Leeds Rhinos have parted company with former Leigh Leopards centre Nene MacDonald after he failed to return to the club in time for a game against Hull FC.
MacDonald made his debut against the same opposition but as the season drew to a close returned to Australia ahead of a game against Huddersfield Giants for the birth of his child.
But he didn’t return for the rest of the season and Leeds agreed his release replacing him with Paul Momorivski.
Since his release, he has now made the move to Salford Red Devils. It is believed Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft are coming the other way.
The 29-year-old can operate at centre or winger and becomes our first signing of 2024 after being released from his contract at Leeds Rhinos earlier this month – remaining a Red Devil until the end of 2027.
In reaction to joining the club, Macdonald has said: “Firstly, thank you to the coaching staff and everyone behind the scenes that helped me get this deal over the line.
“It is an exciting time for me to start a new chapter in my life, with a great team.
“I am excited to get out there for 2024 and the style of footy Salford play really suits me.
“It’s a great team that can push to play in finals and win some trophies.
“Thanks to a good friend of mine, Krisnan Inu for putting in a good word and letting me know nothing but good things about the club.
“I am excited to get in front of the Salford fans, play some good footy and earn their respect!”
Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “Nene is a very significant addition to our team and I am looking forward to seeing him entertain our fans in 2024.
“I wanted to sign Nene two years ago – as he is very much my kind of athlete – so to eventually land him is fantastic.
“Massive credit goes to Krisnan Inu for bringing this deal from start to finish to our table, materialising from the friendship and respect he has with Nene and his advisors.
“Myself, Kurt and Kris are looking forward to welcoming Nene to our group and helping him show his best in a Salford shirt!”
Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease has added: “Nene is a very exciting signing for our club.
“He is a player who knows exactly what it is like to play on the big occasions and will add some serious quality to the squad in 2024.
“I am sure he will excite the fans on a weekly basis. He is highly-skilled, intelligent and definitely the right fit for this team.
“I would like to welcome Nene to Salford and look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!”
Rohan Smith has had his say on the saga:
“Once he didn’t come back initially it didn’t look positive in that short term have been able to contribute to the back end of the season.
“So that was really the focus of that period of time. I’ve kept myself out of it and left it for Gary and Nene’s management team to work out the resolution.
“I’m glad we’ve got a resolution. We’re moving on and that creates an opportunity for us to strengthen our squad. And we’re in the mix. So we look forward to closing something out there very soon.
“Obviously, I know it seems amicable from the state of the club but for him to go home and then not come back there was some confusion for some time. Has it been disappointing how it’s played out?
“It hasn’t gone to plan you’d say. That’s the nature of life in sport sometimes, things don’t go to plan. We had to get on without it, we did the best we could at the time with the people we had. I’m really excited about what’s coming ahead.
“As I said, hopefully a replacement player to the announcement. It frees up a quarter spot doesn’t it with Nene going.”
In terms of a replacement, he said:
“It’s difficult in the English market. There’s some great English centres in all positions and some great English players but the depth of talent is not there as it is in the NRL. So it’s most likely that position will be replaced with a quota position.
“We’re speaking to a few centres, we’re speaking to a few other positions as well. We’ve got a bit of versatility there with Rhys, he’s done a good job there at centre. I envisage Rhys will be more or less in place by the start of pre-season?
“I think it’s November is when it will start. I think the signings will be in place and the availability with visas and entry in the country probably won’t be at the start of pre-season but the key signings look like they’re well down the path. We’ll see if we can get that sorted pre-sit.”