Uncle plots poaching raid amid six-club battle

Former Sharks coach John Morris came back to haunt his old club at the weekend – and he could be set to inflict even more misery.

As assistant coach of South Sydney, Morris played a key role in constructing the game plan for the Rabbitohs’ fine win over Cronulla on Saturday night.

Now he shapes as a vital figure in the battle for rising Sharks backrower Teig Wilton.

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At least half a dozen clubs, including premiers Penrith, are believed to be interested in Wilton.

But Morris just happens to be Wilton’s uncle and that relationship will give the Rabbitohs a massive edge in the fight for his services.

Cronulla has already begun talks to extend Wilton but with so much interest from rival clubs, the wide-running forward is likely to hold off making a decision anytime soon and bank on his price rising.

The Rabbitohs see Wilton as an ideal runner on the left edge outside Cody Walker and are set to make a big play for the robust forward.

FORMER KNIGHT ON TOP OF THE WORLD

There was no happier player after round one than former Knight turned Warrior Mitchell Barnett.

Barnett switched camps over the summer in far from happy circumstances and was telling mates all off-season that he wanted nothing more than a win over his former team.

Barnett’s Warriors teammates delivered and the talented forward played a key role in the first round win in Wellington.

A battle-hardened player who knows what it takes to win big games, Barnett looks a great fit for the Warriors and could be one of the buys of the year.

YOUNG TIGER’S YEAR ENDED

The poor old Tigers can’t take a trick.

The club had high hopes for Papua New Guinea winger Jimmy Ngutlik, who scored two tries against Wales in last year’s World Cup, including one of the best solo tries of the tournament.

But Ngutlik, on a development contract at the club, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in pre-season and is out for the year.

It’s a shocking blow for the 22-year-old, but the Tigers are standing by him and hope to have him back on deck for 2024.

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ENGLISH GREAT EYEING NRL GIG

Former England Test forward Lee Radford has been sacked as coach of Castleford after just three games.

The 43-year-old is a hot commodity in the coaching world, however, and is set to look for an assistant’s job in the NRL.

Radford was a key figure in the Samoan squad that shocked the league universe by reaching last year’s World Cup final.

Radford is good friends – and a former teammate at Hull FC – of Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

But the Sharks have two astute assistant coaches in Steve Price and Josh Hannay and another rising coach in Daniel Holdsworth waiting in the wings.

So Radford will spend the next few months sending his resume to other NRL clubs hoping for a start.

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