Signing Quade Cooper would be a major gamble and one that St George Illawarra aren’t prepared to take.
Former Australian halfback Greg Alexander believes Cooper has the ability to make it in the NRL, but he couldn’t command a big pay day by swapping codes.
Cooper is on the outer with the Australian Rugby Union after being offered only an incentive-based international deal, just weeks after openly criticising the Wallabies culture under coach Robbie Deans.
With his future at the Queensland Reds in significant doubt, Cooper spent the weekend in the company of Trent Barrett and Wendell Sailor, as well as playing in a star-studded University of Wollongong charity cricket match on Sunday.
However, Dragons sources remain adamant they have no interest in securing Cooper to boost their halves following the retirement of Ben Hornby.
Alexander said it was unlikely Cooper would command the same value as when he entertained a switch to Parramatta in 2010 before re-signing with the ARU.
‘‘He’d come for a lot less money than a couple of years ago that’s for sure,’’ Alexander said.
‘‘It is a major gamble, especially if he’s planning to play next year, because he would have to be involved in training to adjust to league.
‘‘It would be a big challenge, but there’s also no doubt he can do special things with the ball in his hand.’’
The prospect of the 24-year-old joining the Dragons was raised after he spent the weekend with Sailor – now an ambassador for the NRL club – Barrett and Ben Creagh, who is expected to be announced as club captain in Sydney today.
However, Dragons officials said there had been no contact with Cooper and they had no intention of initiating any in coming days.
Alexander believes Cooper’s attacking ability in the 15-man game showed he had potential to be a dangerous player in the NRL.
‘‘Any bloke with the ability to break up a defence when they’re pretty much standing on top of you is pretty special,’’ he said.
‘‘I think it’s rubbish the argument about defence as well, he’s smart to play at that level and he could handle it, it’s more about a change of attitude I’d think.
‘‘There’s nowhere to hide with 13 on the field.’’
A fortnight ago, Dragons coach Steve Price declared to the Mercury he had everything he needed in the 2013 squad to be a premiership force without making another key signing.
The club is monitoring Queensland State of Origin star Johnathan Thurston’s future once the salary cap framework around the new television rights deal is completed.