SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Tony Williams of the Bulldogs runs the ball during the round 23 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Manly Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The pressure to retain players post winning a premiership has hit Cronulla, with officials visiting the NRL salary cap auditor this week in a bid to retain veteran forward Chris Heighington.

With the Sharks to officially announce former Bulldogs forward Tony Williams on a one-year deal this week, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the premiers still have work ahead of them to keep Heighington.

The veteran forward has indicated he wants to stay at Cronulla and play his 15th consecutive season in the NRL, while coach Shane Flanagan is also keen for him to stay for at least another year.


  1. T-rex is a good signing for the Sharks, obviously he won’t be on $600k like he was at the Dogs. Gallen will make him man up like he does with every other forward. Examples are Kade Snowden who played for NSW and Australia when he was at the Sharks, when he left he never played rep footy again. Meanwhile his replacement Andrew Fifita was fat and lazy when he arrived at the Sharks, Gal took him under his wing and surprise surprise Fifita then went on to play for NSW and Australia. Matt Prior is another average forward who has taken his game to another level since he joined the Sharks.

      • Williams just doesn’t seem to have the fire. He’s big, strong and mobile but he always seems like he’s not fully committed to a game. He’s got no agro, and as a forward you need a bit a least.

    • Yeah sure. James Graham wouldn’t have already made him man up, neither would Des Hasler. /s

      Prior was great at the dragons and then went down hill. He was pretty average at the sharks for a long while and only really started playing out of his skin this last 6 months. Spin it how you want though.

      This is all going to come down to how Williams wants to apply himself. With offers running out he might finally be desperate enough to step up.

      • Michael Ennis, Ben Barba, Luke Lewis, James Maloney, Chris Heighington, Andrew Fifita, Gerard Beale all unwanted by their former clubs……all have played good footy since arriving at the Sharks and I expect T-Rex to be no different, Flanno and Gal will get the best out of him.

        James Graham might have tried to man him up but maybe T-Rex couldn’t understand him…..

    • kraken

      How could a former SOO and Australian rep ever be counted in the 2nd tier cap? If so how can they explain that one?

      • The word former. But most importantly his form over the last 3 years.
        If. Tony wants to play for 80k that’s his decision.
        He is clearly trying to earn and bigger NRL deal for 2018+ rather then go to SL, hence the one year deal.

        • kraken

          T-Rex for $80K!! Talk about deal of the century irrespective of form! What worries me though is a flood of TPA’s to top this up. If this is the case it is just one further sign of how flawed the system is to allow former Australian reps to be signed in the 2nd tier cap only to bump this up with $800K in TPA’s off the books. As long as he ONLY get $80K then I suppose fair enough but I think the whole system of base salary cap and TPA’s needs to be reviewed and changed as a matter of urgency over the off season. Not that that is likely to happen.

          Are you sure this is not an incentive based contract?

        • I don’t think many businesses are lining up to have She-Rex endorse thier products.

          You are only as good as your last game and you are only worth what someone is willing to pay.
          No one else in the NRL offered him a contract and he chose not to go to SL

      • he was shopped around to all clubs at a price and nothing, then was shopped to England with limited interest. hence the greatly reduced sharks contract…. though i had no idea it was second tier. i knew low but thats crazy low.

        • tropicalshark

          I only wish that Souths would have picked him up on their 2nd tier cap for $80K!! There should have been an ad “cut price T-Rex SALE!!” The Sharks sure got lucky with that one.

        • like i said the $80k was a real surprise to me. i think clubs including souths are a little over “the potential” its time for him to put up. this is his last NRL contract unless he can show something really special next year… and i hope he can

  2. Heard a rumour Paul Vaughn has bailed on the dragons and should put pen to paper with the Knights in the next week or two anyone else hear this??

