Almost

BY DAN

The Canberra Raiders pursuit of Jamal Fogarty is thankfully reaching a close, with the team reaching an agreement the Titans half, per this report by David Polkinghorne at The Canberra Times. All that remains now is for him is to be granted a release from his current contract. This deal isn’t final yet, and any fan of the Green Machine will only be peeking through their fingers right now – for other clubs it would be a formality. But it seems likely that Fogarty will be a Raider.

There’s little reason to expect this to-and-fro won’t result in Jamal coming to Canberra. The Titans would no doubt prefer to keep him, but as we outlined here, there are so many reasons for them to let him go. Fogarty is going to be the man watching from the sidelines as the Gold Coast fit Jayden Campbell, AJ Brimson and Toby Sexton into the same spine.

The Titans could theoretically force Fogarty to see out his deal, but given his management represents half their side (including Sexton and emerging star Greg Marzhew), it seems like a shortsighted plan. The Titans would likely want to keep the relationship strong; and letting Jamal get his much deserved pay day, and playing time, will be the best way to do that.

Further, at some point it’s untenable to hold a player back from a pay day that would double their current rate. That’s not a good way to build morale around a club, and would upset any message within the club about caring about player welfare. It could also hamper the interest of players coming to your club, and given the Titans have been circling Brandon Smith for nigh on 12 months now, it would seem imprudent to get a bad rep with players now (it might also be imprudent to bring a player recently suspended for ahem “not knowing what I was snorting” to the Gold Coast but who am I to judge?)

In fact the only reason I can think of to reject this doesn’t involve Fogarty at all. There’s been murmurings about David Fifita’s happiness at the club, mooting a desire to head north (it’s north right?) back to Brisbane. I don’t think it’s likely, but if you wanted to send a message that changing your mind and walking wasn’t acceptable, you’d want to start right now, and Fogarty is the opportunity you have. It’s not smart politics, and would press the red button before you had an emergency, but it’s the logical pathway I can follow that would lead to the Titans stopping this. It’s more likely to me that the major delay to this deal being finalised is procedural – i.e the people that need to sign things are on their holidays.

You may have noticed these pages looking a bit fancier and a bit cleaner in recent times. The world’s greatest dude, JB from the Green Machine Podcast, has been putting in work making things nicer around here. It’s very appreciated from my end. If you ever see him hug him, because I can’t. Well, not right now.

There is a ongoing matter of whether Josh Hodgson is part of this deal. In their public statements the Raiders have been clear that they think Hodgson is a part of their side in some way in 2022. Of course, the thing that seems to be keeping him in Canberra is the lack of a multi-year deal elsewhere. There’s plenty of noise around him going to Gold Coast – it’s been a hobby horse of commentators looking for an angle – but so far there’s been no concrete evidence of movement. Hodgson’s interest in a long-term deal, and the Titans interest in Smith (available for 2023) would seem to preclude them from making a long-term offer to Hodgson. Regardless, we’ll know more after 1 November, when he can be offered a long term deal. My hope is that the Milk get to keep Hodgson for 2022, but that’s another article.

A deal isn’t done yet, so we’ll have to hold on the bubbly for another few days. But for now, it’s almost certain that Fogarty will be a Raider for 2022 and beyond. If it comes to pass it will be a good outcome for the Green Machine. In the meantime we’ll just have to wait a bit more.

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