Bulldogs rookie Khaled Rajab is reportedly seeking an early exit from the club, after missing out on a spot in their top 30 squad for the upcoming season.
The 21-year-old playmaker represented Lebanon in last year’s World Cup, coming off the bench in three of their games and helping them reach the quarter-finals.
Rajab had plenty of wraps on him coming through the grades at Canterbury, playing in the Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup competitions in recent years before training with the top squad during pre-season.
Following the addition of both Karl Oloapu and Josh Reynolds to the club’s roster, Rajab is now well behind in the pecking order to feature in the NRL this season.
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According to senior reporter Phil Rothfield on Big Sports Breakfast, the local junior is set to ask for an early release from his contract with the Bulldogs, with two rival clubs circling.
“He is a really talented kid…played a lot of NSW Cup last year but has had a very good off-season,” he said.
“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 [Phil Gould] went and signed the boy 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 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.
“I’m told the Sydney Roosters and possibly the Cronulla Sharks are ready to pounce.
“I guess it is a disappointing one, but you can only fit 30 players into a squad.”
Canterbury are expected to go into the season with Matt Burton and Kyle Flanagan as the starting halves pairing, but the latter remains off-contract and is at long odds to remain at Belmore following the arrival of teenage sensation Oloapu.
Rajab could start the season in reserve grade with the Dogs, but with other clubs on the hunt for depth in the five-eighth and halfback positions, it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see him jump ship.
Canterbury Bulldogs 2023 squad
Josh Addo-Carr, Paul Alamoti, Jake Averillo, Bailey Biondi-Odo, Braidon Burns, Matt Burton, Declan Casey, Brandon Clarke, Andrew Davey, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Kyle Flanagan, Samuel Hughes, Viliame Kikau, Max King, Jacob Kiraz, Reed Mahoney, Jayden Okunbor, Karl Oloapu, Tevita Pangai Junior, Chris Patolo, Franklin Pele, Hayze Perham, Jacob Preston, Josh Reynolds, Jeral Skelton, Ryan Sutton, Luke Thompson, Jackson Topine, Corey Waddell