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Pearce, Brooks and Taylor? Slim pickings as NRL battlers consider halfback options

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26th August, 2021
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Mitch Pearce to France? Luke Brooks to Canberra or Canterbury? And Ash Taylor to Queensland park footy? The NRL silly season is ramping up and it’s the halfbacks set to dominate the conversation.

Almost every struggling club is chasing a quality half. Sadly, there’s not much available on the open market.

Not that a contract has ever got in the way of a club snaring their man before.

Of the teams most active when it comes to hunting a No.7, Canberra sits high on the list.

It comes at no surprise that they’ve been linked to several off-contract halves and even a few who have deals for next season.

Most recently Pearce, Brooks and, to a lesser extent, Taylor have all been linked to the nation’s capital.

Ash Taylor

Ash Taylor. (Photo by Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

At present, the Raiders are rolling with bit players Sam Williams and Matt Frawley.

They both could well re-sign beyond this season and the Green Machine sit tight until someone of note hits the market.

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Or, with Brooks reportedly on the nose at Wests Tigers, could he be a cheap option?

The Tigers have Jackson Hastings joining via the Super League next year and he is expected to take the role of shot-caller.

If the rumours circling Brooks are true, you’d expect the Tigers would be willing to chip in a partial payment to get him off their books.

But they may have some competition for him.

Kyle Flanagan is out of favour and Brooks’ name has been linked to Belmore. Pearce is also believed to be on the radar of Canterbury.

With Matt Burton at six and a game manager alongside him, it’s hard to not get a little excited.

There’s also been a whisper around NRL circles that Brooks could be on the radar of the Sharks.

Cronulla welcome Nicho Hynes in 2022 but with Hynes expected to play five-eighth, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Craig Fitzgibbon hit the market for an experienced No.7 ahead of Braydon Trindall.

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Time will tell.

The other club who hasn’t been active in the market for an experienced No.7 but sure could use one, is South Sydney.

With Adam Reynolds moving to Brisbane next year, the Bunnies have Cody Walker, while Anthony Milford will join the team on a cut-price deal.

The list of players without a contract is skinny.

Corey Norman remains unsigned, as does Benji Marshall. Although the latter has not publicly declared whether he has a desire to play on beyond this season.

Norman has been linked with a move to the UK with Wigan and Catalans seeking a half for next season.

Pearce has also been linked with the French based club, although he has another year to run on his deal with Newcastle and showed his quality in Thursday’s thrilling 15-14 win over the Titans.

Titans duo Ashley Taylor and Tanah Boyd are off-contract, as is Knights back-up Phoenix Crossland, Storm back-up Ryley Jacks, Bulldog and former Raider Lachlan Lewis and Warriors back-up Sean O’Sullivan.

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Things are so grim that it’s been speculated that Taylor could end up without an NRL opportunity next year and playing park footy. It’s a suggestion hard to swallow.

Taylor is no marquee and the days of commanding top dollar are well behind him but he’s a handy back-up or project player for any coach willing to back themselves to bring the best out of him.

As the season winds down, the transfer moves still to play out will sure make for interesting viewing throughout the finals.

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