Finn Morton – Michmutters

Premier League, Chelsea transfers, rumor mill, transfer flops, Fernando Torres, Timo Werner, number nine jersey curse, Romelu Lukaku

Heavy spenders Chelsea have already been busy during the transfer window, and are almost certainly not finished despite spending €186.59m ($A270m) so far.

According to reports, the club are reportedly prepared to sign both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, ​​as well as Wesley Fofana from Leicester.

Chelsea have already signed Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Gabriel Slonina, Carney Chukwuemeka and Marc Cucurella in their squad overhaul.

World-class striker Aubameyang, a former club captain of London rivals Arsenal, would represent the latest in a long line of superstar strikers to have joined Stamford Bridge – although many have struggled to make their mark.

Indeed, Chelsea’s number nine jersey has been worn by so many flops in recent years that coach Thomas Tuchel revealed that no-one will wear the number this season.

“It’s cursed, it’s cursed, people tell me it’s cursed … nobody wants to touch the No 9,” he said.

But it’s not just the number nine jersey that has been a curse at Chelsea. Dating back to the end of the last century, many of Chelsea’s big-name attacking signings have failed to make their mark.

Here are some of the great Blues flops of the modern era.

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Transfer fee: £10m ($17m AUD) from Blackburn in 1999

Playing record: One goal in 28 Premier League games

Chelsea reached deep into their pockets to lure Sutton to Stamford Bridge from relegation stricken Blackburn, for what was then a club record fee.

The striker had signed from the Rovers, where he starred alongside Premier League icon Alan Shearer, after they placed second-last in the 1998-99 season.

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But the former England international had a forgettable debut campaign with the Blues, scoring just one goal from his 28 Premier League appearances.

Sutton’s sole contribution on the scoresheet came in a 5-0 thrashing of English giants Manchester United, which was a highlight in an otherwise quiet tenure in London.

His season went from bad to worse when he failed to make Chelsea’s bench for the 2000 FA Cup Final against Aston Villa, which the Blues won 1-0.

Sutton was a one season flop at Chelsea, though, after securing a transfer to Scottish giants Celtic.


Transfer fees: €22.5m ($32m AUD) from Parma in 2003

Playing record: 10 goals from 38 games

Mutu began his Chelsea career in fine form, scoring four goals from his first three appearances for the giants of English football.

Playing in front of new fans for the first time, the Romanian scored the winning goal on his club debut against Leicester City.

But drama ensued as his relationship with Jose Mourinho reportedly reached its boiling point, with Mutu facing backlash from his manager after he claimed to be injured.

Chelsea later fired the striker after he tested positive for cocaine use in 2004, and was suspended for seven months.

Although he was not at the London club anymore, Mutu failed another anti-doping test in January of 2010, as reported by the Guardian.

Mutu, who also wore the number seven jersey at Chelsea, was handed a nine-month ban for that incident.

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Transfer fees: €43.9m ($63m AUD) from Milan in 2006

Playing record: Nine goals from 48 Premier League games

Chelsea splashed the cash once again to sign Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko, who became the biggest signing in English football at the time.

Shevchenko, who was 30-year-old when he moved to London from Milan, was handed the number seven jersey under decorated coach Jose Mourinho.

But he failed to live up to the hype, scoring just 14 goals from 51 games during his first season with the famous London club.

Andriy Shevchenko had a forgettable spell with Chelsea.
Andriy Shevchenko had a forgettable spell with Chelsea.Source: AP

Shevchenko was loaned out to AC Milan, the club he’d signed from, during the 2008/09 season after failing to hit his stride at Stamford Bridge.

As reported by The Guardian, manager Carlo Ancelotti believed that Shevchenko was the fourth best striker at the club, just three years after he secured his record transfer.

Shevchenko was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the 2009/10 Champions League, and later returned to Dynamo Kyiv.


Transfer fees: £50m ($85m AUD) from Liverpool in 2011

Playing record: 20 goals in 110 Premier League games for Chelsea

Fernando Torres rose to footballing stardom during a successful stint at Liverpool, where he truly embodied the phrase ‘human highlight reel’.

Torres had already made his name in Spain, after being handed the Atletico Madrid captaincy at just 19 years of age.

The Spaniard left Madrid for Liverpool, although he’d return to the club at the back end of his career, and quickly proved himself to be one of the most exciting players in England.

Fernando Torres struggled to find some form after completing his move to Stamford Bridge. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

But drama struck early in 2011, as Torres completed a sensational transfer to Premier League rivals Chelsea.

The Blues again broke the British transfer record for a reported fee of £50 million, as the striker completed a mid-season move sent shockwaves throughout the league.

Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better, though, as Torres made his club debut for Chelsea after Liverpool.

The Blues lost that 1-0 and maybe it was a sign of things to come, as Torres went on to score just 20 goals in 110 Premier League appearances for Chelsea.

But while he failed to fire, these big money moves are all about making an impact when it counts, and Torres did that in the biggest competition that world football has to offer.

While he was far from an overwhelming success at Stamford Bridge, Torres did score a game sealing goal against Barcelona in a Champions League semi-final.

Chelsea went on to win their first ever Champions League crown in the 2011-12 campaign, beating German powerhouse Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties.


Transfer fee: £11m ($18m AUD) from Basel in 2014

Playing record: Two goals from 13 games

Mohamed Salah has cemented his legacy as a Premier League legend after a stellar career with Liverpool, but his career in England wasn’t always so successful.

The ‘Egyptian King’ made just 19 appearances for Chelsea, before he was loaned out to Fiorentina just 13-months after moving to London.

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Salah’s two best Premier League games in Blue came in a 6-0 win over rivals Arsenal, where he scored, as well as a promising showing against Stoke.

Salah was later loaned out to Roma, before securing a permanent move to the Italian capital soon after.

But the scintillating winger really took his career to the next Liverpool after he secured a well-known transfer to Liverpool.

