NRL news, The Mole | Canberra Raiders’ Joe Tapine monitored by rival clubs after wife blasts Ricky Stuart

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Rival clubs are closely monitoring the awkward situation between the Canberra Raiders and star forward Joe Tapine.

With the Raiders’ finals hopes in freefall, Tapine’s wife slammed coach Ricky Stuart on social media last weekend for the lack of game time her husband got in the loss to Souths.

“You have an international player warming your bench for 50 minutes … Your interchanges are killing us!!!” Kirsten Tapine vented on Instagram.

Stuart is not one to take criticism – particularly from within his own ranks – lightly and the situation could quickly escalate in coming days.

Several clubs – notably the Roosters, Bulldogs and Panthers – are desperate to boost their forward stocks at this crucial stage of the season and would jump at the chance at signing the talented Tapine should things turn ugly in Canberra.

“He would be very handy – we are watching how Canberra handle this – it’s messy,” one rival coach told me.

SHARKS SUCK-UP TO LEGENDS AMID FURORE

The Sharks’ season is also fading fast in the wake of the awful way they handled the sacking of popular coach John Morris and club officials have been mortified by all the negative reaction from media and fans.

So much so that the club held a lunch for former greats including Gavin Miller, Andrew Ettingshausen and Jonathan Docking last week.

The trio have barely heard from the club in recent years but were wined and dined in a PR exercise designed to ensure that the former stars don’t further embarrass the club should they be contacted for comment on the Sharks’ plight by the media.

WESTS TIGERS FLYER FINALLY GETS DEBUT

It was a great weekend for the Wests Tigers in more ways than one.

On top of the upset win over the Dragons, highly-rated Papua New Guinea Test fullback/winger Edene Gebbie finally made his debut for the joint venture for Wests in the NSW Cup.

The 25-year-old flyer, who is on a train and trial contract, has overcome a knee injury and looked sharp as the Magpies out-lasted the Dragons 30-28.

COVID-19 prevented Gebbie from playing in Australia last year but he was a prolific try-scorer in the Queensland Cup in the two previous seasons.

The young Magpies have now won six games straight, giving head coach Michael Maguire plenty of options.

CUT-PRICE WIDDOP LOOMS FOR BRONCOS

With the Broncos missing out on Daly Cherry-Evans and a host of other playmakers, the chances of former Dragon Gareth Widdop joining them are growing by the day.

Widdop is currently playing with Warrington in Super League but his young family is in Australia and he is desperate to be closer to his kids.

Widdop has dropped his price dramatically to get back into the NRL but was rejected by all 16 clubs over the summer.

But much has happened since then and despite the Broncos’ remarkable win over the Titans last weekend, the club knows it needs an experienced playmaker to lead them around the park.

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