Robert Lui and Tim Moltzen are both fighting to stay at the Wests Tigers but for very different reasons.
Tigers insiders have already arrived at the belief that Lui needs to start afresh. And that belief has neatly coincided with Moltzen’s backflip.
The fact Wests are now preparing to go to contractual war against the Dragons is further evidence that Lui will be elsewhere in 2012.
Losing both would decimate the team’s spine.
Without his top half and fullback, Sheens would be heavily reliant on youngsters to fill two vital positions. Meanwhile, Benji Marshall and Farah would become ridiculously blatant targets for opposition defences.
If Lui goes and Moltzen stays, as expected, a fascinating off-season recruitment puzzle will be triggered.
And the central piece is former Sydney Rooster discard Todd Carney. Because the clubs that are showing interest in Carney will also be the same ones with an eye on Lui’s future: Cronulla, Souths, North Queensland, Gold Coast and Newcastle.
It’s no secret the Cronulla Sharks have spoken to Carney, but the latest mail sugests he won’t be wearing the black, white and blue next year.
The Gold Coast Titans are believed to have made an extremely modest offer that’s very unlikely to be accpeted. Souths have repeatedly denied any interest in Carney, but that’s not what his closest allies in Sydney tell us.
Carney has told friends he’s open to becoming a South Sydney Rabbitoh. Yet at the same time he’s also concerned about the Redfern club’s reputation for strict behavioural rules that might lead to more broken promises.
At the very least, Carney is now mature enough to realise this has been his downfall – not drinking per se.
To win out he needs a strong mentor and there’s none better than Wayne Bennett at Newcastle, which could squeeze Carney into their 2012 squad on match payments and then back-load for future seasons.
Eternally hunting for a half to ride alonsgide Johnathan Thurston, the North Queensland Cowboys are now embarrassed for options. Lui is from Townsville and Carney also has a number of close friends in Noth Queensland from his 2009 exile in Atherton.