Not only has Salah tasted success in both the Champions League and Premier League with the Merseyside club, but he’s widely considered to be one of the best footballers on the planet.

In fact he’s become so popular, the Economist revealed that more than one million Egyptians spoiled their ballots by trying to vote for Salah during the presidential election in 2018.

With many noteworthy individual accolades on the football field to speak of as well, Salah is certainly another gem that Chelsea failed to cherish when they had the chance.


Transfer fees: Around £60m ($103m AUD) from Real Madrid in 2017

Playing record: 24 goals from about 72 games

After impressive spells with European giants Juventus and Real Madrid, Morata was brought into the club as a replacement for Diego Costa.

Costa, who won two Premier League titles and scored 59 goals for Chelsea, returned to Atletico Madrid after being told he was free to look elsewhere.

Morata was another striker who had the weight of the world on his shoulders when he moved to Stamford Bridge, due to the hype surrounding his arrival.

But the Spaniard failed to make an impression on the scoresheet, scoring just 15 goals in his 48 games.

After initially signing for the club on a five year deal, Morata was eventually loaned out to Atletico Madrid on an 18-month deal.

Atletico signed him on a permanent deal later, although he was loaned out to Juventus soon after in September, 2020.


Transfer fees: €60m ($87m AUD) from RB Leipzig in 2020

playing record 23 goals in 89 appearances

Werner was one of the hottest properties on the football transfer market as European giants came looking to sign the star striker after an incredible spell at RB Leipzig.

During his four years at the German club, Werner scored 90 goals and had 40 assists from 156 competitive games.

Liverpool were also believed to be in the hunt for his signature, before he completed an expensive move to Chelsea on a five-year deal.

But the German quickly fell out of favor at Chelsea, having scored just 23 goals in 89 appearances.

With Chelsea reportedly looking to sign some strikers in the ongoing transfer window, the 26-year-old left the club and returned to RB Leipzig.


Transfer fees: £97.5m ($167m AUD) from Inter Milan in 2021

Playing record: 15 goals in all competitions from 44 games

Belgian Romelu Lukaku may have had a fairly expensive price tag to his name last year, but that didn’t stop Chelsea from making another mind-blowing investment in their future.

Once again, the Blues broke their transfer record to sign the striker from Italian giants Inter Milan.

Romelu Lukaku was a marquee signing for Chelsea, but he failed to make his mark on the scoresheet. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

With their Champions League glory still fresh in the minds of football fans, Chelsea managed to lure the powerful striker back to Stamford Bridge on an incredible transfer.

Despite their European success, Chelsea had come fourth in the Premier League the year before, but this signing was widely considered to be a difference maker.

Many believed that Lukaku could fire for the Blues after a previous stint at the club earlier in his career, before more well-known and successful stints with the likes of Everton and Manchester United.

But it was a disastrous return to the Premier League for Lukaku, who scored just eight goals before completing a loan move back to Inter Milan – and leaving the number nine jersey vacant.



Manchester United results, UK media reaction to defeat to Brentford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Erik Ten Hag, Liverpool

Manchester United slumped to a 30-year low as their shocking start to their Premier League campaign continued, proving again when it rains it really does pour.

And monsoon season might be rolling in at Old Trafford ahead of a crunch clash with fierce rivals Liverpool next week.

After losing their opening match of the season at home against Brighton, United were heavily favored to bounce back against Brentford on Sunday morning (AEST).

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But disaster struck, with a goalkeeping howler from David de Gea allowing the Bees to strike first in what would become a 4-0 first-half riot at the Gtech Community Stadium.

It’s safe to say few saw that coming.

Manager Erik ten Hag, much like the rest of the world, was left stunned as the halftime whistle marked both a moment of reprieve and realization for the Red Devils.

The damage had already been done by that point, though, as a scoreless second period saw United languish at the bottom of the Premier League table for the first time in 30 years.

This is also the first time since 1936 United have lost seven straight away league games, while Brentford recorded the biggest win in the top division since 1938.

Premier League greats Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp reached their boiling points after the abysmal display, as the extent of the defeat added more chaos to the existing drama the club.

“At this moment in time, it’s really desperate. There’s no leadership, there’s no voice, you can’t blame the individual player or the manager, you’ve got to look above and look to the very top,” Neville said on SkySports.

“This week, they’re going to get peppered those players, the coach, the sporting department, the new CO – they’re all going to get peppered. But there’s a family over there in America who are just literally letting their employees take all the hits for them – and that is unforgivable.”

Frustration, shock and disappointment was felt across the country with many of the UK’s leading football scribes weighing in on the reality facing the English giants – if they’re still worthy of that moniker.


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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the wheel for the Red Devils until he very much wasn’t, as a poor run of form saw the former United star fired.

Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, another two managers who promised so much before they were sacked, still hadn’t sunk as low as Erik ten Hag after just two matches in charge.

Ten Hag is the first United manager to lose his first two league games since John Chapman in 1921.

Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton told the BBC United have “hit rock bottom”, while Sky Sports pundit Karen Carney believes that the club “can’t get any lower”.

Premier League legend Alan Shearer believes that issues have been festering for years at the famous club.

Shearer added that the Red Devils are currently “miles away” from the level that they should be playing at — and even suggested recent speculation about a shock move for 33-year-old striker Marko Arnautović may have been an inside job.

“I’m convinced that someone from Man United’s leaked the story linking them with (Marko) Arnautovic, just to see what the reaction was,” Shearer said on Match of the Day.

“I think that sort of sums up where United are.

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“They’re in a mess and it’s going to take time, an unbelievable amount of money to get things right inside the football club and in terms of the right recruitment and it’s going to take a lot of patience from the Manchester United fans because of where they are now to where they want to be – miles away.”

The Telegraph’s Jim White didn’t mince his words as he provided his analysis of United’s “humiliation”, saying that it was the worst performance he’s ever seen by the club.

