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Rumoured Targets 3


He's the boom North Queensland Cowboys forward squarely in the sights of the Newcastle Knights. The Knights, who have made no secret of their desire to strengthen their backrow stocks, are understood to be right in the mix alongside a number of rival NRL clubs to sign towering 20-year-old edge backrower Heilum Luki for 2023. Luki, who scored a try in his NRL debut off the bench last season against the Knights in Townsville, was the Cowboys' rookie of the year and is regarded as one of the best young forward prospects in the game. He has a year to run on his current contract. Only a week ago, league great Laurie Daley questioned the Cowboys' decision to sign Wests Tigers backrower Luciano Leilua to a long term deal, believing it may potentially cost the club Luki's signature and that of 18-year-old forward Jeremiah Nanai. Wests Tigers have made a play for Nanai while Luki is also believed to be on The Dolphins' radar. Daley said of Luki on the Big Sports Breakfast: "He is a good player. I watched him play a couple of games, he's a big, rangy forward, he's only young. He's going to be something special I reckon." Luki played 11 top-grade games last season, three in the starting side, and has an imposing on-field presence, standing 195cms tall and weighing 103kgs. Departed Knight Mitchell Pearce has been back in Newcastle this week for a final catch-up with teammates and staff before he leaves for France and the Catalan Dragons after Christmas. A group of around 40 gathered for dinner at Parry Street Garage on Wednesday night for the farewell with the veteran halfback leaving on really good terms despite the publicity surrounding his release from the final year of his contract. Pearce won't be completely lost to Newcastle. He is hanging onto his house in Merewether after opting to rent it out while he is overseas rather than sell it. Don't miss our wide-ranging interview with Pearce in Monday's Newcastle Herald. His return is not set in stone just yet but there is a lot of positivity around Edrick Lee and a possible return for the Knights next season. Lee missed the entire 2021 season and there were fears he may not play again after a broken bone in his foot refused to heal. But finally, after delicate surgery to repair the damage was successful, he is back running freely, albeit only straight line running at this stage. He is currently only on a train and trial deal with the club but provided there are no setbacks, a player from the top squad may have to be moved on to make room for the rangy winger. Highly-regarded prop Jesse Sue is struggling to be fit for the start of the 2022 season after being forced to undergo two off-season shoulder surgeries. It's understood the tough-as-teak forward's initial reconstructive surgery back in October wasn't a complete success and he was forced to go under the knife a second time, leaving him next to no chance of being available for kick-off in March. Backrower Jack Johns is another absentee from pre-season training after complications following his shoulder reconstruction. There were no surprises when Kalyn Ponga and the always super-fit Chris Randall finished ahead of the rest in the Knights' traditional pre-season speed endurance test when training kicked off last week. But the big mover in the 1.2 km time trial was Kurt Mann, who finished just behind in third place, shaving six seconds off his previous best time. Another star performer, who has the coaching and performance staff raving about him, is big Dom Young, who we're told finished fourth. Triple M Newcastle's 2019 Knights call team of Frank Barrett, Michael Hagan, Marc Glanville and Matt Rodwell have been recognised for excellence after winning a coveted Australia Commericial Radio Award [ACRA] this week.


We haven’t had much luck with big surgeries in the last couple of years..

Edrick, Sue, Johns, could maybe add Ponga’s shoulder recovery to that too..


It is hard to believe South Sydney, jointly owned by two billionaires and an actor, is so cheap the club refuses to pay Anthony Milford his wage while he lives in Sydney and trains alone.

Milford is caught in his very own Catch-22.

His contract won’t be registered because he faces assault charges and the NRL has a strict no-fault stand down policy. Yet Milford cannot be subject to the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy because he does not have a registered contract.

So, he finds himself in No Man’s Land, caught up in the kind of bureaucratic absurdity that allows South Sydney to not pay him with a bizarre sense of self-justification.

Milford signed a contract with South Sydney in July and, for all intents, thought he was heading to the Rabbitohs once his contract began on November 1.

The Rabbitohs even paid for his flights to Sydney and reimbursed him his moving costs.

They paid for his temporary accommodation and a rental car and they paid for a personal trainer to help him get a jump-start on conditioning.

To many, this would suggest Milford has a contract with the club.

But halfway through November, Milford discovered, by complete accident, his contract was not registered at all and that he was, effectively, unsigned.

He would have found out soon enough. He was due to be paid that month.

It seems a simple mistake but the Rabbitohs have used it to their advantage.

It seems that a couple of weeks after he signed his contract in July, the NRL sent it back to the Rabbitohs in mid-August telling them there was a “technicality”.

The NRL told the Rabbitohs the statutory declaration was not correctly witnessed.

Milford does not know whether this error was on his part or on Souths part. He was not told.

If the error was his, then Souths should have told him and corrected it. If the error was on their part, they should have fixed it and returned the contract to the NRL.

Whatever the error was, though, South Sydney failed to fix it in August.

