North Qld, Knights to battle for Mason - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

North Qld, Knights to battle for Mason

03/02/2010 09:35:25 PM Comments (0)

The boards of NRL clubs North Queensland and Newcastle are set for a head-to-head battle for Willie Mason's signature.

The Cowboys joined Newcastle on Wednesday night in confirming they would make an offer to Mason on Thursday.

The ball appeared in Mason's court with Newcastle tugging at his heartstrings and North Queensland using the appeal of one of the world's best players to try to lure him north.

The two clubs are now locked in a two-horse race and will make pitches to Mason through his Sydney manager Greg Keenan.

Newcastle played the emotional card on Wednesday with a public plea by his mum Sonya for her son to come home.

"It's something I've always wanted all these years," an emotional Sonya Mason told The Newcastle Herald.

Mason's 18-year-old brother Rodney, one of eight children, plays for the Knights in the national under-20 competition, another trump card for Newcastle.

North Queensland countered, saying they could offer Mason the opportunity to play alongside the game's best in halfback Johnathan Thurston if he made the move to the Cowboys.

Knights chief executive Steve Burraston got the jump on the Cowboys on Wednesday, announcing the club's board had cleared the way for an official offer to Mason on the recommendation of its football committee, chaired by former club favourite Paul Harragon.

They canvassed major sponsors and even conducted an internet poll of fans who overwhelming supported signing the wayward Mason after senior players backed bringing him home on Tuesday.

The Cowboys didn't reveal their hand until later on Wednesday evening.

"After extensive due diligence and encouraged by the unanimous support of the players and coaching staff, the board has decided to make an offer to Willie Mason," the Cowboys said in a statement.

"The actual terms and condition of the offer remain confidential."

Cowboys coach Neil Henry, who met with Mason over dinner on Tuesday, said things were looking "positive" for the club.

"Willie and I had a discussion last night (Tuesday) about the possibility of him coming north," he said.

"I know Newcastle have weighed in fairly heavily for him too and he is from that area and he's got family up there so he'll have to make a decision, but it's looking positive for us.

"We haven't made a formal offer at the moment but I'm probably hoping Peter (chief executive Peter Parr) will talk to the board and we might be able to finalise something tomorrow (Thursday)."

Henry ruled out any chance of the Cowboys engaging the Knights in a bidding war.

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