Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has revealed the three players he would sign as a matter of priority if he was in charge of the NRL’s expansion team.
The NRL is expected to announce in the coming weeks the winning bid to become the competition’s 17th team.
It’s reported the competition will expand in season 2023, giving the new club a year to compile a squad of 30 first-grade players.
Melbourne five-eighth Cameron Munster has been heavily linked to the expansion club, and the man himself has stated he would be keen to move back home to Queensland and help kickstart the state’s fourth team.
Johns, though, has his eyes on a different Storm player.
“I’d be bringing Queenslanders home, boys from Queensland,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth.
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“Christian Welch is one, Reed Mahoney is another one, and Cody (Walker). I’d bring Cody back.
“I’d bring Cody Walker and play him as a halfback, bring Reed Mahoney as hooker and Christian Welch who’s my captain.”
South Sydney playmaker Cody Walker was born in Nowra and is a New South Welshman, but spent the early part of his career playing football in Queensland.
Brad Fittler has his eyes on another established NSW-based player who he says could captain the expansion club.
“I do think Gutho (Clint Gutherson) has had a big impact and influence on Parramatta, he is someone I would chase,” Fittler said.
“I don’t know if I was a Queensland team I’d chase him but he’s shown some really good leadership at Parramatta and the results have shown.
“(The Eels have) got pretty deep into the season most years that he’s been there, so he would be someone I’d look to get.”
Fittler, though, isn’t keen to start speculating about players potentially switching clubs more than 12 months out from when they would actually move.
Players are allowed to start negotiating and sign with rival clubs when they have less than 12 months remaining on an existing contract. It’s seen a number of instances where a player plays an entire season with a team everyone knows he won’t be at the following year.
“The first thing I’d be trying to do if I was the NRL; I’d be trying to change their system,” Fittler said.
“I still find it a bit nauseating to be able to be dealing all year with who players are going to be playing with the following year.
“I’m not sure what the better system is but hopefully that’s something they work on. The fact is we’re talking about it, really, is not a really good taste.”
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