David Klemmer’s future at the Knights continues to hang by a thread, but coach Adam O’Brien reportedly is stuck at ‘arm’s length’ over the Newcastle star’s situation.
According to veteran league journalist Brent Read, Klemmer and O’Brien reportedly have ‘no issue’ with each other, with Read revealing on NRL360 that Klemmer apologised to his coach for blowing up at a trainer – an incident that subsequently saw Klemmer issued a show-cause notice by the Knights.
Read also shut down a ‘conspiracy theory’ linking the Klemmer saga to an aborted 11th-hour move to the Eels last week, although fellow NRL expert Phil Rothfield revealed deeper concerns at the Knights over Klemmer’s performances and attitude this season.
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The Daily Telegraph’s Brent Read told NRL 360: “As I understand it, Klem’s apologised – he sent a text to Adam O’Brien on Sunday night acknowledging that he could have handled things better.”
Read added: “I don’t think he’s got an issue with Adam O’Brien. I don’t think the coach is off him at all.”
Rothfield was doubtful that the Knights are genuinely hoping for Klemmer to leave the club, especially given an ‘awkward situation’ between O’Brien and the player.
Rothfield stated: “I’m not convinced they do want him to go. And there’s a really awkward situation there where his manager is also the manager of Adam O’Brien, the coach. So how is the coach going to back him to sack one of his manager’s players? It gets too difficult.”
Read replied: “This is why Adam’s at arms length. This is (the responsibility of new Director of Football) Peter Parr. Adam’s been told: ‘stay out of it’ … My understanding is Adam has no issue with David Klemmer.”
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There have been widespread rumours that Klemmer’s possible axing by the Knights is due to deeper problems, and not a reflection of this isolated incident.
NRL 360’s Paul Kent asked Read about the: “conspiracy theory that it’s linked to the potential move to Paramatta,” earning an emphatic reply.
“That’s rubbish,” Read said. “Dave didn’t want to go to Parramatta. This happened after they’d already decided he wasn’t going to go.”
Parramatta had sought to sign Klemmer for the remainder of the season to boost their finals hopes, but the Knights shut down the move prior to the Aug 1 deadline.
But Rothfield added that there have been lingering concerns in the club over Klemmer’s performance.
“Something I do know factually,” he said, “this is not an isolated issue with David Klemmer. I’m not saying there was anything as dramatic as him abusing the trainer.
Read pointed out that Klemmer had “no other show causes, no blot marks on his record”.
But Rothfield countered: “But there’s still some issues that have happened at that football club behind the scenes. I mentioned some of them on Monday night: his failure to be able to carry out a game plan, (his tendency) to take one or two (too) many hit-ups.
“Some people have called him selfish, that he’s out there to make his metres and not follow what they’ve been training to do all week. They’re not getting quick play-the-balls.”
Pointing to video footage, Kent noted: “he’s been tackled there, but he continues to fight for three or four more seconds, which takes all the momentum out of your attack, which then leaves the rest of his team with no momentum to attack on the next play.”
But Read questioned: “So what are we saying, that they’re using this as a conspiracy to sack him?”
Nevertheless, Read opined that the single incident was not enough to see Klemmer’s contract torn up.
“It’s not a sackable offence … The terminology he used is freely used in that football club. It’s sprayed around,” Read said, adding, “my understanding is there was some language sprayed back at him as well.”
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The situation remains murky in Newcastle. As Kent declared: “The whole thing’s weird. The whole thing’s crazy. It’s a very naive club.”
And with the latest drama engulfing the club, Rothfield added that O’Brien’s future at the club is under an increasingly dark cloud.
“I’ll be fair dinkum. I think we’ll know at 6 o’clock on Sunday night … if they come away with nothing at Campbelltown, in light of the Klemmer drama and a few other things that have happened: I think there’ll be major drama next week.”