They also said there will likely be depositions taken from Hayne in Australia. Hayne’s American lawyer was present as well.
If a settlement was discussed, it has certainly not been finalised. I tried to contact Qutami for comment, but he did not reply.
Hayne has started up again on social media. He has been active on Instagram and Twitter, which perhaps indicates a more relaxed state of mind. De Belin has said nothing to anyone about his aggravated sexual assault case, not even his closest mates.
It is interesting to note that while Hayne is without an NRL club for 2019, De Belin was included in all of the Dragons’ team marketing for this season, including the team photo. De Belin took off with his pregnant partner to a family property when the story first broke and has been struggling.
Speaking of troubled NRL stars, when I told the Cowboys I was going to break a story about Ben Barba physically assaulting his partner, they told me I was getting ahead of myself, but did concede they were looking into an incident. It didn’t stop me going ahead and saying there was an incident at the casino and that Barba would be sacked.
Perhaps the Cowboys’ reluctance was because Barba’s long-suffering partner, Ainslie, wasn’t willing to make a complaint.
There is no question that Barba physically assaulted her. He threw objects at her, believed to be rocks.
I was told that when the Cowboys first learnt of an incident – three days before he was sacked – their immediate thought was to bring him in and go down the path of education, but when they learnt how bad it was and that it was caught on CCTV, there was no choice other than to sack him.
Sharks wanted Daley to take charge
Laurie Daley was hunted by Wests Tigers, but word out of the Shire is that the Sharks wanted him as head coach.
Daley is well regarded by a number of Cronulla’s senior players. The push for Daley came late in the hunt for a coach after Shane Flanagan was banned by the NRL, and it is unclear if it ever got to the stage where serious discussions were held. Perhaps the Sharks didn’t think they had the cash to get Daley?
Daley has experience and star power, but in the end it would have been tough to recruit an outsider.
John Morris was also the pick of the playing group. He is extremely well respected and he knows the Sharks’ pathways and systems inside out.
Daley is an excellent radio host, but he hasn’t given up on coaching. He is a gentleman on air and breezy in his attitude, but beneath that is a killer instinct and competitive desire that keep the coaching fires burning.
Key for the NRL: Who distributed Napa vision?
This column has been made aware of the identity of the woman in Dylan Napa’s ‘‘Big Papi’’ videos. It’s believed she is based in the US and works in the fashion world. I have not had any contact with her.
The NRL integrity unit has made inquiries about her identity but has not been able to track her down. Her identity is not crucial to the investigation because she cannot be identified in the videos. The key aspect for the NRL is did any player assist in distributing the footage?
In one of the videos we have seen, Napa appears to be filming it himself. The NRL will say that any player who put the vision on WhatsApp could have a problem. The view is that there was a very real expectation that it would be made public at some stage.
Clubs are saying Napa should escape without a penalty. The good mail early on was that Napa was looking at a stretch on the sidelines. But now a fine may be viewed as more acceptable.
We keep on hearing the integrity unit is still investigating the Napa matter and that NRL boss Todd Greenberg has not even cast his mind to a suitable sanction yet. Greenberg did seem to be leaning towards a suspension when he faced the media midweek.
Some consider a fine the only way to hurt modern-day players. Knights players were stunned when prop Jacob Saifiti was hit with a whopping $50,000 fine, half of it suspended, for his role in a fight in which he was knocked out and broke his leg in December. The fine equates to a massive 25 per cent of his salary. If that applied to Napa – which it may – he would be $150,000 poorer.
JT rumours not true
Johnathan Thurston has enjoyed the well-earned benefits of fame, but there is a significant downside that has threatened to destabilise his harmonious family life.
Thurston spent a large slab of time after last season touring the country promoting his book, but in the background he has been the subject of a nasty whispering campaign that has caused his family significant distress.
Thurston’s name has been seized upon by an angry ex-husband of an employee of the Cowboys. The ex has called news outlets, starting with the Townsville Bulletin, asking for money to sell a story that has no truth to it. He has been trying to say Thurston was involved with the man’s former partner, which is false.
At least one paper had a story ready to run after the man told them his version of events. They even alerted some of Thurston’s major sponsors, including Sony. But the story was pulled when the man failed to produce the evidence.
He claims to have damning text messages. This is false. He has promised media outlets access to the information. Nothing has been forthcoming.
Johnathan and Samantha Thurston are friends with the Cowboys employee. Samantha received a call from the man and she shut him down quickly, saying she didn’t believe him. Club insiders say the man contacted them asking that his former partner be sacked, promising to let the story rest if that happened.
We understand the man is angry at the break-up of his marriage, but to drag the Thurstons into it is wrong and for people on social media to be treating it as fact is disgraceful. I’ve spent time in his and Samantha’s company and it’s hard not to admire them as a couple.
Manly chairman Scott Penn will be spending more time in New York with his new partner, but he says that doesn’t mean he will be giving up the top job at Manly.
The game was awash with rumours Penn was going to leave his post, but he assured me as he was boarding a plane to the Big Apple that he is committed to the Sea Eagles. Penn has informed the NRL of his changed situation and he has explained that his business and personal interests in New York won’t impact on his role.
Penn will need to be strong as the club deals with the fallout from the Dylan Walker court case and the potential impact the Sharks salary-cap investigation has on former Cronulla boss Lyall Gorman.
We have talked to Gorman in recent times and he has said consistently that he did nothing wrong during his time at Cronulla, during which the club won a competition.
What’s up, doc?
Here is an odd one. The obvious hero of the Roosters grand final win was Cooper Cronk. His ability to endure and inspire a victory despite his busted shoulder is arguably the most courageous thing we’ve seen on a football field.
The doctor who guided him through that week was Roosters medico Dr Ameer Ibrahim. We are not sure why he and the Roosters are no longer a team, but he is no longer a part of the set-up.
There is an old face back at Bondi Junction, however. Chief executive Joe Kelly has served his suspension and was seen at Roosters training during the week with chairman Nick Politis.
Joey battles on
Nine bosses will be guided by Andrew Johns when it comes to his workload, but he is scheduled to commentate on the All Stars on Friday to kick off the season.
That’s just a couple of days after he has to undergo tests to determine the exact nature of his medical condition, which has been causing him to have seizures and blackouts.
We’ve served it up to the Bulldogs for their Mad Monday behaviour and poor media relations, so let’s give them a big thumbs-up for allowing the media to speak to Dylan Napa and Adam Elliott. Napa did his best in a difficult situation. He snapped at a couple of reasonable questions and didn’t really apologise to anyone, but he deserves praise for appearing.
Danny Weidler is a sport columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.