Monday Buzz: Phil Rothfield’s best and worst NRL buys of 2022, Chad Townsend takes top spot

The Cowboys turned heads when they signed Chad Townsend on big money, but its been a masterstroke. See PHIL ROTHFIELD’s best and worst buys of the season.

Todd Payten was looking for a strong voice on the football field, something the Cowboys had lacked since Johnathan Thurston and then Michael Morgan retired.

Someone who could organise and steer around the park in what had become a leaderless footy team.

When the Cowboys coach settled on veteran halfback Chad Townsend we all bagged them.

Townsend had gone stale and struggled at the Sharks and didn’t win a game as a late-season signing at the Warriors.

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Chad Townsend has been brilliant for Cowboys (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Chad Townsend has been brilliant for Cowboys (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

What could an apparent washed-up old halfback possibly bring to the Cowboys?

At around $2.2 million over three years he would be the most overpaid player in the competition.

He’d done little since the 2016 grand final and Cronulla’s fairytale premiership.

Even then it was all about James Maloney, Luke Lewis, Paul Gallen, Ben Barba, Michael Ennis, Wade Graham and not the little bloke in the number seven jersey.

This is a fantastic storyline as we discuss the best and worst signings a third of the way into the competition.

Townsend made another huge contribution with four try assists – the most of his 201-game career – in another great Cowboys victory over the Knights on Saturday evening in Townsville.

The team that was supposed to finish in the bottom four is now running third after six straight victories.

Their premiership odds have been slashed from $100 into $21 to win the comp, $5.50 into $1.40 to make the top eight and $13 into $4 to make the top four. In wooden spoon betting they have blown from $3.75 to $101.

Townsend has been clearly the best signing as we head into round 10 next weekend at Magic Round.

It’s a pretty hot field too considering the likes of Adam Reynolds, Nicho Hynes, Xavier Coates, Dale Finucane and the fabulous contributions they are making at their respective new clubs.

Then the feel-good story of the season is Te Maire Martin, who has been outstanding at fullback for the Broncos after coming out of a brain-injury medical retirement.

A couple of unwanted halves have been super impressive as well – Jackson Hastings at the Wests Tigers and Sean O’Sullivan at the Panthers, who filled in so capably for Nathan Cleary in the first three rounds and will again be on deck during Origin while Cleary is away.

At the opposite end of the scale there have been some poor signings.

The Newcastle Knights had hoped St George Illawarra halfback Adam Clune could take over from Mitchell Pearce in the halfback role.

He has struggled with injuries and form, hence the move by Adam O’Brien to try to get Luke Brooks out of the Wests Tigers earlier in the season.

Although it’s hard to blame Clune for the Knights’ current predicament given he’s playing behind a number of underperforming big-name forwards who just aren’t aiming up.

There are others like Brent Naden who joined the Bulldogs from the Panthers.

He had a shocker against the Canberra Raiders on Friday night.

The Wests Tigers signed English centre Oliver Gildart to add some attacking strike power out wide.

He’s found the pace and power of the NRL too much at this stage, especially compared to the UK Super League.

Also Jamayne Isaako has been a huge disappointment at the Gold Coast Titans.

Signed from the Broncos while waiting to join the Dolphins, Isaako can’t even make the 17-man squad at one of the worst sides in the competition.

At the Roosters Connor Watson too has struggled to make any impact.

Originally published as Monday Buzz: Phil Rothfield’s best and worst NRL buys of 2022, Chad Townsend takes top spot

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