Milford ‘domino effect’ in Gagai’s move; $2.5m silver lining of Finucane exit: Transfer Whispers

Dane Gagai’s departure to the Knights has seen the Rabbitohs go head-to-head with the Titans for the signature of Broncos outcast Anthony Milford.

Meanwhile the Storm are set to use the money from Dale Finucane’s departure to try and convince star hooker Brandon Smith to stay in Melbourne.

Unwanted Broncos playmaker Anthony Milford is set to decide between approaches from the Rabbitohs and the Titans in a bid to resurrect his NRL career.

Milford was shown the door by the Broncos with his $1 million a season deal set to expire at the end of 2021 and he had been linked with a short-term deal with the Eels for the remainder of the season.

However Fox league’s James Hooper revealed that the Rabbitohs will make a play for the 27-year-old with the money freed up by Dane Gagai’s departure to join the Knights on a three-year deal.

“We saw Dane Gagai is moving to the Newcastle Knights and as we know there is always a domino effect when someone makes a decision like that,” Hooper said on The Big League Wrap.

“So the Bunnies will definitely make a play to try and bring Anthony Milford to Redfern for next season.

“He would play in the halves with Cody Walker.

“The Gold Coast are also in there as well at the negotiating table, so he has got a decision to make.

“But it looks as though Anthony Milford will get an opportunity in the NRL definitely next season.”

Milford has a history with former Broncos assistant and Rabbitohs head coach as of next year Jason Demetriou.

The Samoan international has played seven Tests, two Origins for Queensland and has 68 tries and 358 points in 189 NRL games for the Raiders and Broncos since his debut in 2013.

Storm hooker Brandon Smith is set to stay with Melbourne and see out his contract until the end of 2022 at least.

Smith has been linked to the Bulldogs and Titans after requesting a release from the club to pursue a starting role at a rival club given Harry Grant's long-term mortgage on the Storm No.9 jersey.

However The Daily Telegraph reported the Storm are keen to keep Smith in light of Dale Finucane’s decision to join the Sharks on a four-year deal.

The Storm were originally willing to let Smith leave if they could agree on a suitable player swap with an NRL rival.

However given Smith covers the lock position, Finucane’s departure has made him even more vital for the club moving forward.

The 25-year-old cult hero has scored 10 tries in 17 games for the Storm this season and has started the bulk of the games at hooker in light of Grant’s injury troubles that have restricted him to just seven appearances.

The Storm are set to use the money freed up by Finucane’s departure to help secure Smith’s signature for the long-term.

Smith has scored 18 tries in 79 games for the Storm since his debut in 2017 and has also scored two tries in seven Tests for New Zealand.

New Bulldogs director of football Phil Gould is set to offer exiled halfback Kyle Flanagan the chance to prove he can be in the club’s long-term plans next season, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Flanagan was signed on a three-year deal which expires in 2023 by head coach Trent Barrett after he was shown the door by the Roosters last season.

However the 22-year-old has played just 10 games in his first season at Belmore as Barrett has preferred Jake Averillo as his No.7 for the majority of the year.

Flanagan’s lack of game time has fuelled reports the club is trying to offload him to an NRL rival or the Super League and were willing to chip in to see him play at another club.

However Gould reportedly wants to see how Flanagan fares playing behind a much improved forward pack next season, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The club have been busy in the transfer market and have acquired former Broncos enforcer and current short-term Panthers forward Tevita Pangai Jr, while former Dragons player Paul Vaughan has also been linked with the club.

The Bulldogs have also signed backline stars Josh Addo-Carr, Brent Naden and Matt Dufty, which makes their 2022 prospects much brighter.

Flanagan has scored six tries and 266 points in 39 NRL games since his debut for the Sharks in 2018 and was solid behind a strong Roosters forward pack in 20 games in 2020.

The knock on Flanagan is that he doesn’t challenge the line enough with his running game, which is believed to be why Trent Robinson cut short his stay at the Roosters.

However playmakers rarely find their feet in the NRL until their mid-20s so time is on Flanagan’s side and Gould may just back himself to help the halfback blossom in a stronger team next season.