Day of disaster for Dragons as NRL looks set to rip up star’s contract over guilty verdict
Shane Flanagan’s rebuilding job at the Dragons has suffered a major setback, with the NRL likely to deregister the contract of star five eighth Talatau Amone following his conviction for attacking a tradie with a hammer.
The Dragons player was served with a notice by the NRL on Tuesday afternoon, beginning the process by which his contract can be ripped up by the league. He has five business days to respond.
The player was already stood down from club duties in anticipation of a sanction, and it is now seen as highly likely that he will be deregistered.
Should that occur, he could later apply to be registered again but would need a club to take a risk on him to do so.
“The National Rugby League has today issued a Notice to St George Illawarra Dragons player Talatau Junior Amone under the NRL Playing Contract and Remuneration Rules,” read a statement from the league.
“On 11 December, 2023 the player was sentenced in Wollongong Local Court to two years imprisonment by way of an intensive corrections order and 300 hours of community service.
“This sentence followed Amone’s conviction on charges of Intimidation and Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm in Company relating to an incident at Warrawong on 15 November 2022.
“Additionally, the player was fined $1,000 by the Court for a charge of Destroy or Damage Property and ordered to pay compensation to the victim.
“The NRL’s wellbeing and counselling services have been made available to the player.”
The NRL’s announcement was the third move of a dreadful day for the Dragons.
They were hit by twin contract announcements that scuppered two major options to improve their squad, with five eight target Tom Dearden – who could have replaced Amone – opting to extend with the Cowboys and Addin Fonua-Blake choosing their biggest rivals, the Cronulla Sharks, over St George Illawarra.
Now Flanagan must enter his first year as head coach at the Dragons with a halves pairing of captain Ben Hunt and his son, the newly arrived Kyle Flanagan, with only Jack Bird as a makeshift option in reserve.
The club must now again enter the market for an immediate replacement. They have expressed interest in St Helens star Jack Welsby, but would have to pay a transfer fee to sign him before his contract expires in 2025, assuming that he does not extend with the Super League club.