“Having watched Manchester United for over 50 years, this performance against Brentford is without question the worst I have ever seen them deliver,” White wrote.

“The grim times of Dave Sexton, the misery of the David Moyes era, the negativity of Louis van Gaal, all looked like halcyon days compared to this performance.

“No joy, no coherence, no spirit: this was a team in name only, delivering the kind of performance that Frenkie de Jong would have had on the phone to his agent with instructions to quickly follow up any interest from Chelsea.

“Mistakes happen. But it was the response to that setback that spoke so damagingly of what is going on at Old Trafford. Instead of launching the kind of fight back that once characterized the club, United folded.

“Everywhere they looked hapless, hopeless and haunted.”

Goalkeeper David de Gea, who was once considered to be one of the best players in the world in his position, had an outing to forget in what is becoming a key issue for the club.

Two mistakes from goalkeeper David de Gea saw Manchester United trail 2-0 to Brentford early in their clash on Sunday (AEST).  (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Two mistakes from goalkeeper David de Gea saw Manchester United trail 2-0 to Brentford early in their clash on Sunday (AEST). (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson said that while de Gea was still an “excellent shot-stopper”, that his inability to play with the ball at his feet was an issue.

“Can you play out from the back with De Gea? De Gea remains, despite Saturday’s howler, an excellent shot-stopper, which is why last season he was named United’s player of the year for the fourth time,” Wilson wrote.

“But there is a reason he has not played for Spain since October 2020 and why he has apparently fallen behind Brentford’s David Raya in the pecking order.

“He is simply not comfortable on the ball. Last season he completed just 71.3% of his passes. By comparison, Ederson completed 88.1% and Alisson 87.1%.

“While it’s true that’s partly because De Gea was encouraged to play more longer balls, it’s also true that one of the reasons United played more longer balls is De Gea.

Man U HOWLERS gift Brentford goals! | 01:17

“This is a major problem for United: De Gea is one of the few United players who has performed consistently in recent years and yet those struggles with the ball at his feet make it very hard for them to switch to a modern style.

“That, perhaps, is the most disconcerting thing for United. This is supposed to be ten Hag’s honeymoon period, but already he looks in danger of being overwhelmed by just how shambolic the club is … And they’ve got Liverpool next.”

The Athletic’s Adam Crafton said “each week manages to conjure a new sense of stupefying shock” when it came to United, with their fans ruthlessly mocked at half-time.

“At halftime, Brentford, who had not beaten Manchester United since 1938, led their opponents. And this was more than a lead. This was 4-0 and deservedly so,” Crafton wrote.

“There was, in the press box, almost a numbing madness to it all. Brentford’s supporters, too, stared at one another, open-mouthed.

“They taunted their United opponents, telling them they’d be ‘going down with the Fulham’. Fulham, on two points after two games compared to United’s zero, may be offended by the comparison.”

The Red Devils appear to be at a crossroads after failing to sign Arnautovic, as well as other players during the English summer.

Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford for what feels like forever, although Chelsea have since emerged as another potential destination.

According to the BBC, United have spent £672 million ($1.14 billion AUD) since winning their last major trophy in 2017, which was the Europa League.

So far during the transfer window, United have signed Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

Club great Rio Ferdinand said that he feels “sorry” for ten Hag after an uneventful transfer window has so far failed to add key players to a struggling squad.

“I don’t feel sorry for the players, I feel sorry for ten Hag,” Ferdinand told the Vibe with Five podcast.

“He’s coming under false pretenses. He’s coming expected new signings.

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“He’s probably sitting there thinking, ‘I’ve been sold a dummy here. I didn’t know I was coming into this’.

“This is an indefensible situation right now because it’s so bad, it’s terrible.

“I mean, we’re only two games in, but we’re two games in on the back of what happened last season as well by the way.

“I wouldn’t blame ten Hag right now. You can pick at his team selection or whatever but this is a bigger problem, a wider problem.”

Midfielder Bruno Fernandes, meanwhile, has been accused of getting “away with murder” on the football field by a former Premier League striker.

Gabby Agbonlahor blasted the Portuguese star on the well-known British radio station talkSPORT.

“For me, Fernandes, since he’s been in the Premier League, yes he’s had great stats, goal scoring and assists but he looks like the worst teammate,” Agbonlagor said.

“Every time a player gives it away, every time he gives it away, he throws his arms up at his teammates, he throws his arms up at the bench.

“I’ve played with players like him, you’d be smoking at him. He’ll press now and then. If that was Paul Pogba they would be slaughtering Pogba in the media.

“Fernandes gets away with murder. Did you see Fernandes do anything? It’s easy to say (Harry) Maguire, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Marcus) Rashford, (Jadon) Sancho.”

The Red Devils failed to qualify for this year’s Champions League after finishing sixth in the 2021/22 Premier League season – 35 points behind champions Manchester City.

While they appear set to sign Adrien Rabiot from Juventus, French journalist Julien Laurens also slammed United’s transfer strategy.

“They are not helping themselves,” Laurens told BBC Radio 5 Live’s EuroLeagues podcast.

“The non-existence of a transfer strategy, not just now but since Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) left, is not just baffling, it’s outrageous.”

The club have reached a new low as a non-league side threw a jab, literally laughing in the wake of United’s horror loss.

Oldham Athletic’s chairman Frank Rothwell was interviewed after his side’s 3-2 win over Dorking Wanderers, where he made the most of his chance to have a dig.

“Do you know what’s happening to United?” Rothwell said, before he reportedly began to laugh.

Manchester United face rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Tuesday week and when it comes to their future



South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dylan Edwards on Latrell Mitchell’s form, are Rabbitohs contenders, Matty Johns

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards admits that Latrell Mitchell looks like he’s going to have an impact “every time” he gets the ball, ahead of their crunch clash on Thursday.

Mitchell has been in sensational form for South Sydney since returning from an almost three month injury lay-off against the Eels in early July.

