Dogs' $2m to tie down Reynolds
AFTER missing out on Test five-eighth Johnathan Thurston, the Bulldogs have moved quickly to retain the services of Josh Reynolds and are tipped to announce his retention on a $1.9 million four-year contract.
Even if they had signed Thurston, Canterbury wanted to keep Reynolds but the North Queensland superstar's decision to play out his career at the Cowboys is believed to have hastened the deal.
As he demonstrated in last Saturday night's win over the Bulldogs, Thurston is arguably the best player in the game and his performance against the Melbourne trio of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater will hold the key to Saturday night's match in Townsville.
According to Sports Data's CVR (contributor value ratings) system, Thurston was the standout player in last weekend's opening round and if he maintains that form the $4 million North Queensland paid to retain him for the next four years will look like a bargain.
Sports Data awarded Thurston a rating of 977.50 for his efforts, which included three try assists, one line break and seven tackle breaks from his nine runs, as well as nine kicks totalling 186 metres, and 14 tackles.
However, three errors, three missed tackles and three penalties resulted in a deduction of 153 rating points for an overall CVR of 824.50 for the match or 10.31 per minute.
Knights winger Akuila Uate had a CVR of 854 against Wests Tigers but he had no deductions for errors, missed tackles or penalties, while Souths interchange forward George Burgess was the best impact player with a CVR of 21.96 per minute in his 29 minutes against the Roosters.
Thurston's decision to reject massive offers from the Bulldogs and Penrith has turned the focus on other playmakers off contract this season and Reynolds had already attracted interest from several rival clubs. However, Canterbury coach Des Hasler made it clear that re-signing the Bulldogs junior was a priority and he and Reynolds' manager, Daryl Mather, agreed to meet as soon as the salary cap was finalised for coming seasons.
Canterbury sources have told Fairfax Media an announcement is expected soon after the club matched a $475,000-a-season offer from a rival Sydney club for the tough 23-year-old.
Reynolds starred in Thursday night's 20-16 win over Parramatta, scoring a long-range try and setting up another for Sam Perrett with a perfectly placed cross-field kick.
With Reynolds staying at the Dogs, Cronulla and NSW Origin five-eighth Todd Carney is set to attract attention from rival clubs and he has already been linked with a move to St George Illawarra, whose own playmaker Jamie Soward is also off contract.
The Eels are believed to be close to a deal with Brisbane's Corey Norman, who has been moved to fullback from his preferred position of five-eighth to accommodate Scott Prince's arrival at the club.
Canberra halfback Sam Williams is also in demand, and has been linked to the Bulldogs as well as Penrith and the Dragons.