The Dragons maintain they’ve received no official approach from the Storm for representative forward Tariq Sims to switch clubs immediately, as the NSW back-rower prepares to fight for his State of Origin spot.
Heading into the Anzac Day blockbuster against the Roosters at the SCG, Sims’ future is back in the headlines with the 32-year-old poised to join Melbourne on a one-year deal for 2023.
It’s a huge coup for Craig Bellamy’s Storm, who pounced when the Dragons told Sims late last year they were unlikely to offer him a deal at the end of his current contract.
But would the Dragons let him go midway through this season?
“There’s been no approach from Melbourne about releasing Tariq early,” St George Illawarra chief executive Ryan Webb said.
It makes little sense for the Dragons to allow Sims to leave immediately for a number of reasons.
Dragons forward Tariq Sims.Credit:Getty
Firstly, St George Illawarra want to return to the finals for the first time since 2018 and see Sims as an integral part of that plan.
They could have a back-row rotation of Sims, Jaydn Su’A, Jack de Belin and Jack Bird later this year and after a difficult draw in the opening five weeks of the season, are expecting to climb the ladder in the coming months.
Secondly, the club has almost paid half of Sims’ salary in the 2021-22 contracting period, but has only got six games out of him so far.
An immediate exit would potentially free up salary-cap space to help them with next year’s roster management, but it would also allow Melbourne to get the majority of the benefit of Sims’ current deal with more than a half a season and finals remaining.
The Storm have been the benchmark for driving a hard bargain in the past.
When players such as Josh Addo-Carr and Brandon Smith have requested an early release or have signed elsewhere in the future, they’ve maintained they would only release them if they received a comparable player in return.
The Dragons’ first priority will be trying to win their first Anzac Day clash since 2018 against the Roosters, who will start red-hot favourites on Monday.
“It was a win [against the Knights] that was desperately needed,” Su’A said.
“I’ve watched the Anzac Day game a few times and I can’t wait to go out there and represent all the Anzacs past and present. It’s very exciting. It’s a game with a lot of meaning. I’ll be playing with my heart on my sleeve and I’ll be doing all I can win.
“I do feel comfortable [at the Dragons] now. We have a good group down there and it’s made the transition smooth. It’s not the way we wanted to start [the season], but we have too much quality in our team to not be winning games. Last week was one of those wins where you learn how to win.”
Meanwhile, the NSW Rugby League has officially launched court action against the Australian Rugby League Commission over the feud which emanated from the state’s boardroom elections.
The ARLC has withheld funding from the state body over the saga, which started when Sharks chief executive Dino Mezzatesta was ruled ineligible to run for a seat on the NSWRL board.
The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
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