Gasnier too good to let go: Brown - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier too good to let go: Brown

By Steve Jancetic 22/05/2008 07:00:25 PM Comments (0)

Few people could show up Greg Inglis the way Mark Gasnier did, which is why St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown says the NRL can't afford to bid au revoir to the champion centre.

Up against a Queensland backline some labelled the greatest ever, Gasnier was superb in NSW's victory in Wednesday night's opening Origin match as he toyed with opposite number Inglis.

His virtuoso performance prompted Brown to make a plea for the financial impasse which has prompted Gasnier to explore options outside the NRL to be resolved.

The 26-year-old is reportedly weighing up big offers from French rugby union clubs to switch codes and activate an escape clause midway through his five-year deal with the Dragons.

"Hopefully for not only the Dragons' case but also rugby league - as we saw last night he's an entertaining player - that can be sorted out so he can stay in the game," Brown said.

"He gave everyone a bit of a thrill last night.

"He's such a big athletic guy with a great ability to make people outside him look good.

"That's probably one of his greatest attributes - not only that he's brilliant by himself but he's got the ability to position his winger and that's a bit of a lost art for a lot of centres these days."

NRL chief David Gallop has already said, for the second time in as many years, there's nothing the governing body can do to relax salary cap rules to stop Gasnier quitting the NRL.

The only hope would appear to be resuscitating failed third-party deals which are expected to cost Gasnier over $1 million through the duration of his Dragons contract, or finding new ones.

And if any potential sponsors needed an incentive to jump on board, Gasnier gave it to them on Wednesday night.

A Dallas Johnson cover tackle stopped him from scoring a scintillating solo try just after halftime, but there was little the defence could do to prevent him setting up tries for teammates Brett Stewart and Anthony Laffranchi.

Gasnier pulled out every trick he owns; the swerve, the fend, the one-armed off-load, the blinding speed and of course the trademark 'shimmy-shimmy' to bamboozle Inglis and the two men either side of him in defence, Israel Folau and Johnathan Thurston.

He also put the brakes on Inglis defensively - this a player Test coach Ricky Stuart labelled a "freak" after his amazing skill in setting up Gasnier's first try in the Centenary Test earlier this month.

Former NSW and premiership-winning coach Phil Gould said on Wednesday night that Gasnier was the best centre he'd seen, an acclamation Brown found difficult to argue against.

"There's plenty of good ones out there, he's definitely a dangerous player," Brown said.

"It's a position where there's a fair few good ones that we've seen, but if asked 'would I much rather Gaz playing for the Dragons?' Definitely."

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