Sam Burgess is on a list of recruitment targets for Manly Sea Eagles, according to reports in the Australian media.
The Sea Eagles are keen to add to their forward options for the 2016 season, and Burgess is on their list of possible recruits.
Manly’s CEO Joe Kelly knows Burgess from his time as South Sydney Rabbitohs’ chief operating officer.
Souths would have first option on Burgess, should he decide to return to rugby league, but may not have room on their salary cap.
“If Sam was available and keen to come back to Australia, we would certainly have an interest in him,” Kelly told Australian paper the Sunday Telegraph.
“We would like to open dialogue to tell him of the opportunities at Manly.
“He was the world player of the year and won the Clive Churchill Medal last year.”
Burgess is currently playing rugby union with Bath RUFC, but has appeared at times a forlorn and frustrated figure in the 15-man code, with the structure of the slower. more set-piece based, game denying him the opportunity to show his full talent.
Meanwhile, Manly coach Geoff Toovey has confirmed that Catalans Dragons stand-off Todd Carney is also a target for the Sea Eagles for 2016.
Star scrum-half Daly Cherry-Evans is set to leave Manly at the end of the year and join Gold Coast Titans.
Kiwi stand-off Keiran Foran is also going to be leaving the club, and joining Parramatta Eels.
That frees up a large chunk of salary cap for the Sea Eagles to spend.
“We’re obviously in the market for a replacement half,” Toovey told Fairfax Media.
“There are many candidates out there and Todd is one we will be interested in. We’ll just let things settle a bit. We don’t want to do too much with our focus on Foran.
“We’ll look at what our options are and he’s [Carney] one of them.”
Carney has won an unfair dismissal case against his former club, Cronulla Sharks, following his sacking last season.
The tribunal chairman, Ian Callinan QC, ruled Cronulla failed to allow Carney due process before they sacked the 28-year-old after a photo of Carney ‘bubbling’ went viral in June last year.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg confirmed that any club who wanted to sign Carney would need to make a strong case for his return to Australia.
“If clubs want to register contracts they have to put them up to the NRL and they’d have to provide a fit and proper person test to register a contract with the NRL,” Greenberg said.
“They are matters for our integrity unit and we’ll have to look at those if and when they come to us.”
Carney’s former Sharks teammate Paul Gallen, also a close friend of the Catalans stand-off, believes that strict conditions must be attached to any return by Carney.
“He needs an absolute strict contract where you can do this and do that, and that’s it,” Gallen told Triple M.
“If he wants to come back to the NRL he has to sign a strict contract saying if anything happens to do with alcohol or an alcohol related incident, you are banned for life. I think he should be allowed to come back.”
Carney’s manager David Riolo is taking a more cautious approach, however.
“The finding’s come down that the decision to sack Todd, the process was flawed, that’s been vindicated,” Riolo told AAP.
“What that all means mate? We’ll know in time but we’re in no hurry.
“It’s taken nine months this far to get a result so I don’t think the wheels are turning that quickly. It’s a step in a process.
“I’ve got to meet with Cronulla and talk to them, then obviously we’ve got to talk to the NRL and work out what their thoughts are about his future.
“He’s contracted to Catalans now for two years and, for the moment, that’s where he’s at.”