Eels star Dylan Brown was top of Canberra coach Ricky Stuart’s halves hit list — before “stumbling” upon Jamal Fogarty.
Following the departure of George Williams, the Raiders went into a rebuilding phase according to NRL360 co-host Paul Kent and Stuart desperately needed a halves partner for Jack Wighton.
“It was only a bit over a year ago George Williams came to the club and said he wanted out,” Kent said on NRL360 on Wednesday night.
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“There was a period there, after Bateman really destabilised the club, Josh Hodgson had his issues, was stood down as captain.
“There was all sorts of issues, whether the English who were so good at Canberra, were suddenly becoming a problem.
“They had to go through a rebuild, they started it probably a little earlier than they anticipated.
Stuart reportedly met with player agent Chris Orr, who represents both Brown and Fogarty, during the bubble last season.
The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield revealed revealed ‘Sticky’ initially wanted to pry Kiwi international Brown away from Parramatta, but Orr was confident the 22-year-old wouldn’t leave the Eels.
Meanwhile, Titans coach Justin Holbrook had informed Fogarty he wouldn’t be the club’s first choice halfback for the 2022 season, granting him a release from the final two-years of his contract.
Orr suggested the experienced halfback to Stuart — and after returning from a meniscus tear, Rothfield believes he is one of the signings of the year.
“Fogarty is up there among the buys of the year with Chad Townsend and all those guys,” Rothfield said.
“It is a lovely story how he (Stuart) stumbled across him, he met Chris Orr, the player agent, for a beer when they were in the hub last year.
“He organised a meeting to try and get Dylan Brown out of Parramatta, Ricky needed a half so he said ‘mate, I have got to get Dylan Brown, can I get him out of Parramatta’.
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“And Orr said no he is happy there, so he said ‘what about Fogarty?’
“It went from there.”
“Fogarty was upset because he was told the young fellow was going to be playing halfback.”
Both the Kent and Brent Read agreed the Raiders’ season turned around once Fogarty returned in Round 12.
In his 14 appearances for Canberra, the 28-year-old has only lost four games to the Eels, Broncos, Dragons and Panthers.
“This year they started the season, lost Hodgson for the season 20 minutes into the first game and they didn’t get Fogarty the halfback until 12 weeks in,” Kent said.
“Most teams without your number one hooker and halfback, it is curtains.”
“It has turned around their season, since he came back they have been a different team,” Read added.
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