Sydney Roosters set to make Michael Jennings trial offer after three year doping ban

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
09/11/2023
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Jennings could make a shock return to his former club.

Sydney Roosters are reportedly going to give Michael Jennings a chance to revive his NRL career after his three-year doping ban. 

News Insights

  • Sydney Roosters are set to offer Michael Jennings a trial contract.
  • Jennings has been suspended since May 2021 for failing a drugs test in 2020.
  • The former Roosters man would not be eligible to play until Round 11.
  • Jennings will play a minor role for Roosters, if signed.

Sydney Roosters are reportedly set to offer former Roosters player Michael Jennings a lifeline following his three-year doping ban. The Daily Telegraph claim Roosters will offer the 35-year-old a trial contract for the 2024 NRL season. 
 
 If signed, Jennings will be ineligible until Round 11, unless Roosters can secure a special exemption from the NRL. 

Doping ban derailed career 

Prior to the 2020 NRL season, Michael Jennings had been a solid centre and one of the most decorated players plying their trades in the NRL. That all changed in just hours before a Finals match between Jennings’ Parramatta Eels side against South Sydney Rabbitohs. The then-32-year-old failed a drugs test prior to that match and has not played since.  
 
Jennings tested positive for the banned substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren. He still maintains his innocence to this day, saying he “had no idea how the prohibited substance entered my system.” Despite this being the case, Jennings accepted his three-year ban in October 2021 in order to avoid a potential longer ban.  
 
At 32 years old, many viewed a three-year ban as a death sentence on Jennings’ career, but he did not feel that way. “One day I would love to return to the great game but for now it’s on pause,” Jennings wrote on Instagram in October, 2021 following the announcement of his ban. “I’m focusing on my kids and work until 2023.” 
 
Sydney Roosters, one of Jennings former sides, now appear to be willing to give him the chance to return to the great game.  

Salary capped at $3,000/week

If Jennings does return to the NRL, he will find himself in a much different position than the last time he suited up for an NRL side. One of the biggest differences will be his salary.  
 
Sydney Roosters are reportedly interested in signing Jennings. Specifically, they are set to offer him a train-and-trial. These contracts are much more structured and have additional stipulations attached to them compared to traditional NRL contracts.  
 
Train-and-trial players can only earn $1,200 per week. For Jennings, this is a stark contrast to the $600,000 a year he once earned when he was one the best NRL players several years ago.  
 
Jennings will have the opportunity to increase his salary once he makes an appearance for Roosters. Trial-and-train player salaries jump up to $3,000 a week once a train-and-trial player makes a first grade appearance. However, train-and-trial players are typically not allowed to play for NRL clubs until Round 11. This can be bypassed with league approval. In fact, NRL approval is needed for virtually every step of this process.  

NRL has final say on Jennings contract

Jennings’ doping ban officially ended last month. However, his path back to the NRL is a complicated one. First of all, if Sydney Roosters do offer Jennings a train-and-trial contract, he could not be signed until the NRL and the NRL’s integrity unit give the deal their seal of approval.  
 
After that, Jennines would be ineligible until Round 11, unless the league again gives approval to Roosters and endorses their signing of Jennings.  

Whether Roosters sign Jennings or not and get league approval likely won’t have much of an effect on the NRL season. Roosters are fourth favourites to win the Premiership, according to  PlayUp  and other betting sites. This is without Jennings. If signed, Jennings will likely be an emergency backup for Roosters’ current centres.