The 25-year-old has been as his rampaging best with 42 tackle busts in just seven games, as well as 10 try assists, and four tries of his own.

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But his best performance of the year may have come against the Eels on Friday night, where he ran for an incredible season-high of 211 meters.

Rival fullback Edwards, who is a chance to return against Mitchell’s Rabbitohs on Thursday, was full of praise for the former Origin star.

“It looks like something’s going to happen every time he touches the ball,” Edwards said on Sunday Night with Matty Johns.

“(He’s) Pretty hard to tackle at the moment.”

South Sydney have made the most of Mitchell’s stellar form, winning six of their last seven to rise up the NRL ladder.

That one loss came in a golden point thriller against Cronulla, with Mitchell missing multiple field goal attempts that would’ve handed his side a key two-points.


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But Matty Johns still wasn’t convinced by the emerging premiership contenders, comparing them to a “nice Sunday drive” on his SEN radio show last week.

Johns believed that the Rabbitohs needed to maintain a higher level of intensity for 80 minutes, but his wish became a reality on Friday night.

“I’ve been waiting for this for South Sydney, an 80 minute effort and they certainly did it,” Johns said.

Crucially Cody Walker found his best football. The crucial thing for Cody is watching how he played his football game, is that Cody had more of a focus on the middle of the field if that makes sense.

“Linking with (Damien) Cook when Cook took off, rather than just trying to create numbers for his outside men.

“It was a performance where Cody just focused on Cody, and I thought that brought his best football out.”

Five-eighth Cody Walker scored two tries and forced two dropouts during what was one of his best games in Rabbitohs colors in recent memory.

Walker scored the opening points of the night after a clever link-up play with hooker Damien Cook caught Parramatta napping.

South Sydney Rabbitohs press conference | 06:28

Later on, the 32-year-old was in the right place at the right time as the ball fell to him, and allowed him to double his try scoring tally for the night.

Eels great Nathan Hindmarsh thought that Walker’s brilliance along, with Mitchell’s dominance, helped spur Souths on to a win over a “lethargic” Eels.

“Latrell playing back at his best, and then he can dominate the edges like he did on the weekend, so that leaves Cody with the opportunity to do what he does around the ruck,” Hindmarsh said.

“They just had tried. They had more intent than the Eels did, the Eels looked lethargic at times, well most of the time to be honest with you.

“Souths had this in them. They did it to the Eels earlier on in the season, they’re a dangerous side South Sydney.

“For me the disappointing thing for the Eels (was) not to score any points.”

While Souths would need an incredible win, and for the Storm to lose, to move into the top four, a win on Thursday will have a crucial say on how the ladder shapes up at the end of the season.

While Melbourne currently occupy fourth spot, they have three tough games to play against finals hopefuls Brisbane, the Roosters, and then the Eels.

However, it doesn’t get much easier for the Rabbitohs who have their own dates with destiny against the Cowboys and Roosters to finish the regular season.



Canberra Raiders, Ricky Stuart suspension, St George, NRL finals, playoff picture, top eight, the run home, rugby league, suspension

NRL great Cameron Smith believes Raiders coach Ricky Stuart got off lightly after he received a one game ban for a post-match spray about Panthers playmaker Jaeman Salmon.

Stuart was also issued with a $25,000 fine after calling Salmon “a weak-gutted dog” after Canberra’s 26-6 to Penrith last Saturday.

The veteran coach will miss his side’s crunch match with St George on Sunday, as the Raiders look to keep their dwindling hopes of finals football alive.

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As reported by Fox Sports’ James Hooper, Stuart also can’t attend training sessions or contract anyone at the club for seven days from when the punishment was handed down.

speaking on The Captains Runformer Melbourne Storm captain Smith said that he was expecting Stuart to be issued with at least a two-game suspension for his spray.

“With the Salmon family situation, are they still seeking some legal advice on the situation? That’s always an option for them because without a doubt it’s defamation, every day of the week,” Smith said onSEN 1170 Radio.

“I was shocked Kempy (Denan Kemp), I was really shocked. I don’t know how you felt about it but I was extremely shocked when I heard the comments from Ricky.

“We’ve all seen him have his say in post-match press conferences and at times he has certainly pushed the boundaries as far as comments and remarks around officials and what happened on the game.

“That was just a clear crossing of the line. You just don’t go there in that forum.

“He said as much in the days post the comments that he made that it was the wrong thing to do. Now he’s coped a week for it.


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“I thought that it was quite light to be honest, one week. Fairly significantly fine involved, $25,000, it’s a lot of money.

“I actually thought it was going to be more around a minimum of two weeks suspension from the club.”

While Stuart has never been afraid to express how he’s feeling after a match, both Smith and co-host Denan Kemp agreed that a line had been crossed.

Kemp said that a one match suspension was still “reasonable” considering how the Raiders are placed on the ladder, but still felt that the comments had fallen into a “no go zone”.

“If I’m being honest, I used to enjoy his blow-ups. I really did. As a footy fan I thought it was great that we had this guy that sometimes crossed the line, but I think the key for me was always it was about the football with professionals,” Kemp said.

“Whether he’s having a crack at the refs or whoever it was, they’re professionals, they’re apart of the game, and he’s having his opinion on that situation. That’s where I can go ‘you know what, I kind of like the passion’.

“The line is when it’s not at football, and once you get across that line, it’s a no go zone.

Cleary backs NRL over Stuart suspension | 02:44

“The reason why I’m a bit surprised he only got one week was because he obviously has formed, he’s got I think it was $160,000 worth of fines now.

“I’m still happy with a week. His team is at a very crucial point in the season right now, they need to win every single game pretty much.

Canberra are still in with a chance of playing finals football this season as they continue the run home with four games left to be played.

They’re two competition points behind eighth-place Sydney Roosters, but have a significantly worse point’s differential which could work against them.

