Origin hero on brink of shock NRL return

Don’t be surprised if rugby league’s best ‘Mr Fix-it’ – James Maloney – makes a return to the NRL in 2021.

Maloney’s NRL career looked to be over when he jetted out to France with his family to join Catalans on a three-year Super League contract late last year.

But just four games into Maloney’s new deal, COVID-19 shut down Super League and its future remains clouded.

Meanwhile, a host of NRL clubs – headed by the Titans, Broncos, Bulldogs, Warriors and Dragons – have problems in the halves that Maloney could fix.

The 34-year-old has a phenomenal record of turning clubs around in quick time – he is a winner – and I’m hearing while no approach has been made at this stage, his name is being discussed at board level by several clubs.

Maloney knocked back a return to the NRL on a short-term deal after a couple of quiet offers a few months back because of quarantine issues and the fact he has four young children.

But a return to the NRL full time may appeal to the former NSW State of Origin star, with Super League clubs all in financial strife and Catalans likely to be prepared to release him to cut costs.

James Maloney after winning last year’s State of Origin decider with NSW. (Getty)

James Maloney celebrates after scoring a try for Catalans. (Getty)

EELS BLOW-UP NOT RAGING RAIDER’S FIRST

There are few more passionate players in the game than Canberra’s fiery red-head Corey Horsburgh.

Horsburgh showed his red-blooded approach against the Eels last weekend, sledging his rival forwards, then shedding tears as he left the field with a leg injury and giving Parra fans ‘the finger’.

Coming on the same night as Broncos players laughed and joked with their Titans opponents, it was refreshing to see such raw emotion.

But Horsburgh needs to learn to get a better handle on his temper at times.

Teammates have told me more than once he has ‘lost it’ at training – and been sent from the field to cool down.

The kid can play and gives his heart and soul, but in a game where discipline is crucial, hopefully he will fine-tune his approach.

Canberra’s Corey Horsburgh makes an emotional exit from the field against Parramatta. (Getty)

ROOKIE SENSATION’S OLYMPICS NEAR-MISS

South Sydney’s rookie sensation Joseph Suaalii has missed out on the chance to play in next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics – by a mere six days.

The Rabbitohs were prepared to allow the 16-year-old to play in the rugby sevens at the Games, but he will miss out by the slimmest of margins.

Players have to be at least 18 years-old to play Olympic rugby, ruling Suaalii ineligible.

Rugby officials are filthy to have lost the giant youngster to league – but haven’t given up hope of luring him back in the long term.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has seen plenty of Suaalii and is a big fan of the lad – and is certain to keep tabs on the Rabbitohs recruit.

Jackson Hastings in action for Wigan Warriors during February. (Getty)

WARRIORS, BULLDOGS EYE OFF HASTINGS

Jackson Hastings has the next 24 hours to decide whether he will invoke a get-out clause and return to the NRL in 2021.

Wigan want to keep the halfback – who was on fire in Super League before COVID-19 -but will allow him to return home on compassionate grounds next season if he so desires.

Wigan need to know his plans ASAP, however so they can make contingency moves, and have told Hastings they would like an answer before June 30 in the UK.

The New Zealand Warriors are making a huge play for Hastings, but he wants to return to family in Sydney, with the Bulldogs the early favourites to get his signature.

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