NRL fans are questioning why the Roosters would want to sign a 35-year-old Michael Jennings after the league gave them the all-clear this week to bring him to the club on a 'train and trial' deal. Jennings hasn't played since the 2020 finals series when he tested positive to banned performance-enhancing substances while playing for Parramatta.
The former State of Origin centre was handed a provisional suspension on the morning of the Eels' semi-final match against South Sydney in 2020 after returning a positive test for Ibutamoren and Ligandrol. He was then hit with a three-year ban and parted ways with the Eels earlier this year.
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With Jennings' suspension now over, the Roosters have brought him back to the club where he played from 2013 to 2015. This week the NRL ticked off the move, allowing the Roosters to sign Jennings to a 'train and trial' contract. He will now have the chance to fight for a spot on the Bondi club's roster.
“The NRL continues to liaise with the Roosters regarding the conditional registration of the player to a train and trial contract,” an NRL spokesman said. “The player will be provisionally registered subject to his acceptance of the specific conditions to be imposed on his registration.”
However fans have been left stunned by the bizarre move, considering Jennings is now 35 and was already on the decline in his final year at Parramatta. He played 18 State of Origin games for NSW and seven Test matches for Australia, but hadn't been picked for representative honours since 2016.
The Roosters seemingly have Joey Manu and Billy Smith lined up to play centre in 2024, while Joseph Suaalii could also see some time there. The move to snap up Jennings appears to be about adding depth in case of injuries.
"The Roosters signing Michael Jennings on a train and trial contract makes no sense,"one person wrote on social media. "What purpose is there to signing a guy who was already on a downward trend before being out for 3 years. There's enough talent at the Roosters and in the league to offer that somewhere else."
Jennings started his career at the Panthers, playing 122 games between 2007 and 2012. He then played 71 games for the Roosters before joining Parramatta in 2016 and featuring 105 times for the Eels. He has scored 154 tries in 298 career first-grade games.
Earlier this year, Jennings lost a court bid to reduce a damages pay-out awarded to his ex-wife. Jennings' ex Kirra Wilden successfully sued him after alleging she was sexually assaulted during their relationship.
The Roosters signing Michael Jennings on a train and trial contract makes no sense.
What purpose is there to signing a guy who was already on a downward trend before being out for 3 years.
There's enough talent at the Roosters and in the league to offer that somewhere else
— Joshy (@the_joshy_boy) November 19, 2023
Roosters offering Michael Jennings a Train and Trial contract at 35yrs old & no games in last 3 years, A domestic violence issue hanging over him. Im confused. Where are they going with this?
— Gunbuster (@GunbusterDDG41) November 4, 2023
Roosters continue to lower their standards. First it was Lodge and now Michael Jennings. Obviously what criminal actions you do off the field are not part of their considerations when signing players. Shows desperation by Roosters and hopefully they pay for this on the field. https://t.co/wXcZf9cxvy
— Canada Rugby League News (@CanadaRLnews) November 4, 2023
Why on earth would any club do this? You'd be better off getting someone to return from the UK eg Dean Whare!!!!
— Jo Cornick 🐾 (@Mojo_cornick) November 4, 2023
This is a joke right
— Skinny bob. (@rev_all_spirit) November 4, 2023
Siua Wong signs contract extension with Roosters
The Jennings development comes after the Roosters re-signed rising back-rower Siua Wong until the end of 2026 this week. The 20-year-old, who is regarded as one of the most talented young forwards in the game, joins Smith, Nat Butcher and Connor Watson in inking new deals recently.
"I've loved the Roosters since the day I joined the club. I've found a home here," Wong said. "I'm so lucky to be coached by Trent (Robinson) and to be mentored by the senior players. I still have a lot of improvement in me and I'm looking forward to continuing to work hard to keep developing as a player and person."
The Roosters will also be desperate to lock up Kiwi international Manu, who is being heavily courted by the Dragons. With Suaalii set to depart the NRL for rugby union in 2025 and James Tedesco in the twilight of his career, Manu is seen as the fullback in waiting.
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