Smith thinks that they’ll overcome the loss of their coach to incredibly make the finals, as they have the “softest run” of any team currently in the mix.



South Sydney Rabbitohs, Latrell Mitchell, Matty Johns, premiership race, rugby league, New South Wales, Parramatta Eels, top four race

Matty Johns believes that South Sydney can “come from nowhere” to win the NRL premiership this season, but only if they address a potentially decisive part of their game.

South Sydney can move up to fifth on the ladder if they beat Parramatta in a crunch clash at CommBank Stadium on Friday night.

Both teams will be looking to keep their top four hopes alive with a win in the blockbuster, while the loser could risk dropping down the ladder.

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The Rabbitohs began their impressive run of form against Parramatta early last month, recording the first of four consecutive wins.

After wins over the struggling Newcastle Knights and Bulldogs, Souths made a statement with a 12-point win over the Melbourne Storm.

While they lost in golden point the week after against the Sharks, they bounced back with an emphatic win over the Warriors on the Sunshine Coast.

But not everyone is sold on their recent successes, with Matty Johns comparing the team to a “nice Sunday drive.”

“South Sydney, their recent performances remind me of someone taking a nice Sunday drive, and I mean that both in praise and criticism,” Johns said on SEN’s Morning Glory.

“Watching South Sydney, and I think it’s a bad practice, it’s something they’ve got to be really careful of, they’re lifting the intensity only when they think they need to.

“That’s a concern because intensity and focus and poise under pressure is not something you just reach for out of the kit bag and say ‘alright we’re gonna do it now’.

“Last week I was expecting a real statement game against the Warriors, and they delivered in the first-half. Their intent and their blueprint (on) how they played their best football was the evidence.

Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell has been in some sensational form for the Rabbitohs since returning from injury. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“But the second-half there was just no intensity in the contest… and I’m probably knit-picking a little bit because I do like to see coaches showing a range of emotions, but in that second-half when they were really wiping the floor with the Warriors, whenever they cut up to the coaches box the whole coaching staff were really pissing themselves laughing.

“That’s almost a little bit symbolic of where Souths are. It’s got to start tonight, they’ve got to start to lift and they’ve got to start to play with finals intensity football.”

Latrell Mitchell has been in sensational form for the Rabbitohs, after returning from an almost three month absence against the Eels.

Mitchell has had nine try assists since returning just over one month ago, as well as 33 tackle breaks and four tries.

While the Rabbitohs have largely reaped the rewards since he returned, although Johns issued the team with a warning.

“Latrell plays his best football when he’s relaxed. He’s come back from the States really relaxed, and his touch from him, the way he’s playing is just superb, but it does n’t mean that the rest of the side play their best relaxed, ”he added.

“At the moment there’s a reliance on ‘Trell will get it done’. When you’ve got players like Latrell Mitchell in your football side, they are the icing on the cake. They’re the one who can actually get it done for you.

“But you can’t rely on them. Even with Andrew Johns in our side, our forwards were tearing heads off, hitting the line that hard… If suddenly we went out there and say ‘Joey will get us home’, it just doesn’t happen.”

Storm sizzle poor Panthers | 02:01

Despite a tough run home, in which they play the Eels, Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters, Johns believes they can go all the way.

“The way they’re playing, that relaxed style, and the fact they’re playing within themselves and winning, well done to you boys. But they’re in a position, in my opinion, they can win this competition.

“They can come from nowhere and win this competition but they will not win it with the way they’re playing at the moment.

“It’s nothing about talent or anything like that, they’ve just got to develop, in the next few weeks, a really hard edge, and tonight’s a perfect opportunity.”



Isaiah Papali’i Wests Tigers backflip; Tim Sheens, Benji Marshall, team news, 2023 roster, Luke Brooks future

The Wests Tigers have been told to “win the war” over star recruit Isaiah Papali’i as the club faces a “massive moment” in its history.

The Eels enforcer was seen as a major coup when he inked a three-year $1.9 million deal in November.

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But the 23-year-old is reportedly weighing up his future after the Tigers parted ways with premiership winning coach Michael Maguire.

It is the first major challenge for the Tigers new coaching group of Tim Sheens, Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah, one that could shape the immediate future of the embattled club.

Speaking on NRL360, the Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield said it was vital that the club made sure Papali’i honored his lucrative contract.

“It’s no good the Wests Tigers having the new Sheens-Benji combination at the head of the club if they’re going to back down on something like this,” Rothfield said on Wednesday.

“It’s a crunch signing for them, as important as Api (Koroisau). They’ve got to stay strong.”

Papali’i was widely seen as one of the best new buys in the competition in 2021, as he was included in the Dally M Team of the Year after a stellar first season in blue and gold.

The talented forward played 25-games for the Eels last season, having scored seven tries, averaged 150 running meters per game, and made more than 800 tackles.

What’s more, his signature saw the Tigers part ways with the likes of Luke Garner and Luciano Leilua.

Isaiah Papali'i could backflip on his Tigers deal.
Isaiah Papali’i could backflip on his Tigers deal.Source: Getty Images

NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent said the saga surrounding Papali’i had seen the club reach a crossroads.

“It’s a massive moment in the club and the new future of the club, given the new appointment of the coaches,” he said.

Kent then questioned the re-signing of Brent Naden after the club announced this week he had inked an extension until the end of the 2025 season.

“If you’re going to go out and sell your club, Brent Naden is not the guy you’re going to go ‘look who we’ve just signed, come and play with us’,” Kent said.

“They’ve got to win the war of Papali’i first.”

Co-host Braith Anasta was also surprised by the Naden announcement and the club needed to identify what a Wests Tigers player represents.

“They’ve got the opportunity here, the Wests Tigers, and you see it with the Bulldogs at the moment, to start from the bottom up again,” Anasta said.

“They’ve got Sheens, they’ve got Marshall, great look, you want to attract players. You want to attract the right players from the start, set the tone.