    • doubt it, dragons offered massive overs. Knights would have to be crazy to match the money dragons threw at him

      • sharkytowin

        Wouldn’t Cook need an official release from Souths first from the remaining year of his contract BEFORE he could sign elsewhere? Wouldn’t the NRL need to approve this first? If not, why waste time with contracts in the first place?

    • The Cook to Cronulla campaign has died a little over the last few weeks. I emailed Souths about Cook’s situation a week or two ago and they said don’t believe everything you see and hear in the media and that he was still contracted till the end of 2017. I’m hoping that ”NO” was the answer to any request to a release.

      • Chalky he is desperately asking for a release he wants to be an 80 min player and that’s fair enough the should never got Farah if they wanted to keep cook.

        • sharkytowin

          If I was coaching Souths Cook would be playing close to 80 mins at hooker every game, with Farah at lock and filling in at hooker if Cook is rested during a game, or in case of injury.

      • chalky

        That fact there has been no further announcement about Cook leaving I can only hope is a good sign as (given that Cook is currently contracted to Souths) I hardly think there will be a story announcing “Cook is still playing for Souths”. Unless there is a contract upgrade (which might be worth it to keep him), I doubt we will hear anything in the media unless he is released and then signed by another club. So no new is good news!

        • If Cook was to leave, who would be the back-up for Farrah? I don’t think we have one good enough, so why let him go? He may want to leave at the end of 2017, but a lot of things can happen in twelve months.

  3. Williams is exactly what we need 15min each half as as impact player. Great signing on a small contract on a 1 year deal is going to see him put in for a change!

    • sharkytowin

      “15min each half”

      Even Sam Kasiano had to get in better shape to rack up more mins than that. Don’t you think 30 mins from a former Australian international rep is not exactly value for money?

      • I reckon big Kas can play at least 30 a game. He is much leaner than before and I think he will drop more KGs this off season.

        • Kasiano had a better year this year and appeared to have played a lot more mins. If he can drop more Kgs in the off season and play mins for the Dogs they will be much better for it. He is currently one of the best impact players in the game IMO.

  4. Dogs finally getting rid of some Dead wood. I hope that the Sharks can use him as suggested a 15minute battering ram each half.

  5. Yer gotta be honest not sure about this…. Where to fit him….. I mean Lewis and Graham gallen bukuya capewell sorry dont rate Paulo… Where do you fit Williams…

    • In charge of offloads and throw it high and long 🙂

      If he plays like at dogs it will suck hopefully he plays out of his skin

  6. Williams to Cronulla f..k me only desperate clubs sign players like him and Cronulla arn’t in that situation, i don’t care what he’s on he is not worth it and Cronulla don’t need him and it could cost them Heighington , stupid decision, should have gone to Saints they deserve him.

      • warriors2015

        I think he should (especially following the GF and a premiership) but I have read that he is keen to sign on for one more and Flanagan is happy to have him.

    • penso

      kraken was saying he was signed for just $80K on the Sharks 2ND TIER salary cap!! Seriously, you wouldn’t want to see him come to Souths for that and nothing of our main salary cap? Absolute bargain! Even if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t cost them anything.

      • I’d be extremely surprised if he was signed on a 2nd tier contract, that would mean very limited game time in the top grade . Gotta remember that the salary cap has a limit on how much of the 2nd tier cap can be used in FG, I think its somewhere between 250-500k per season (happy to be corrected).
        Williams ego wouldn’t let himself play ISP for Sharkies with only a small chance of playing in the top grade.
        Another one who has has all the talent in the world, just lacks the passion/dedication/commitment to use it.

  7. I think I read that it’s 3 yrs playing (and coaching u19) and 2 yrs as assistant coach to SL team.
    So playing days he finishes up around 35.

