NRL icon and Canterbury Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould has hit out at veteran league journalist, Phil 'Buzz' Rothfield, over what he claims are "false" reports about the club. Rothfield claims talented young playmaker Khaled Rajab has been left disillusioned by the club after being left out of new coach Cameron Ciraldo's 30-man roster for the upcoming season.
The the 21-year-old Rajab got a taste of what to expect at NRL level when he represented Lebanon at last year's Rugby League World Cup. The young playmaker would have been hoping to break into the Bulldogs' top squad in 2023, but Rothfield says the return of veteran playmaker Josh Reynolds and the signing of former Broncos young gun Karl Oloapu, has squeezed Rajab out of the 30-man roster.
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Club favourite Reynolds returned on a train-and-trial deal in November but last week completed a fairytale return to the Bulldogs after impressing Ciraldo enough in pre-season training to be granted a one-year deal as part of the Bulldogs' 30-man squad. Oloapu meanwhile, vowed never to play for the Broncos again after a bitter falling out with the club over claims the club broke promises to the former Australian Schoolboys captain.
One of those alleged promises centred around Oloapu featuring in Brisbane's 30-man squad and playing in his preferred position of five-eighth. With the Bulldogs snapping up the former Broncos young gun on a four-year deal, Rothfield says Rajab has been left disgruntled after missing out on a top-30 spot at Canterbury.
“There’s a young fellow, he’s 21 years of age and he played for Lebanon at the World Cup, he is a halfback, is he a five-eighth or he can play fullback,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast “He is a really talented kid, his name is Khaled Rajab, played a lot of NSW Cup last year but has had a very good off-season.
“A couple of clubs have been eyeing him off, he didn’t make the Bulldogs 30 man NRL squad, there’s a couple of handy players who kept him out. “Gus (Gould) went and signed the boy (Oloapu) from the Broncos and paid a $500,000 transfer fee for him last week, and Josh Reynolds was on a train-and-trial contract.
“He (Reynolds) might be 33-years of age but they think he’s got a bit to offer the Bulldogs this year as one of their leaders, so there wasn’t a position in the roster for this young fellow.”
Phil Gould hits back over 'rubbish' reports
The veteran NRL reporter named the Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters as two rival clubs interested in picking up Rajab. However, Gould clapped back at Rothfield's report, describing it as "rubbish" and "another false accusation".
“There is absolutely no truth to this story. Another false accusation from those with an agenda to destabilise our club,” Gould tweeted. “Young Khaled is embarrassed and upset. He loves the Bulldogs and has never complained, or spoken about wanting to play elsewhere. Ignore this rubbish.”
There is absolutely no truth to this story. Another false accusation from those with an agenda to destabilise our club. Young Khaled is embarrassed and upset. He loves the @NRL_Bulldogs and has never complained, or spoken about wanting to play elsewhere. Ignore this rubbish. https://t.co/QyOq4ncKFX
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) February 6, 2023
Just days before Barrett stepped down from the role - amid widespread reports he was going to be sacked - Gould said the former Manly mentor would be the "long-term" coach of the team - and will remain long after Gould departs as the general manager of football at Canterbury.
Not to be outdone after Gould slammed his latest reports, Rothfield fired back at the Bulldogs GM of football by referencing the messy 2022 coaching saga in which Gould was accused of telling "lies" by NRL 360 host Braith Anasta. The veteran journalist replied to Gould's post by quoting: "Trent Barrett will be at Canterbury longer than me," in what was clearly a pointed dig at the league icon.
‘Trent Barrett will be at Canterbury longer than me’ https://t.co/tqtPpFKUhk
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) February 6, 2023
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