Nene MacDonald joined Leeds Rhinos from Leigh Leopards ahead of the 2023 season and debuted against Hull FC prior to showing his raw pace against St Helens and Wakefield Trinity in the weeks that followed.
However, his Leeds future was left under a real cloud when the centre returned to Australia ahead of a game against Huddersfield Giants and didn’t return despite big games against the likes of Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers.
In fact, whilst in Australia, he featured for Papua New Guinea against Australia in a major controversy.
Now his release has been confirmed by the club despite the fact he signed an extended deal earlier this year.
Macdonald said on his release, “I really enjoyed my time at the Rhinos and I am grateful for the opportunity and support from all the players and staff.”
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, “Nene was very popular with our players and a favourite with our fans and we will miss him. We wish him well in his next venture and we will now focus on finding a replacement for 2024.”
Nene is set to join Salford Red Devils next year according to reports. This almost makes it a swap deal for the reported signing of Brodie Croft.
This is despite the fact he recently made a statement that he would be staying at Headingley.
“I came back to Australia for the birth of my child,” he told Post-Courier. “I signed a four-year deal, I’m still there and I don’t know what everyone is saying but I still got a four-year deal.
“I’m still contracted and I haven’t done anything wrong…we (Rhinos) can’t make the finals so I’m staying back and getting the chance to play and it’s just exciting to be back. It’s been too long like 2019 COVID and home and being away in England…miss being here and it’s good to be back home.”
The now former Rhino was expected to remain in Australia. If Salford were to sign him, it begs the question: how will the club use him to ameliorate the huge loss of Croft going into the 2024 season.