Brent Naden’s shock switch from the Bulldogs to the Wests Tigers was orchestrated in the space of just 24 hours after the player “picked up on the tea leaves” following coach Trent Barrett’s exit.
In an “extraordinary” player move, Naden on Tuesday afternoon appeared on the Wests Tigers’ team sheet to face the Bulldogs this weekend, before either club had officially made an announcement.
Naden was brought to the club from Penrith by Barrett, who he worked with at the Panthers, and pounced on the opportunity to leave as it had become clear he would struggle to play his preferred position of centre at Belmore.
“I think we were all caught by surprise. There was no media release from either club preceding the Wests Tigers announcing their side at 4 o’clock and, boom, up pops Brent Naden in jumper number 21,” Daily Telegraph reporter Dean Ritchie explained on NRL Tonight.
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“This all happened pretty much today (on Tuesday). Naden approached the Bulldogs last night and this morning. He wasn’t unhappy but there was a desire from him to play in the centres and he felt he couldn’t do that at Canterbury.
“His manager thought, well if he wants to play centre there’s probably one club that would be suited to him and that would be the Tigers given Adam Doueihi is out, James Roberts is out, Oliver Gildart’s form has been modest at best.
“Suddenly, one thing led to another, they had a meeting, the finances were sorted and by 4 o’clock the deal had been secured and Naden was on the Wests Tigers’ team sheet.
“An amazing sequence of events and it’s ironic they are playing the Bulldogs (this weekend).”
Ritchie reported for the Daily Telegraph that the nuts and bolts of the deal were done in just a few hours and Naden’s paperwork was lodged just five minutes before the deadline allowing him to play for the Tigers immediately.
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Naden, 26, was battling a host of promising young Bulldogs stars including Jacob Kiraz, Jake Averillo, Aaron Schoupp and Paul Alamoti for first grade football.
“The Brent Naden situation is extraordinary. How it unfolded in the past 24 hours … that’s how quickly this has been done in the space of Trent Barrett (leaving the club)… Brent Naden has picked up on the tea leaves,” David Riccio said on NRL 360.
“That was the reason he came there, he came there to be coached by Barrett.
“He picked up on it … and Naden also knew that young (Jason) Kiraz coming through the system, young talent, would also be putting pressure on him us well. He saw an opportunity and got out and here he is coming up against the Dogs”
Naden’s exit could be the first of several for the Bulldogs with Riccio telling NRL 360 that Jack Hetherington has also been given permission to leave the club.