Nelson Asofa-Solomona in St George Illawarra Dragon’s sights after Zac Lomax contract news

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The Dragons could potentially make a play for out of favour Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona with the money free’d up by the pending departure of Zac Lomax.

Both players are on a reported $800,000 a year, but Asofa-Solomona has been out of favour at the Storm this season after coming back to pre-season training overweight.

“Now, what about the Dragons? They free up a war chest here,” Braith Anasta said on NRL 360 after Lomax’s release.

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“They’ve got some dollars. Who are they going to go for?”

Dave Riccio believes front row is the priority position Shane Flanagan and the Dragons want to fill.

“I think there’s a couple of key positions that they’re certainly chasing and one’s a front-rower,” Riccio said.

“And they showed their cards by going hard at Addin Fonua-Blake over the summer. And I think a middle forward, if you look at Shane Flanagan’s greatest success as a coach, it’s been when he’s got a strong pack.

“And look, it’s no secret across the game, everyone needs a strong pack. But Saints are devoid of that.”

Anasta questioned if Asofa-Solomona was a potential target which sparked debate.

“Wasn’t Nelson Asofa-Solomona linked to the Dragons?” Anasta asked.

“He didn’t even crack the top 22 this week again,” Brent Read said.

“What is going on because he can’t get a start in Melbourne,” Anasta said.

“Rumours he was going to the Dragons. Is there any truth to that?”

“I think there was talk about a swap deal, but I don’t think Melbourne have any interest in a swap deal with Lomax because they’re loaded in the backs,” Read said.

“They’ve got a lot of money spent in the backs. If they lose Nelson, they need to reinforce the middle of the field. I think we all know that.”

Anasta asked why Asofa-Solomona was on the nose at the Storm after only recently re-signing on a big money extension.

“What’s happened to him?” Anasta asked of Asofa-Solomona’s fall from grace, which sparked debate.

“I just don’t think they’re happy with the way they returned the pre-season,” Read said.

“I don’t think they were overly happy with him last year.

“Craig was a bit… I don’t think Craig was happy with his fitness last year and his weight last year. I think he hasn’t improved this pre-season.”

“He came back heavy,” Kent said.

“He was told to lose weight in the off-season and he came back heavier.”

Anasta believes it is a sign of how far he has fallen because the Storm could use a player of his calibre right now.

“He must be struggling because they need him,” Anasta said.

“If you look at Melbourne and their pack, they need size, they need power, they need forwards.”

However, Kent commended Bellamy for sticking to his high standards on player fitness and accountability.

“What we do know about Craig Bellamy, Craig Bellamy is not going to sit there and indulge a player,” Kent said.

Is Lomax set to depart for the Eels?

“And second, what he’s not going to do, he’s not going to lower his standards to say, you know what, I do need you.

“I do need you. But this is the standard I’ve set. Craig Bellamy is one of the few coaches in the competition that will not waver on what his standard is. Even if the team needs it. No matter how desperately a team needs it. That’s why they’ve been the best for 20 years.”

“It speaks volumes probably of where he’s at then, Nelson,” Anasta said.

“If they are the standards and he can’t reach them and they’re willing to let go of a player that’s been there for a long period of time, who has had a really big impact in the club.”

“I don’t think it’s quite at that point yet, but it’s getting there,” Read said.

“It’s getting close.”

Riccio warned rival clubs would be wary of taking a punt on a player that the Storm no longer wanted.

“I think the concern would be that… I think it would be a stack of footy clubs really keen to have a big, powerful man like Nelson Asofa-Solomona in your front row,” Riccio said.

“But with that comes a trepidation on, why is the Melbourne Storm letting him go? And then footy clubs start to baulk at that. It’s renowned throughout the game.

“Buying a Storm discard always comes with a little bit of uncertainty from rival clubs.”

“Very few of them repeat the performance,” Kent added.

“Very few players leave Melbourne and are as good where they go, as what they were at Melbourne.”

However, Anasta believes there will be no shortage of interested clubs in Asofa-Solomona’s services.

“He won’t have a problem though, they will be lining up for him,” Anasta concluded.

Originally published as Out of favour $800k Storm forward in Dragons’ sights amid Lomax move

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