    • washarksfan

      I look forward to seeing the day when Greg Bird is coaching and instructing a team on maintaining discipline on and off the field! LOL

  8. I dont think it would be 2nd tier and if it is hes only allowed to play if they have multiple injuries and suspensions I’ve always liked t-rex i hope he plays well amd as for gal making forwards tough pffftt snowden was only a rookie at newcastle then hit his peak at cronulla and when he come home he just kept getting injured fifita always had potential atbthe tigers he just come of age (on the field) matt prior I’ve always rated him hes just been overlooked for so long hes always played in a star studded pack tagatese has always been tough as has lewis and graham and heighington so gal hasnt really made them tougher he may have mentored them a bit but i dont think he jas made them tougher

    • bluecastle2204

      “if it is (2nd tier) he’s only allowed to play if they have multiple injuries and suspensions”

      That sounds about right but from what I thought I had heard about this in the past. In any case I suspect the Sharks may put that to the test with a few unavailable due to “injury” in the pre-season.

  9. From a good source.
    Tony Williams signed for 210k
    Cook went to the players association to seek a release and is going to sign for 600k over 2 weeks
    Next project for Cronulla is Taumololo for 2018, replacement for Gal

    • Nrl Live

      “Cook went to the players association to seek a release and is going to sign for 600k over 2 years”

      So he has signed with the Sharks or resigned with Souths? I was telling the Souths supporters here Souths should have offered him a contract upgrade and promised him the first 4 – 5 weeks of next season as the starting hooker.

      Recently looked at the recording of the Rabbitohs vs Bulldogs Rnd 26 game. Cook killed it! Richo and Madge must be mental not to have wrapped Cook up in cotton wool and upgraded him to a better deal!

      Btw, WHAT IS THE POINT OF CONTRACTS ANYWAY if players can come and go as they please? Cook should be at Souths at least for 2017.

      “Tony Williams signed for 210k”

      So that would be on the 1st tier salary cap then?

  10. As Cook is still under contract for 2017 Souths are not obligated to grant Cook’s request for a release, as far as I understand it. There still might be time for Souths to fix this. I would be happy for Cook to get $800K over 2 years and first crack at starting hooker. Does anyone have an idea of whether a club can refuse a players request to leave and force them to honour their contract. What a mess!

    • They are within their rights to refuse but who wants a player at the club who doesn’t want to be there? A player with that attitude becomes a cancer on the rest of the playing group – you want all players pulling in the same direction.

      • Miltontoaster

        I know what you are saying but imagine it was Hodgson and the Raiders and there is still a chance to save the situation. Farah alone is not the answer for Souths. Firstly I question his dedication to a team he has a history of antipathy towards. He also has a history of undermining 2 coaches and causing a rift within his team (i.e. the Benji camp vs the Farah camp). It does not look promising from where I stand.

        Souths should look at throwing more money Cook’s way and give him first chance at hooker for 2017. I would be happy if they offer him $400K a year ($1.2 mill over 3 years). If Farah fails then Souths have nothing and good bye top 8 for the foreseeable future.

    • The only way it could happen is if he had TPA’s to top it up. Ones gotta ask how many TPA’s trex would receive?

      This is the way the Broncs sign all their players for unders. The NRL allows it if their salary cap about is topped up with TPA’s to bring their total salary to market value.

      • thebatman

        TPA’s have become a ridiculous and unmanageable loophole to the salary cap system which richer, better connected clubs are taking advantage of to the detriment of their poorer cousins.

        For the sake of transparency the NRL should publish the base salary cap AND the combined TPA’s as a tally for each club. No individuals privacy would be violated but there would be a true reflection of which teams are most benefiting under the current system. In fact, a cynic would say it was a system introduced to advantage clubs that are best placed geographically to have a monopoly of potential sponsorship dollars.
        Such an exercise would be a truer reflection of the “actual salary cap” or TRUE value of each clubs roster. I expect that some clubs will be over by millions! There also needs to be a cap for each club for combined TPA’s which should be managed by the NRL.

        Anyone agree?

  11. sharks have told t rex if he dont bring any profit in performance to the club ny june he may be let go early so expect the beast tony williams to be back …believe that

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