“What sort of personality are you looking for? What sort of player do you want to be a Wests Tigers player? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Brent Naden signed an extension with the Tigers this week.Source: Getty Images

The Australian’s Brent Read said the Naden announcement, at a time where there is uncertainty surrounding a host of big-name Tigers stars, was not what fans wanted to see.

“He’s a tell me a dozen,” he said on NRL360.

“You know what the Wests Tigers fans want to hear about? They want to hear about (Adam) Doueihi, they want to hear about (Daine) Laurie, they want to hear about (Jackson) Hastings, they want to hear about (Luke) Brooks,” Read said.

“That’s what they care about. Brent Naden they can give or take, due respect to Brent Naden, but they want to hear what’s going on with those four blokes.”

Rothfield, however, said the club was right to lock Naden down.

“I think you’re being really unfair on that young fella, I really do,” he said.

“I think he’s a handy player,” Rothfield said. “You don’t let players go alright and handy players, you don’t not sign them.”

The drama surrounding the Tigers roster is unlikely to begin and end with Papali’i.

Luke Brooks has repeatedly been linked with a move to Newcastle despite denying he wants out.

Rumors about Luke Brooks’ future at the Tigers won’t go away.Source: Supplied

Fellow half Jackson Hastings’ future is also up in the air. The Sydney Morning Herald reported last month that Hastings, who has been playing lock, could be axed as part of a roster overhaul.

This report claimed there are people within the club who believe Hastings has had a negative influence on the playing group.

This week Rothfield then revealed another rumor surrounding Brooks which will do little to quell the feeling of uncertainty at Concord.

“There’s been all sorts of rumours,” he said.

“There was a strong one (Tuesday) that Luke Brooks was going to N and Frizell was coming to Wests Tigers as a swap. As an edge forward.

“Tim Sheens said it’s not happening but a lot of people saw it as insurance if Papali’i doesn’t come.”

Wests have also reportedly inquired about former Raiders second rower John Bateman, who is currently plying his trade back in England with Wigan.

The inquiry, as reported by Fox Sports’ James Hooper, is believed to be “unrelated to Isaiah Papali’i” and his contract drama.

“Tim’s got something going on cause I spoke to him this week, I asked him about Papali’i and he said ‘he’s coming and don’t worry there’s other stuff happening,” Read added.

“Edge backrower is an area that they need to address. He’d be a really handy one for them.”



Wests Tigers transfer news; Isaiah Papali’i future, Parramatta Eels, Brisbane Broncos, transfer rumours, David Klemmer, Corey Oates, Ben Hunt, Liam Martin, Martin Taupau, Tyson Frizell, Victor Radley

The Wests Tigers have been urged to “move on” from new recruit Isaiah Papali’i and use his $1.9 million contract to make a splash in the transfer market.

The Eels enforcer Isaiah had agreed to a three-year deal with the Tigers, but the star recruit is considering a backflip which could leave the club in a tough spot.

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The 23-year-old revealed his concerns after the Tigers parted ways with premiership winning coach Michael Maguire, and has since been linked with a return to the Warriors.

Papalii inked the big-money deal last November, but told 9 News that his future is still far from certain.

“Obviously people ask me about it, just even on the street or family and friends are hitting me up but that’s kind of for my manager look after and even if I don’t stay here or I do go next year, I want to make sure that this year has no regrets,” Papalii said.

“I reckon somewhere in the off-season because this is distracting me at the moment.

“We have a massive opportunity and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned this year and look back on it and think ‘I shouldn’t have left that stuff get in the way’.”

Tom Trbojevic reveals World Cup doubts | 01:12

The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio and NRL360 co-host Paul Kent said the Tigers could not afford to wait until the end of the season for Papali’i to make a decision.

“They have a salary cap to manage, they can’t sit back and wait for this guy,” Kent said.

“That’s why they the Tigers should move on now, move on and use the money before it’s too late,” Riccio added.

“Don’t wait until November. If they do there will be no market for them,” Kent replied.

Should Tigers hear the message and cut ties with Papali’i, it leaves them with two clear options.

Spend the money now and bring in a player to bolster the side for next season or save it up and make a play for one of the big-name stars off-contract from 2023 who can begin negotiating with rivals from November 1.


Age: 32

Club: St George Dragons

Position: half-back

Current contract: expires at the end of 2023

While the Dragons are reportedly leading the race for Hunt’s signature, the Tigers should do everything they can to ensure he’s wearing their colors in the future.

Hunt, who was leading the Dally M race before the count went behind closed doors, has begun negotiations with the Dragons over a two-year extension.

The Daily Telegraph have revealed that the playmaker’s management had met with the Dragons late last month.

Since then, however, the Dragons have hit turmoil.

James Hooper reported there had been a major blow-up at the Dragons following the treatment of hooker Andrew McCullough and the axing of assistant coaches Peter Gentle and Mat Head for next season.

Hunt is extremely close with McCullough, having played together at both the Dragons and Broncos as well as for Queensland. The development could provide an opening for rivals to make a move.

The Tigers, who would only be able to speak to Hunt since November 1, are in desperate need of a solution at halfback.

Jock Madden has been sporting the No. 7 jersey for the Tigers over the past couple of weeks, but with just 13 games of NRL experience to his name, the club could use a boost.

If Luke Brooks is allowed to leave it would free up plenty of money for the Tigers to make an all-in move.

Hunt is in high demand with a number of clubs interested in services, and he wouldn’t come cheap. But fresh off his Origin heroics, the Tigers should be willing to move mountains if that’s what it takes to lure the star half to the western suburbs.


Age: 27

Club: brisbane broncos

Position: wings

Current contract: expires at the end of the year

At just 27-years-old, there’s no reason why a club like the Tigers shouldn’t spend big money on a proven try scorer such as Corey Oates.

Oates, who has 188 NRL games to his name, equaled his record for most tries in a season with a double in Round 21 against the Roosters.

