The NRL secured its latest English forward yesterday when James Graham was confirmed as a Bulldogs signing but it may come at a cost, with St Helens making big-money offers to fellow internationals Anthony Laffranchi and Trent Waterhouse.
Both players are weighing up offers from the English club, which has been resigned to losing the English captain for some time. The Bulldogs confirmed yesterday that Graham had signed a three-year deal with the club, ending months of speculation, with chief executive Todd Greenberg saying he had the potential to equal the efforts of fellow British imports Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and Adrian Morley.
But the inevitability of Graham’s departure has allowed St Helens, who are coached by the former Penrith hooker and coach Royce Simmons, to begin making other arrangements. Waterhouse and Laffranchi are believed to be at the top of the list, although the latter has received significant interest from elsewhere.
Laffranchi has a European passport, and would as such not be included as part of a Super League club’s overseas quota. He has had interest from St Helens, Leeds and Huddersfield.
St Helens appear his most likely option, although there is a very real chance that the English club could secure both the Gold Coast player and Waterhouse. They have been unable to re-sign former Penrith second-rower Tony Puletua amid significant interest from elsewhere in the competition, although there have also been suggestions the Kiwi might be considering a return to the NRL. Wests Tigers prop Bryce Gibbs has also been mentioned as a target for St Helens.
Laffranchi is also believed to be the subject of interest from Cronulla, who lost Luke Douglas to the Titans.