Mark Applegarth opens up on star player’s rumoured NRL move

Lewis Murphy broke out at Wakefield Trinity in 2022 with the 20-year-old tallying 19 tries in 21 games and that’s prompted plenty of attention from other clubs.

Just last week it was reported in Australia that the Sydney Roosters were looking to recruit the English winger for the 2024 season onwards, in the same vein that Newcastle Knights had acquired Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul.

The news of the Roosters reported interest was fresh off the back of former Man of Steel, Jackson Hastings, expressing his concerns that Super League could lose plenty of young talent to the lucrative NRL contracts.

Serious About Rugby League spoke with Mark Applegarth, current Trinity head coach and former head of development, about Murphy and if there was any substance to the rumours.

“We’re always talking as a player and coach do but what I can say is that Lewis is under contract for the upcoming year. There’s no contract signed for the year after that currently so it is all speculation as we speak, if there’s an announcement to make then we’ll make it.

“Lewis is 100% committed to Wakefield Trinity this coming year, I for one am looking forward to seeing him back on the field. I thought he had an excellent year last year and it was really pleasing to see him have that breakout year.”

With Tom Johnstone leaving Belle Vue and taking his talents to Perpignan it will be an even more important year for Murphy, and Applegarth spoke on the strength of the academy to provide in-house replacements.

“Everyone was asking who is going to replace Tom but luckily last year Lewis had that year and it kinds of softens the blow. They are their own players, have their own strengths and they prefer different wings but definitely Lewis scoring the sort of tries that Tom scored softened the blow for the fans.

“The West Riding of Yorkshire over the last 50 years will have created a large number of significant players. When I got the youth job we just tried going about our business quietly, it’s a hot bed for talent but the hardest part is keeping all that talent, especially at a young age when the bright lights of other clubs come in.”

One such player that was attracted by those “bright lights” was Corey Hall, who is now firmly back at Belle Vue and looks to be a key building block for the future.

“We got Corey at 14, he left for Wigan at 16 then signed at Leeds and then came back. We’re in a pretty good spot in terms of our youth development at the moment, there’s Lewis, Sam Eseh and under them there’s the likes of young Harvey Smith who got  a run out in that Hull FC game as a 16-year-old.

“There’s some good players and our job is to keep nurturing them and keep hold of them till they’re ready for first team rugby.”

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