Late breakers: Dolphins emerge as shock leaders for Eels young gun | The Sporting Base

Late breakers: Dolphins emerge as shock leaders for Eels young gun

July 11, 2024

Late breakers: Dolphins emerge as shock leaders for Eels young gun

The Redcliffe Dolphins have come out of basically nowhere to take the lead in the burning race to sign Parramatta rookie Blaize Talagi, with the Eels themselves now second in the battle.

It’s now a four-way tussle for Talagi’s signature, with the 19-year-old ready to enjoy his pick of the litter—in this case, Parramatta, Redcliffe, Newcastle, and St George Illawarra.

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The biggest hinge for the outside contenders will be Jason Ryles. The Eels have finally appointed a new head coach for 2025 and now Ryles has to rush into meetings with Talagi to convince him Parramatta is the best place for him to keep playing footy. The incoming Parramatta boss is reportedly “desperate” to keep the young gun.

The Sporting Base understands Talagi was waiting to see how the coach pile played out.

Whether he likes what he sees with Ryles or would rather try his hand under another helmsman like Adam O’Brien, Shane Flanagan, or even another rookie boss in Kristian Woolf at the Dolphins is unclear.

Reports coming out of the Eels camp show there’s a clear hierarchy for the kid’s signature: Staying at Parramatta is still at the forefront of his mind, but with Zac Lomax coming in to bolster the backline he may have no space in the team. The Dragons rank next, with Flanagan’s proven powers a big factor there. The Knights run last in the pack.

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Should Talagi take up any of the rival clubs’ offers, he stands to earn as much as $500,000 a season and should be tipped to play a key spine role relatively early in his fledgling career.

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