OPINION

A NRL return is a bridge too far for Mullen | NRL

Jarrod Mullen will struggle to reignite his NRL playing career after four years out of the game. Photo: by Tony Feder/Getty Images

Jarrod Mullen will struggle to reignite his NRL playing career after four years out of the game. Photo: by Tony Feder/Getty Images

I love a good redemption story and rugby league has thrown up a stack of them over the years.

But as much as I enjoyed his company and loved coaching the bloke at Country Origin level, I just think Jarrod Mullen's attempts to reignite his NRL career after four years out of the game will be a bridge too far.

I must admit the news of Mullo wanting to have another crack at it when his drug ban is over early next year stunned me when I first heard about it. I'm not sure what his motivation is.

I hope it's not because he thinks he has to prove anything to anyone because he doesn't.

He had an outstanding career, playing in more than 200 NRL games for the Knights, and, at various times, he captained the club. So for mine, he has nothing to prove.

If he wants to make a comeback because his passion for playing is still there after four years out then I guess that's a different story. If that's the case, he will be returning for the right reasons.

From where I sit, I see his biggest problem as being his age and actually getting a club to take him on. He'll be 34 not long after the competition kicks off next season and while there are a handful of veterans in that age bracket still playing, none of them have spent four years on the sideline.

The other difficulty for Mullo is the fact that his ban does not expire until January 16 so he'll be restricted in what pre-season training he can do and by the looks of things at the moment, we could go into next season without anyone playing trial matches.

The bottom line is will there be a club out there willing to risk it and take him on? I expect the answer to that will be no.

But if rugby league has taught me anything over the years, you never say never about anything because it throws up so many curveballs.

If the passion and desire are still there for Jarrod and he's prepared to do the hard yards early and re-establish himself and hone his skills once again in a lesser competition, who knows what that might lead to. One thing is certain, his body should be well-rested.

Whatever happens, you just hope he is happy and healthy in life first and foremost because after what he has been through, that is the most important thing.

Sonny fits the bill

Like everyone else in the game who isn't at the ground, I'll be glued to the television to watch the return of Sonny Bill Williams on Saturday night when the Roosters travel to Canberra for the grand final re-match against the Raiders.

The hype is huge for good reason - Sonny Bill's a big personality and has been a real superstar of our game.

He's obviously got some questions to answer.

How rusty is he going to be? How fit is he and how effective will he be coming back into the fast and furious pace and intensity of the NRL after a long absence?

I won't be expecting miracles but even just his presence in the dressing room and on the field for the Roosters excites me because I think it will lift everyone, including the Raiders' players.

He might only play 20 minutes or so and will no doubt be looked after by his coach but it's going to be intriguing to see how he goes.

ROUND 17 PREDICTIONS

BRONCOS v PANTHERS

If Penrith is to win the minor premiership, it won't be dropping this game. I can't see anything but a 13 plus score margin and if they do all the little things right, it could blow out big time with Nathan Cleary and their dangerous left edge having a field day.

KNIGHTS v SHARKS

The Knights failed dismally against the Warriors last week but back at home, they get the chance to redeem themselves. If they are serious about being a finals contender, they bounce back here but they will need to play well to beat the Sharks.

RABBITOHS V STORM

The loss of Latrell Mitchell is a big one for Souths and they will miss his X-factor at the back. Souths will no doubt still be enterprising in attack and pose plenty of questions to the Melbourne defence but I'm tipping the Storm to win with its pack to lead the way.

BULLDOGS v TITANS

I like the way the Titans are gritting out some wins and they have a real superstar in the making in Alexander Brimson. They are definitely a team on the rise. I can't tip the inconsistent Bulldogs.

EAGLES v TIGERS

It's the last throw at the stumps for Manly and I'm expecting Daly Cherry-Evans to lead them to a win at home against the strife-torn Tigers. Just what impact the news on Benji Marshall's future has on his side is the question.

RAIDERS v ROOSTERS

The heart says the Raiders but the head is leaning towards the Roosters, with Luke Keary back and the presence of Sonny Bill the difference. The Papalii - Waerea-Hargreaves clash up front should be a ripper.

WARRIORS v EELS

Provided the Eels forget about playing an expansive style and get back to its power forwards game, I'm expecting them to rebound here but the Warriors have been so impressive and will put up a huge fight.

COWBOYS v DRAGONS

Tough game to predict in Townsville but I've gone the Dragons provided they take advantage of the opportunities they create which they didn't do against the Titans. The Cowboys at home will be hard to run down though if they are given an early sniff.