And they failed to fix it in all of September and all of October.

Milford is still trying to find out who made the mistake on his contract.

He signed the contract during the Covid lockdown, the protocols of which meant he was allowed to have only one person from outside the bubble with him.

That person was his manager Sam Ayoub, who had to be there to co-sign the contract.

This meant the witness had to witness the signatures by video conference.

Milford was assured beforehand this was completely legal.

From here, it all becomes a shifting narrative, the actions taken seemingly adjusted to suit the situation. The Rabbitohs registered the contract with the NRL in August but had it sent back to them a week later.

Why it was not immediately fixed, why he was not told, has not been explained to him.

It gets complicated, though, because in September Milford was charged with three counts of assault and wilful damage of a vehicle.

The Rabbitohs seem to be leveraging this for all it is worth.

On the charges, there are already events that have passed that cannot be reported.

This has made it more difficult for Milford to explain his case.

And from everybody else’s perspective, the whole conversation around it changes dramatically depending on what happens when Milford goes to court in, hopefully, February.

In a bid to continue playing, Milford offered to explain to the NRL Integrity Unit the events that night to provide a fuller picture of what happened.

Already his lawyer, Dave Garratt, is preparing to fight the charges.

“I have viewed the footage and Anthony is definitely defending himself in relation to the alleged assaults against any females,” Garratt said on Friday.

Two Wednesdays ago, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, integrity unit boss Joe Collins and Souths officials, including chief executive Blake Solly and coach Jason Demetriou, listened to Milford and watched the security footage that captured the incident.

The hope was the NRL would witness the footage and align their thinking with Garratt and overrule the NRL’s stand-down policy.

The precedent was when former NRL boss Todd Greenberg watched Curtis Scott’s arrest and, based on what he saw of the police bodycam footage, allowed Scott to continue playing.

Scott won his court case and is now suing NSW Police.

But this time, different boss, different outcome.

After the meeting, the NRL told Milford his and his family’s welfare was a priority.

They shook hands and Milford has not heard from the NRL since.

Then this week, the NRL announced that it would not be registering Milford’s contract until his legal matters were settled.

He could live with that, too, even though the contract was supposed to be registered well before the alleged incident happened.

But if he is not a contracted Souths player, why did the club pay his moving fees, his car rental, his flights to Sydney, pay for a trainer — all of which was done after charges were pressed?

Instead of helping him, being all they pretend to be, the Rabbitohs are distancing themselves from him.

What this all means effectively, is that the Rabbitohs, the Pride of the League, supposedly, and now owned by billionaires James Packer (worth $4.3 billion) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (worth $32 billion) and actor Russell Crowe (estimated to be worth about $100 million), don’t have to pay Milford the wages he should be due.

Last month he was not paid a cent by the Rabbitohs, because he has no registered contract.

There is nothing worse than a rich club that won’t spend money.

Should the Knights swoop?
Milford outside Clifford.. he doesn’t have to worry about kicking and game management.
Just run son!


Souths never officially registered a contract even before all the shenanigans so he is actually a free agent.

Loose Cannon

Milford’s agent sure would be keen to speak to the Knights.

We have the biggest KFC in Australia (Hunter St), and the world’s first drive-thru (Broadmeadow).

He would certainly enjoy the lifestyle Newcastle can offer.🍗🍗🍗


Risk Vs Reward.
There was a period a few years back when he was one of the best players in the game.
That sort of talent just doesn’t disappear and he’s still only 27.
He’s definitely worth a punt for a year if you can sign him for cheap.
He will be either hungry for success or hungry for a family box.


Definitely not while he’s got an assault charge hanging over him.

If that wasn’t the case then Milford on $100K-$200K is pretty good value.


Not at all optimistic he'll get back close to what he once was, but if you can get him cheap for 1 season, maybe with a club option for a second, it's worth taking a punt on. If he can't earn a starting halves spot over Clune or Crossland then you can well and truly put a fork in him.


You could bet there would be some legal stoush follow if we did sign him given he has signed with Souths, though not registered. I guess it depends on whose side the error is on with the witness thing.

If Milford could get back to just being a running 5/8 he might work out. But I have my doubt he has the motivation to do anything now but milk as much as he can from whats left of his NRL career.


If the NRL won't register his deal with Souths, what makes anyone think they'll register one with us?
You should read the article.
Milford is a free agent I don’t think he’s too keen to sign with Souths when his court case is settled after the way they have been treating him.

Knight Tales

Oh hell no! IF he demands a big wage.
Of course if he comes at the right price that becomes a oh hell yes!
Milford still has that game turning ability but he needs it unlocked. Having he and KP on the ball when opponents are tiring is fine by me.
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Spot On

Needs his game turning ability unlocked??? Where has this vault full of game turning ability been kept the past 6 yrs???


First Grade
He looked pretty good in his last couple of games at the Broncos.

I don't think the club will be interested, but he's got more talent and complements Clifford better than Clune or Crossland

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