There have been speculation that Leeds Rhinos centre Harry Newman could leave the club at the end of the 2024 season.
Newman is out of contract at the end of the year which has stirred up interest in the England international from NRL clubs, rugby union clubs and even Super League clubs such as St Helens and Huddersfield Giants who have both been linked.
However, Serious About Rugby League have revealed that the Rhinos are in talks with the centre and seem in pole position to keep him.
This is perhaps because of an ace up their sleeve after the loss of Richie Myler. Many fans have been confused by the fact Leeds have said they would have to let go of another player to complete another signing despite the fact they wanted to keep Myler but Myler has revealed he forced the departure to join York Knights ahead of 2024.
So, Leeds fans have questioned where Myler’s wage has gone in the salary cap. Perhaps it is being used as a negotiating tool to secure the future of Newman in a similar way to the approach St Helens made for Jack Welsby.
So, will Leeds gift their fans a new Newman contract? Leeds did give their fans a late present at Headingley as they won the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge 41-22 against Wakefield Trinity in the annual Boxing Day clash.
Six second-half tries saw Leeds turn around a 22-6 deficit at the break as Derrell Olpherts crossed twice, along with further tries for captain Cam Smith, new face Mickael Goudemand and young talents Jack Smith and Tom Nicholson-Watton.
In the final outing of 2023, Rohan Smith gave the Headingley crowd a preview of what was to come from the Rhinos in 2024 by naming new signings Lachlan Miller, Matt Frawley, Andy Ackers and Mickael Goudemand as starters in the matchday squad. A game known for giving opportunities for younger talent too, Academy players Jack Smith started at centre and Jack Sinfield partnered Frawley in the halves. A youthful bench included Alfie Edgell and Tom Nicholson-Watton, who debuted against Castleford in the final game of 2023, as well as brothers Fergus and Ned McCormack and Ben Littlewood too.
Poor handling proved the undoing of the Rhinos in the early stages of the game as Miller and Frawley’s link-up play resulted in Luis Roberts dropping the ball for Iain Thornley to turnover. Using the field position to their advantage, a strong drive from Renouf Atoni gave Myles Lawford time to stab a low kick for the corner and Romain Franco followed up to score.
The home side looked to retaliate as Morgan Gannon took the short restart well, but as the Rhinos got closer to the try line, a nice-looking pass from Miller for Olpherts saw the winger kick the ball out of play.
Sensing the pressure, Wakefield countered with two more tries off the back of Leeds’ mistakes. The first saw Matty Ashurst cross thanks to a flat pass from Mathieu Cozza, after a short drop out from Miller was collected by Trinity, and then another short kickoff punished the Rhinos as Jowitt pinched the ball away from Sangare to sprint 50 metres and score in the corner. Converting the two tries, Jowitt made the score 16-0 after 15 minutes.
The game became scrappy midway through the half as Wakefield continued to pressure the Leeds defence and attacks from the home side were quickly quelled. The Rhinos finally made a breakthrough though with Roberts in the latter stages of the half. Given a chance close to the line as Griffin tackled Ackers high, the Rhinos produced some nice off-the-cuff play to keep the ball moving across the line and as Miller cut back inside, the fullback stabbed a kick into an empty backfield for the chasing Roberts to touch down. Jack Sinfield converted to close the score to 16-4.
As the clock ran down, a break by substitute Tom Nicholson-Watton set the Rhinos up for another promising attack but as Miller tried to put Olpherts over in the corner, the full back’s pass was intercepted by Lachlan Walmsley. Racing away from the Rhinos defenders, the winger made it to the opposite end of the field and made the score 22-6 to the away side at the break.