Daly rumour mill
One thing you quickly realise when covering rugby league is to never dismiss a rumour, not matter how outrageous. Where there is smoke there is often fire and a truth much stranger than fiction (Mitchell Pearce, we're looking at you). The latest whisper doing the rounds has Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans being shipped out of Brookvale for a move north to Brisbane or, bizarrely, Redfern. Asked about the possibility DCE could be released two years out from the end of his lucrative $1.3m-a-year contract, coach Des Hasler replied: "Ah, no." The Sea Eagles are now saying they want to extend the skipper's stay beyond 2023, ensuring the rumours disappear for now. But besieged Broncos coach Kevin Walters would kill to have his old Origin halfback at No.7 and will keep knocking on that door.
As DCE said: "Generally speaking, it's very, very easy for a contract to be void from a player's perspective and a club's perspective. Even though I have two and a half years to run (on his existing contract), I still felt unsure because things can change so quickly in this game. We've seen so many situations where that does happen."
Talking of rumours, there is strong mail northern beaches-based Shawn Bradstreet is in the box seat to take over as head coach at Big Bash League franchise Sydney Thunder. "Winga" enjoyed great success as coach at Manly-Warringah before joining Thunder as an assistant under Shane Bond and helping the lime greens to the 2015/16 BBL title.
The popular former NSW all-rounder and captain also coached in the Pakistan Super League. With Bond quitting the Thunder to return to his native New Zealand, Bradstreet appears the natural choice to take over. Not that the father-of-four is taking anything for granted. Contacted by Inside Back, the 49-year-old confirmed his interest in the role but declined to comment further. Cricket NSW will shortly begin the obligatory "worldwide search" for a new coach, but will surely arrive at Bradstreet's doorstep.
Jumping through Hoops
The biggest local derby (aren't they all?) in years could be even bigger, with Wallabies captain Michael Hooper set to make the rarest of club rugby appearances on June 5. Hooper's commitments with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz are due to end soon, opening up the possibility the 105-Test veteran could turn out for Manly against Warringah in the 50th anniversary of the first local derby.
If he plays, it would be the 29-year-old's first game for the Marlins since 2013 and only his 17th appearance for his boyhood club.
Fans on the outer
Crowd lock-outs are nothing new in this age of COVID, but Manly United FC were forced to play behind closed doors for different reasons last Sunday. Manly's opponent Sydney United are barred from entertaining fans at home or away games following a nasty brawl between supporters following last month's NPL NSW match against Rockdale Ilinden. Police were called after crates and rocks were thrown while one man wielded a motor mower blade. It probably wasn't a bad thing Manly fans were banned from attending Edensor Park, with our boys whipped 5-0.
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