Willie Mason set to add his experience to the Manly Sea Eagles’ pack next season
The Daily Telegraph
October 11, 2014 12:00AWillie Mason says he is being chased by “a lot” of clubs.
Willie Mason looks set to add some experience to Manly next season, with Anthony Watmough’s exit.
MANLY are ready to throw Willie Mason an NRL lifeline after meeting with the veteran prop on Friday to try and finalise his move to the northern beaches next season.
An official announcement on Anthony Watmough’s release to Parramatta for 2015 won’t be finalised until Watmough returns from a holiday in Thailand next week.
But as Mason looks to link with his fifth NRL club, the 34-year-old told The Daily Telegraph he would be ready to make his decision public next week.
There were suggestions on Friday that the Storm could come in with a late bid to snatch Mason’s services after Bryan Norrie was forced to announce his retirement due to medical advice on a neck injury.
Melbourne understood Mason to Manly was already a done deal and as of Friday night the Storm were adamant that they were hunting in a different direction.
Geoff Toovey is yet to officially rubber stamp Watmough’s move to the Eels — and one of the coach’s major concerns relates to the amount of experience Manly’s pack will be without following Jason King’s retirement and Glenn Stewart’s move to South Sydney.
Between those three, Manly’s pack will be down 710 NRL games of experience next season — while Mason not only brings another big body but has no ongoing injury complaints despite playing 272 NRL games.
Unwanted by new Newcastle coach Rick Stone, Wayne Bennett is in no doubt the giant prop has at least another good year of football in him and his body is more than up to the challenge given Mason carries no shoulder or knee problems and is in top physical shape.
After debuting for the Bulldogs in 2000, Mason had stints at the Roosters, North Queensland and a short spell in the English Super League with Hull KR before joining the Knights in 2012.
Manly is also looking at young Dragons prop Jack Stockwell who St George Illawarra want to offload, but Stockwell’s name has also been mentioned at Newcastle.
Anthony Watmough’s switch to Parramatta is yet to be finalised.
CHOC AND SNAKE TOO MAD FOR MONDAY
Meanwhile, Watmough’s uncertain future bubbles along with Manly yet to come to an agreement on his settlement terms — and there is some suggestion Toovey could still block the move given he has final say on whether Watmough stays or goes.
While Manly seemed resigned to the fact Watmough will leave, they are confident Steve Matai will stay.
Several clubs including Canberra are interested in Brett Stewart for next year but the 29-year-old star fullback is contracted until the end of 2016.
The Sea Eagles also have Junior Kangaroos fullback Clint Gutherson in their top squad, while teenage sensation Tom Trbojevic will be fast-tracked into first grade at some stage next season probably starting out on the wing.
Trbojevic only turned 18 last week but Matty Johns has already labelled the Mona Vale junior “a future Kangaroo” after watching his Holden Cup performances for this year.