Roosters to ditch Harrison for Mason - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters to ditch Harrison for Mason

By Todd Balym 11/11/2007 07:39:23 PM Comments (0)

Ashley Harrison will walk into Sydney Roosters training on Monday and thank his teammates before relocating immediately to the Gold Coast on a new three-year NRL deal.

But instead, it should be the Roosters thanking him as the 26-year-old's `business' decision has put the glamour club in a prime position to recruit disgruntled Bulldogs Test forward Willie Mason.

With rumours his head was on the chopping block in the Roosters' quest to sign Mason under the salary cap, Harrison told his manager to act first and find him a new club.

The Titans quickly offered the former Queensland Origin forward a three-year deal that not only gives Harrison a secure future but ensures the Roosters have an extra $250,000 to offer Mason next season.

"There was a bit of talk early in the week so I put my manager out there to look around and just see if anything comes up," said Harrison.

"It was pretty much just paper talk, I was definitely not pushed by the Roosters, I want to make that point.

"I just thought maybe if it's going to happen I may as well have a look just in case.

"The Titans came back with an offer that enabled me to go back home and secure my future for the next three years and to be part of something that is going forwards.

"The Roosters could not guarantee me anything after next year.

"For the Titans to show faith and give me two years on top of the next year was a big thing for me and I am ready to go back and repay them for that."

Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan confirmed the club would grant Harrison a release to join the Gold Coast, but said he wasn't sure how it would affect their bid to sign Mason as talks had stalled in recent days.

Canavan is waiting to hear back from Mason's manager Greg Keenan, as Cronulla, St George Illawarra, Manly and English giants Wigan all prepare to make bids for the NSW and Test prop.

"With Willie, none of us have any idea," said Canavan.

"We have heard nothing back from his manager for two days."

Canavan confirmed the Harrison departure gave the club more freedom to negotiate with Mason, however he was adamant they won't back-end any deal to allow Mason to match his current $450,000 per year deal with the Bulldogs.

"We won't be back-ending any deal," said Canavan.

"We have already stated that to his manager.

"(But) this (Harrison deal) allows us to look at our salary cap position again."

Harrison is happy his decision will help the Roosters lure Mason and has no regrets about leaving just one week after starting pre season training.

So motivated is he for the year ahead, Harrison will move to the Gold Coast on Monday and report to hard-headed Titans trainer Billy Johnstone as soon as possible to get stuck into a heavy training regime.

"I will go down and front the (Roosters) boys tomorrow and let them know what's going on. Thank them for everything and get on with it," said Harrison.

"It's more like a business these days rugby league.

"I leave tomorrow. I don't want to miss too much training."

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