Tahu talks up Gasnier, but Dragons in the dark
Parramatta’s prodigal son Timana Tahu claims it would take Mark Gasnier “one or two games” to rediscover the form that made him the world’s best rugby league centre.
However, his prospective St George Illawarra teammates are none the wiser as to whether the former Dragons skipper will return to the club.
With speculation mounting that Gasnier is set to turn his back on rugby union and return to the NRL within weeks, Tahu – who has made a strong comeback to rugby league after a brief sojourn in the 15-man game – said he had no doubts the former Test centre could once again be a force in rugby league.
“Probably one or two games,” Tahu said when asked how long it would take Gasnier to find his feet.
“A lot of it’s going to be brain-training really more than anything else, he’s played the game since he was a little kid, he wouldn’t have lost anything.
“People were looking at me and Lote (fellow rugby league returnee Lote Tuqiri) for example, saying have they still got it, are they going to be as good as what they were before, the game’s changed.
“Everyone had all the excuses and I think Lote’s been playing awesome this year and could even make the Origin side.
“For me making Country this year, I’ve made a representative team and we’ve squashed those critics.
“So for Gaz to come back, I think he’s one of the best players in rugby league so for him it’s going to be no problem at all.”
The bigger problem seems to be fitting the 28-year-old under the Dragons’ salary cap, with speculation the club has weighed in with a three-year deal worth $1.4 million which is heavily backended and reliant on third party deals.
While Gasnier or his manager George Mimis have yet to close the door on a move to the Super 15, it is believed they baulked at a two-year deal from the Melbourne Rebels.
That offer would have netted Gasnier just over $400,000 a season, but only if he played in the majority of Tests for the Wallabies.
Dragons skipper Ben Hornby, who admitted he had been in regular contact with Gasnier during his 18 months playing rugby union in France, said he was not privy to negotiations between the in-demand star and the club.
“We don’t know much more than you blokes (the media) but obviously we’ve spoken to him – but he doesn’t know himself at the moment so it’s all up in the air,” Hornby said.
“He’s an Australian player so he’s going to add a lot isn’t he – that little bit of x-factor I think.
“If it comes off it’s great, other than that, we’re not thinking about it.”
Asked how he and his teammates had managed to ignore the issue, Hornby said:
“Because we’ve got games to win and at the moment Mark Gasnier can’t help us win games so we’ve got to go out each week and try and win the games.”
Gasnier’s possible return has had some pundits speculating he could be a shock inclusion in the NSW Origin side at some stage in this year’s series, which Tahu refused to discount.
“I reckon he could,” he said.
“If NSW wanted him he’d be able to slip straight back into the team, he’d handle it no problem.
“That’s the thing about Gaz, he’s a naturally talented athlete and it looks like he’s still got it.”© AAP 2013
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