you go saying that Wombat is off his rocker, my information comes from a very credible Tweed rugby league stalwart who has connections within the Essendon training camp and I have no reason to doubt this bloke.
If Hayne has gone, it will be yet another media steal on the NRL, with the AFL dominating the headlines and really showing just how serious they are about becoming the dominant football code in this country.
However if the salary figure is fair dinkum, what does that say to existing AFL players, especially the rising stars like Sam Gilbert?
Surely this money must be topped up by the AFL itself rather than just the club.
The media attention the code would attract by signing Hayne would be priceless, and you know that Eddie McGuire is a media junkie capable of doing anything if it means good press for Collingwood.
What it would also do is send a message to young league players that the world is their oyster when it comes to code-crossing.
Like most league supporters, I always thought union was the biggest threat to league, but not anymore.
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GETTING back to the games, this weekend could be one of the more critical of the competition with so many matches scheduled which could decide teams' fates.
Matches like Manly and Souths could see the Bunnies playing for their finals hopes, while the Sea Eagles look to put pressure on the top four. The Eels and Knights could be a huge game with a lacklustre Knights outfit looking to regain form and stay in the hunt for the top eight, while the Eels, showing great form might be rocked by the Hayne news if it is true.
The Broncos must bounce back against the lowly Sharks or start planning their end-of-season trip, while the Titans need to win away from home to stay in the top four.
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THE Tweed Coast Raiders will be hosting a sportsmen's lunch on Friday, August 28 at the Cabarita Beach Hotel with special guests Brett Kenny and Peter Tunks. The cost is $75 per head which includes the meal, beer, wine and soft drinks. For booking contact the Cabarita Beach Hotel on (02) 6676 0033.