Columnist JACK CONLON brings you the biggest rumours and gossip from the world of rugby league over the past week.
Two clubs in for Burgess
Two Super League clubs are emerging as favourites to sign off-contract England international George Burgess for next season. The 27-year-old is set to be let go by current club South Sydney and has already admitted he’d be open to a move to Super League. As it stands, Leeds and Wigan are both believed to be very keen on his services.
Burgess was a big Rhinos fan growing up and with Jamie Jones-Buchanan set to retire and the club open to freeing cap space by offloading another forward, Headingley would likely be his first choice. The Warriors, on the other hand, have money to spend with George Williams leaving for Canberra and Gabe Hamlin likely to have his contract terminated after recently failing a drugs test.
Leeds planning double swoop
While the Rhinos are keeping tabs on Burgess, they are also looking to recruit off the field. Former Halifax boss Richard Marshall was with Kevin Sinfield at Leeds’ game with Salford on Friday, with rumours now starting to circulate that Marshall is set to become assistant coach at Headingley. There has been a vacancy as Dave Furner’s no.2 since James Lowes left earlier in the year and Marshall would be a perfect fit.
Meanwhile, League Express are reporting that the Rhinos are also targeting Salford back rower Josh Jones. The 25-year-old is reportedly one of the hottest properties on the market and has also garnered interest from Toronto and Hull KR. Leeds, however, are believed to be the front runners for his signature.
Mellor in demand
Another player highly-sought after is Huddersfield Giants forward Alex Mellor. He is also off-contract at the end of 2019 and has plenty of suitors after an impressive start to the season. With six tries in 13 games, Mellor has built a reputation as one of the best line runners in the league, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
A number of Super League clubs, including St Helens and Hull FC, are believed to have made enquiries about him, while there has also been interest from Australia. Huddersfield are keen to extend his current contract, but could be set for a battle for his services.
Austin for GB
Blake Austin is set to be one of at least three Australian heritage players to play for Great Britain in the autumn. RFL Rugby Director Kevin Sinfield has confirmed that all players eligible for the Lions will be considered, regardless of their birth country.
This means that Austin, alongside the likes of Jackson Hastings and Lachlan Coote, will all likely play a part in the Lions’ tour of the Southern Hemisphere. Sinfield also insisted the RFL will not go looking for players but will consider anyone that puts themselves forward, with all three aforementioned players having previously spoken about pledging their allegiance to British countries.
One in, one out at Cas
Castleford are set to allow centre Greg Minikin to leave the club, but are already chasing his replacement. The former York City Knights product is out of contract at of the season with the Tigers already shopping him around to different clubs.
Daryl Powell is, however, believed to be keen on Salford outside back Derrell Olpherts, according to League Express. The 27-year-old is currently fourth in Super League’s metre-making charts and has been one of the Red Devils’ most impressive players so far in 2019. As well as Minikin, Castleford also have Kieran Gill and Tuoyo Egodo out-of-contract, so a move for Olpherts would bolster their depth out wide.