Embattled Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney has received another snub after Melbourne forward Ryan Hinchcliffe's decision to reject a pay rise in favour of remaining with the Storm.
Despite Parramatta offering him more than $300,000 a season to sign with the Eels, his junior club, he stunned the Storm yesterday by agreeing to stay.
They were all but resigned to losing Hinchcliffe, knowing what the Eels had offered. But his manager, Wayne Beavis, phoned football manager Frank Ponissi and told him Hinchcliffe had decided to stay put. Ponissi compared the re-signing of Hinchcliffe until the end of 2016 to the retention of halfback Cooper Cronk.
''The re-signing of Ryan is as important as any other player signed by Storm in recent memory,'' Ponissi said. ''To say we are pleased is an understatement. 'Hinchy' had a very difficult decision to make, and the fact he has committed his long-term future to the club is a tremendous show of faith by him.''
At the same time, it is a slap in the face for the Eels, who have missed out on another potentially key signature. Parramatta, in last place, have targeted a number of forwards this year, only finding success with the signing of Manly's Darcy Lussick.
They missed out on Manly's Tony Williams, who signed with Canterbury, and had also been linked with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sika Manu, who are both now off the market.
Hinchcliffe, who has been mentioned as an option for both Australia and NSW this year, played three seasons with the Eels in SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and Premier League.
The Storm also re-signed props Jason Ryles and Siosaia Vave, while exercising options on Mitch Garbutt, Kenny Bromwich, and Sisa Waqa. The club has also signed Newcastle under-20 player Kurt Mann on a three-year deal.
North Queensland have re-signed the competition's leading try-scorer, winger Ashley Graham, for another season.
Meanwhile, Bulldogs-bound Roosters winger Sam Perrett returned to training with his current club yesterday, but is still hopeful of securing an early release. The Roosters have so far refused to grant Perrett a release to join the Bulldogs early, and the winger will play for his incumbent club against Manly on Sunday.
Perrett and his management will continue negotiations with the Roosters next week, knowing a mid-season transfer must be finalised before June 30.
History will repeat for Brisbane veteran Petero Civoniceva when he plays his 300th NRL match tomorrow night against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium. Civoniceva's 200th NRL game milestone also came against South Sydney.
''I've got the 200 game jersey hanging up in the house from 2007,'' the Queensland front-rower said. ''When I walked out the door this morning I stopped and had a good look at it, it's definitely something to be very proud of.''
- Sydney Morning Herald, AAP
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