Adam Reynolds’ decision to win a lucrative offer from Sharks to sign with the Broncos instead exposes how badly the Sydney club won the negotiations.
On Thursday the Brisbane Broncos confirmed they had acquired Reynolds on a three-year deal believed to be worth $ 200,000 less than what the Sharks were offering.
It was a blow to incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon who, according to Fox League’s James Hooper, believed he was on track to land a veteran halfback.
Watch the 2021 Live & On-Demand Telstra NRL Premiership with no Ad-Breaks During Games. New to Kayo? > Get the 14-day free trial now and start streaming instantly>
Hooper told NRL360 that Reynolds had in fact indicated to Fitzgibbon that he was keen to join the Sharks.
It was only when the conversations passed into the hands of the club administrators that things went awry.
“When Adam Reynolds initially had conversations with Craig Fitzgibbon, he told Fitzgibbon that he wanted to be Cronulla and was eager to be coached by him,” Hooper said.
“I think for whatever reason the people who were putting the deal together in Corronulla gained a little bit of false hope and false confidence.
“The best deal dealers in your business, your Nick Politis, your Matt Tripps, your Wayne Bennetts, you throw your big guns when you want to drop a major signature.
“They sent the football manager – with all due respect Darren Mooney – they failed to make the deal.”
Paul Kent supported this and said: “Fitzgibbon came out of the meeting with Reynolds quite confident he was going to take it.”
“Then he gave it to the club and it fell apart,” Ikin added.
Kent said the Sharks were “wrong on many levels” and had to go to a much greater effort to convince Reynolds to sign. Instead they put a bid well below Reynolds ’market value and left it to Mooney to make the deal.
“The Chief Executive and the Chairman had to show Adam Reynolds how much he meant to them by turning around and saying‘ what will it take for the deal to be done, ’” he said.
In contrast, the Broncos flew head coach Kevin Walters and new CEO Dave Donaghy down to Sydney to meet the 30-year-old.
“To be fair they aren’t big guns either,” Ikin added.
“No, but they are the biggest the club has to offer,” Kent replied.
“And even if you want to bring in Gallen or someone like that. But you have to put in the big guns and just put on the red carpet and show how important it is to your organization.
“The second part was when they made the initial approach, they low balled him on the deal.”
Ikin said she was “badly missed by the Sharks” while Hooper called it “awful.”
Lara Pitt asked if Reynolds’ situation made Fitzgibbon realize that he needed to be at the forefront of recruitment meetings.
“Do you think this will be a lesson for Craig Fitzgibbon though? He currently has a full-time job at Roosters so it is difficult for him to face and have these individual conversations, ”she said.
“I think he realizes now that he wants to be the face of those negotiations.”
However Ikin believes it should be an even bigger lesson for Cronulla powerbrokers.
“Less for Craig Fitzgibbon, more for Dino Mezzatesta and chairman Steve Mace.
“I think (Fitzgibbon) would be worried that this was fixed as it was and what is going on in it.”
Sharks have had a tumultuous start to 2021. It was launched with speculation about John Morris ’future at the club before he was axed unceremoniously and Fitzgibbon has been revealed as head coach for 2022 and beyond.
Part of the reasoning behind why the Sharks didn’t keep Morris on him was the belief that he couldn’t attract great players.
MORE NEWS NRL
TRANSFER WHISPERS: Milford tied with rival Qld, Warrior open to change
STATE ATTACK: Tommy Turbo’s wild record, Storm Hunt first 18 years
‘RUINED MY SATURDAY: Sea Eagles star reveals brutal wake-up call
Fitzgibbon can’t even look like that now. Or as Ikin said, maybe recruitment is a matter of going beyond who is or is not the coach.
“They hired Craig Fitzgibbon to believe he was going to be the silver bullet, and he would solve all the problems. But rugby league clubs are bigger than that, they need more than that, ”he said.
“That’s what Melbourne gets, that’s what the Roosters get, that’s what the Broncos used to get, that’s what Wayne Bennett understands and that’s the future now for Sharks.
The president, chief executive and head coach should be aligned on how excellence is seen in every part of that organization. “
So signing the Reynolds Broncos where does the Sharks leave?
They lose Chad Townsend – one of the few remaining players from the 2016 premiership side – to the Cowboys next season and it’s understood that Shaun Johnson’s re-signing isn’t a big priority right now.
In fact, all of the club’s midfield options come out of the contract at the end of the season. Matt Moylan, Braydon Trindall and Connor Tracey have yet to lock in their future for 2022.
While that may be daunting for some Shark fans, what it does is give the club a little roster of freedom – something Cronulla hasn’t had for a few years now.
Moylan is one of the biggest earners in the club. He has about $ 800,000 a year but has only managed 49 games since joining the Sharks in 2018. Because of what he’s able to do when he’s in shape, the 29-year-old may be an option on a much smaller deal.
Trindall re-signed with the club for this season just before he started, however he had a limited opportunity in the first grade.
Get the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered directly to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Register now !!!
Tracey on the other hand was the bright light in the darkness of the start of the season. The versatility of the 24-year-old was invaluable to the Sharks. It can cover anywhere in the back line and can fill in the hook if needed.
He has been praised for his enthusiasm and work ethic – and will surely be locked into a new deal. But is he the right kind of player to lead the team around the park?
The Sharks were tied to the man who is now likely to be squeezed out of Brisbane, Anthony Milford. But that would be an incredibly odd road to go down because Milford has been out of shape for the better part of two years.
Fitzgibbon as well as Mezzatesta and Mace have some big decisions ahead of them. They were trading on Reynolds and are now unable to cope with any other potential signatures.