Corey Oats. Broncos V Storm. Picture: NRL ImagesSource: Supplied

Oates comes off contract at the end of this season with the Broncos, so he could become an immediate piece of the Tigers’ puzzle for next season.

He would also offer new coach Tim Sheens some versatility having experience playing in the back row.


Age: 28

Club: Newcastle Knights

Position: Prop

Current contract: expires at the end of 2023

Klemmer was reportedly close to having his contract torn up with the Knights after being issues with a breach notice for an on-field issue.

The former New South Wales prop is on a big-money contract with the Knights, but came under fire after he verbally abused trainer Hayden Knowles during a 14-point loss to the Bulldogs.

“A big overreaction’ Johns on Klemmer | 04:26

Parramatta were reportedly interested in signing the prop for the remainder of the 2022 season on loan before the incident.

While Klemmer has been among the Knights best players, the recent incident, and his hefty contract, could convince Newcastle to agree to release him early.


Age: 25

Club: Penrith Panthers

Position: second row

Current contract: expires at the end of 2023

Another player who comes off contract at the end of next season, Martin would be an incredible signing for the Tigers who could approach him from November 1.

Martin has been a key part of the Panthers’ dominance over the last few seasons and has reaped the rewards after cementing his place in the Blues Origin fold.

Liam Martin is among a list of big names who can talk with rivals since November 1.Source: Getty Images

The Panthers still need to lock down fellow Origin stars Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton which could mean Martin is gettable.

He would be a more than handy replacement for Papali’i if the Tigers can convince him to make the switch.


Age: 32

Club: Manly Sea Eagles

Position: second row

Current contract: expires at the end of the year

Sea Eagles enforcer Taupau reportedly requested an immediate release to join the Eels before the August 1 deadline.

It appears as if he wants out of Brookvale, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it’ll be interesting to see which colors he dons next season.

The former Kiwi international played for the Tigers for two seasons before moving to Manly for the 2016 season.

With plenty of power to throw around the field, Taupau can be an asset to any team when he’s in-form.


Age: 30

Club: Newcastle Knights

Position: second row

Current contract: expires at the end of 2023

It wasn’t too long ago that Tyson Frizell was a regular for both the New South Wales Blues and Kangaroos teams.

Frizell made his name with the Dragons before securing a lucrative deal to sign with the Knights, where he’s played the last two seasons.

Tyson FrizellSource: Getty Images

While he still has one more year to run on that contract, Frizell could potentially be lured to the Tigers on a smaller deal than what he’s on now.

What’s more, his name has been mentioned as part of a potential swap deal for Luke Brooks.

While it was denied by Tim Sheens, there is clearly some movement around Frizell.


Age: 24

Club: sydney roosters

Position: Lock

Current contract: expires at the end of 2023

Hypothetically speaking, Roosters lock Victor Radley has the potential to be an incredible signing for the Tigers.

The 24-year-old, who has sworn his international allegiance to England ahead of the World Cup, has premiership winning experience and 93 NRL games to his name.

What’s more, Phil Rothfield revealed on NRL360 that the Roosters are facing a cap crunch with seven players commanding more than half their salary cap.

It could open the door for the Tigers to swoop.



North Queensland Cowboys Tom Dearden was ‘shell of a person’ when he arrived from Brisbane, Todd Payten Face to Face interview

Cowboys coach Todd Payten has made a startling admission about young gun Tom Dearden, revealing the rising playmaker was a “shell of a person” when he arrived at the club.

Dearden, 21, was once heralded as a star of the future at the Brisbane Broncos before he reportedly fell out of favor with head coach Kevin Walters.

The five-eighth signed with rivals North Queensland on a three-year deal, and was later a granted a mid-season transfer.

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Papali’i to backflip on $1.9m & Tigers? | 07:26

Both clubs were struggling towards the bottom of the ladder, with the Broncos having claimed the wooden spoon for the first time in their history the season before.

While Dearden insisted that his confidence hadn’t taken a hit by how things turned out at the Broncos, coach Payten has now revealed he saw things differently.

“He was a shell of a person, I’ve got to say,” Payten told Matty Johns on Fox League’s face to face

“He was nervous and second guessing himself, whether it was on or off the pitch.

“What I did like about him was the way he trained. He’s super competitive, he’s really professional, and playing footy means something to him.

Tom Trbojevic reveals World Cup doubts | 01:12

“He’s wanted to play NRL since he was a kid and you can see that in the way he goes about it.”

North Queensland took a backwards step in 2021 and finished a place behind the Broncos in 15th.

But a stellar pre-season, with Dearden among the standouts, has thrust the club into premiership contention this year.

Payten said while the senior players helped lead the team throughout the successful pre-season, younger players including Dearden, Reuben Cotter and Tom Gilbert also impressed.

These players helped the Cowboys learn from their mistakes, as they trained by practicing things that “they weren’t expecting”.

“They train hard, everyone trains hard so that’s a given. Through our review, I’m talking about the coaches review… we watched all of the tries that we’d conceded which was not fun to view,” Payten said.


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“A lot of those, I think about 60 per cent of those would come from missed tackles that should’ve been made or guys not competing enough.

“We conceded the most tries from kicks in the competition and that affected our headspace in games. We’d defend two sets and then from a guy not getting their job done or someone not competing hard enough, we’d conceded a try.

“As soon as something upset the rhythm or went against them, we didn’t have the mental or physical capacity to get on with the job.

“(We had to) just build around upsetting rhythm in different ways. Doing things that they weren’t expecting to do at different times and causing a little bit of chaos and seeing how they handled it.

“We got better as the preseason went on.”

Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom DeardenSource: Supplied

Dearden has reaped the rewards of the Cowboys’ successful season, as they currently sit in second behind the Panthers, by making his Origin debut for Queensland.

The up-and-comer announced himself on one of the game’s biggest stages, as he helped inspire his state to win in the decider at Suncorp Stadium.



