Wests Tigers and Parramatta are the favourites to sign Robert Jennings if South Sydney’s rising star is forced out of Redfern.
A member of Laurie Daley’s Emerging Blues squad, Jennings does not have a club for next season and rivals are circling.
Jennings, 22, has agreed to a one-year extension at Souths for 2019 but the contract cannot be registered with the NRL until the Rabbitohs free up room in their jammed salary cap.
It is understood Souths would need to shed between $250,000 to $300,000 to allow Jennings’ contract to be approved.Robert Jennings at the Emerging Blues camp. Picture: Phil Hillyard
There is speculation Jennings’ management were hoping to get their client $350,0000 a season, a figure said to be making new coach Wayne Bennett uncomfortable.
Souths would have plenty of cover in the outside backs should Jennings leave through Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Campbell Graham, Braidon Burns, Adam Doueihi and new recruit Corey Allan.
Johnston remains restless at the club and still may seek to leave if Inglis reverts to fullback and he is forced on to the wing for next season. That would free up some cap space but Johnston hasn’t yet sought a release, meaning Jennings may be pushed out.
Jennings scored 19 tries in 21 games last season and averaged 132 metres a match.
The Daily Telegraph has been told St George Illawarra were interested in securing Jennings until the club signed Corey Norman.Robert Jennings could be united with his brothers at Parramatta. Picture: AAP
Parramatta has around $800,000 to spend should they successfully offload Norman and could unite Jennings with his brothers Michael and George.
It is also known new Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has a healthy opinion of Jennings.
Jennings could also prove handy at Manly should salary cap space emerge at the club.
Sea Eagles centre Dylan Walker’s future is in doubt as he faces common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm charges.
Walker will return to court on Tuesday and his lawyer has indicated he will plead not guilty to the charges.
Even though his future at Souths cannot be guaranteed, Jennings continues to train with the Rabbitohs, who still have two positions available in their top 30 squad for next season.Alex Johnston potential departure from the club would free up some cap space. Picture: Getty
Just last week, Jennings told The Daily Telegraph that the situation was “tough”.
“Right now, I’m not signed for next season, no. I was looking to stay at South Sydney but they’ve got some cap issues so I’m just waiting to see if something can get sorted out,” Jennings said.
“Things have been pretty stressful but I’m just trying to keep my head up and focus on getting my body right for next year, wherever I’m playing.”
Jennings has expressed a strong desire to stay at Souths and be coached by Bennett.