NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL Talking Points: Trouble for the Sharks and a ban for Dylan Napa
Last Updated: 28/08/18 5:20pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL as the Roosters suffer a huge blow just a week out from the finals - could Cronulla be in trouble? Plus the sport mourns a stalwart of the game.
The NRL has confirmed Cronulla are under salary cap investigation. The governing body says the Sharks are being investigated over illegal payments to players for the 2015 and 2017 seasons, after the club reported potential third-party breaches to the head office. Reports suggest the amount involved is around £140,000.
"Those inquiries are on-going so we are not in a position to comment further at this stage," a NRL spokesman said.
"However, based on the information available, the Sharks and all other clubs are salary cap compliant for 2018."
Cronulla beat Melbourne in 2016 to win their first premiership, and it is believed the suspicious payments do not relate to that season.
This week is the last round to decide the top eight and it's very close with just four points separating the top eight. The Sydney Roosters have been dealt a blow just one game out from the play-offs.
Dylan Napa has been handed a three-game ban after pleading guilty to a grade-three dangerous contact charge on Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough.
It was a controversial tackle that saw McCullough stretchered from the pitch with a heavy concussion in the first half of the Roosters' defeat to the Broncos.
The ban means the prop will miss the Roosters final game of the regular season as well as their first two finals. If they lose both, Napa's season is over, however if they win, he will return for the Grand Final.
McCullough said Napa had personally contacted his Queensland team-mate to apologise and there was no bad blood.
It doesn't matter how desperate they become, St George Illawarra won't rush Gareth Widdop back from injury. The Dragons captain, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, has missed his team's last two games and is set to remain on the sidelines for another week.
The Dragons suffered a humiliating 38-0 thumping to 12th-placed Canterbury on Sunday to drop to sixth on the ladder. It was the biggest defeat in the joint venture's history against the Bulldogs.
They play Newcastle on Saturday, hoping to secure a home final, but Widdop won't be rushed back.
"I would like to be back for the finals, there's no doubt about that," Widdop said. "There was never really a set date, everyone is different with these sorts of injuries - it's how you respond to rehab.
"At the moment I'm doing everything possible, I've had no setbacks. It's just a week to week and day to day thing how I'm pulling up. Hopefully not too much longer. But I won't be rushing back, it's not the right thing to do if it's not right."
NRL in mourning
Rugby League lost a stalwart of the game last week. Lance Thompson was found dead in his home on Thursday. He was 40-years old.
Thompson played 239 games for St George and St George Illawarra, before moving to Cronulla in 2006, where he played for his final three seasons.
The Dragons wore black armbands last weekend in honor of their former player, while the Sharks retired their number 12 jersey for their win over the Knights.
The death is not being treated as suspicious and there is no evidence of self harm.