Tyson Fury comes out of retirement, Anthony Joshua, Derek Chisora, heavyweight blockbuster, announcement

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has announced that he’s coming out of his brief retirement from boxing to chase a unique piece of history.

Fury, 33, indicated in April that he was ready to walk away from the sport after his successful title defense against the heavy-hitting Dillian Whyte.

The Gypsy King was adamant that his fighting days were over after the fight with Whyte at Wembley, saying that “no amount of money” could change his mind, although many remained skeptical he had retired for good.

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Less than four months later, one of the biggest names in world sport will return to the boxing ring after calling out Derek Chisora ​​(33-12-0, 23 KOs) for a trilogy bout.

After a highly entertaining series of bouts against American Deontay Wilder, Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) said that he wants to become the first heavyweight to ever fight two different opponents three times.

“I’ve decided to come back to boxing because I can be the first heavyweight champion in history to have two trilogies, one with Deontay Wilder and a second one with Derek Chisora,” Fury said on video shared on his social media pages.

“I always said I’d fight Derek Chisora ​​at the end of my career and here we are, breaking all records again and setting precedents.”

Chisora ​​ended a three-fight losing run against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev (29-3-0, 14 KOs) last month by split decision.

The Zimbabwe-born fighter had lost to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk in 2020, before two consecutive losses to New Zealander Joseph Parker.

Fury also revealed that he has a new trainer, with boxer Isaac Lowe having taken the reigns ahead of the potentially “massive” fight with Chisora.

Lowe replaces the 33-year-olds previous trainer SuperHill Steward, who played a crucial role in Fury’s two wins over Wilder.

“Why I’ve chosen Isaac Lowe as my trainer is because when I was with Peter, Isaac with there. When I was with Ben (Davison), Isaac’s always been there,” Fury added.

“When I with SugarHill, Isaac’s always been there, he’s always given me information, he knows me better than anyone on the planet and we’re a good team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Tyson Fury celebrates victory after the WBC World Heavyweight Title Fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2022 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 23: Tyson Fury celebrates victory after the WBC World Heavyweight Title Fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***Source: Getty Images

“We’ve always been together and we’re going to finish this out together. We’ve always worked very well together and here we are, about to take on a massive, massive, massive event.”

Famous boxing promoter Eddie Hearn doesn’t believe that Fury is the biggest name in boxing anymore, with Anthony Joshua set to fight Usyk for his belts on August 21.

Fury became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when the then 27-year-old ended Wladimir Klitschko’s control over the division.

But with the world at his feet, the Englishman then fell into a deep depression and had planned to take his own life as he drove his Ferrari 190mph towards a bridge.

Gallen’s BIG plan: Two bouts, one night | 00:38

After putting on weight, getting bigger than 180 kilograms, Fury worked his way back to the ring and quickly became one of the biggest names in world sport once again.

While his showmanship both in and out of the ring has won him many fans, Hearn told GQ earlier this month that Joshua was still the biggest name in the sport.

With Fury having ended his retirement, the door remains open for a potential blockbuster against Joshua – which could be the biggest bout that the sport has seen since Fury’s date with destiny against Klitschko.



New Zealand, Trent Boult, Blackcaps, Australia, shock announcement, T20, ODI, Test cricket

The Blackcaps will begin a new era without one of their biggest stars after bowler Trent Boult was released from his central contract with New Zealand Cricket.

Boult will have a “significantly reduced role” across all three formats with the Blackcaps, according to a statement released by NZC.

The 33-year-old held multiple conversations with the country’s governing cricket body, before they agreed to his request on Wednesday so he can spend more time with his family.

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Boult has played a crucial role in New Zealand’s success on the world stage over the last decade, having taken 317 Test wickets, 169 in ODI’s and 62 in T20 internationals.

The talented left-armer sits at No. 1 on the ICC Men’s ODI Bowling Rankings, having taken 169 scalps at 25.21 since his international debut in 2011. He has also taken 317 Test wickets at 27.49.

The paceman said it was a “really tough decision” for him to make as he began to reflect on his decorated 12-year career with the New Zealand national teams.

“Playing cricket for my country was a childhood dream and I’m so proud of everything I’ve been able to achieve with the Blackcaps over the past 12 years,” Boult said.

“Ultimately this decision is about my wife Gert and our three young boys. Family has always been the biggest motivator for me and I feel comfortable with putting it first and preparing ourselves for life after cricket.”

Boult’s decision will likely have major implication for New Zealand cricket with Black Caps teammates potentially tempted to follow suit in bid to cash in on lucrative domestic T20 leagues.

The world cricket calendar is becoming tighter and tighter with the introduction of several privately-owned domestic leagues, including the United Arab Emirates’ International League T20 and South Africa’s newly-launched T20 competition.

Boult has played in an international final across all three formats, having tasted success in the inaugural World Test Championship final against India in England.

But while he’s been a mainstay of the New Zealand teams since making his Test debut in 2011 against Australia, he acknowledged that this decision would affect his chances of representing his country.

“I still have a great desire to represent my country and feel I have the skills to deliver at the international level. However, I respect the fact that not having a national contract will affect my chances of selection,” he added.

“Having said that, as a fast bowler I know I have a limited career span, and I feel the time is right to move into this next phase.”

Maxwell suffers back injury during win | 01:26

NZC chief executive David White said that Boult has been open about his decision, and why he requested to be released from his deal.

“We respect Trent’s position,” said Mr White. “He’s been completely honest and upfront with us about his reasoning about him and, while we’re sad to be losing him as a fully-contracted player, he leaves with our best wishes and our sincere thanks,” White said.

“Trent’s made a massive contribution to the Blackcaps since his Test debut in late 2011 and is now considered one of the best multi-format cricketers in the world. We’re very proud of what he’s achieved.”

According to NZC, Boult will still be available for national selection “if and when available”.