Craig Bellamy wants Willie Mason to return to NRL
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy believes the return of Willie Mason to the NRL would be good for the game.
Bellamy coached Mason for NSW and looked into signing him for the Storm after he was cut by Sydney Roosters in 2010, but was unable to agree terms with the giant prop.
Wests Tigers are keen to sign Mason as they look to bolster their front-row stocks, which have been hit by an injury to Keith Galloway, leaving greenhorn front-rowers Matt Groat and Aston Woods to carry the slack.
But Bellamy, who has made a habit of turning other teams’ cast-offs into consistent performers, said Mason would be a gamble due to his recent lack of game time.
Mason has not played in the NRL since a stint with North Queensland two years ago, before an undistinguished spell with Super League side Hull KR ended after six games last May.
The 32-year-old’s last competitive appearance was for French rugby side Toulon and he’s been training alone in Sydney’s Centennial Park in a bid to keep himself in shape.
“Willie’s been a great player in our game and he’s a great character too,” Bellamy said.
“I coached him during Origin, I really enjoyed his company and admired the way he played. But he hasn’t played league for a little while now.
“I’m sure if the Tigers think he can do something for them, they’ll sign him up.
“We’d all like to see him back in the game and I think he’d be a boost for the game.”
One man who wouldn’t like to see the controversial front-rower in the colours of the joint-venture is outspoken former Western Suburbs captain and coach Tommy Raudonikis.
“I don’t think they need him,” Raudonikis said on Tuesday.
“Why buy trouble? They don’t need that. They don’t need a headache and I don’t rate him anyway.
“I think he is past it and I don’t think he ever had it.”
Raudonikis also said the club didn’t need to bring in new faces and should make do with the squad they currently have.
“They’ll (the Tigers) get their injured players back and they’ve got to get a bit harder and realise they’re going to have to do it tougher while those guys are out.”
Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphries confirmed talks with with Mason were still ongoing with a deal yet to be struck.
“We’ve had a chat to Willie and his manager and we’re having a think about things as are they,” Humphries said.
“I dare say it will run its course over the next couple of days but right now we’ve not made any calls on it.” – AAP
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