Eagles' backrow blow



Eagles' backrow blow

MANLY'S plans to build their backrow depth were dealt a triple setback yesterday, with the hunt for Paul Gallen and Luke O'Donnell going cold as fresh doubts surfaced over Steve Menzies' long-term future.

Gallen is set to re-sign with Cronulla within the next 48 hours, while the Cowboys' O'Donnell appears to be out of Manly's price range.

Both players were in the Sea Eagles' sights ahead of the 2008 season following Ben Kennedy's retirement and Menzies' impending departure.

Menzies has left the door open for a final season in 2008 but a string of pre-season injuries over the summer may have convinced him to call it quits at the end of 2007.

The headgeared backrower is heading into his 15th straight NRL season but the wear and tear on his body is starting to show.

Menzies limped out of Saturday's trial against North Queensland with a knee injury and is believed to be re-assessing his long-term future.

The former international will announce his 2008 plans six to eight weeks into the new season.

Gallen was seen as the perfect replacement for Menzies but it now appears certain the NSW backrower will stay with the Sharks. He is expected to make a decision by the end of the week.

``We haven't given up hope but it's looking more and more likely he will stay at Cronulla,'' Manly CEO Grant Mayer said last night.

Gallen's manager David Riolo confirmed: ``He's been at Cronulla for eight years and it would be a big decision for him to leave.

``We will know by the end of the week.''

O'Donnell's future isn't as assured at the Cowboys. Up to half a dozen clubs are believed to be interested in securing O'Donnell's signature, though there are no firm offers yet to be tabled.

The Sea Eagles are one of those clubs but Mayer admitted they may be at the end of the queue.

``As a Test player I would suggest his asking price would be quite high,'' he said. ``I doubt he'll be in our ballpark.''

O'Donnell's manager Wayne Beavis will meet Cowboys boss Peter Parr next week.

``There's been no formal offer made yet,'' Parr said. ``Wayne and I have held off any discussions until we meet in person next week . . . he'll have a formal proposal then.''

Asked whether he thought an agreement could be reached as early as next week, Parr said: ``I wouldn't have thought it'd be that early. It'll take a little while to sort out still.''

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