Even as Jamal Idris was being personally wooed by smiling rivals in Newcastle, the Bulldogs last night remained supremely confident of keeping their most marketable star in the fold.
Immediately after his devastating role in the Bulldogs’ first-up win over Wests Tigers on Monday night, Idris approached Greenberg in the victorious dressing rooms to talk about his plans to inspect Knights HQ. The Bulldogs have been in talks with the off-contract superstar and his manager Sam Ayoub for months about an extension but are yet to make an offer.
Newcastle have been lurking in the wings for just as long and yesterday emerged as a genuine chance by luring Idris back to the club where he was graded as a Harold Matthews teen in 2005.
“It was no surprise that Jamal went to Newcastle – we encouraged him to go,” Greenberg said. “We understand this is a big decision for Jamal … but we have also made the point that it’s not a decision to be made on purely commercial terms.”
Both Newcastle and Gold Coast – who also confirmed their interest in the NSW Origin centre last night – are capable of trumping the Bulldogs for cash. Any offer Newcastle make is expected to come with the backing of billionaire would-be-owner Nathan Tinkler, while the Titans are in search of a strike centre to add punch to their three-quarter line.
But Bulldogs officials are confident the charismatic Idris can better realise his off-field appeal in Sydney, where lucrative third-party deals are more abundant. It’s believed they are prepared to offer a three-year extension, with talks to continue later this week.