Columnist JACK CONLON brings you the biggest rumours and gossip from the world of rugby league over the past week.
Saints target Marshall
St Helens are set to appoint former Halifax boss Richard Marshall (above) as their assistant coach. Current Saints assistant and former player Sean Long is being strongly linked with a move to rugby union to take up a coaching position with Harlequins, opening up a spot as Justin Holbrook’s number two.
Marshall had previously been linked with the vacant head coaching position at Leeds following David Furner’s sacking, however the Rhinos seem happy with Richard Agar. A move to the Totally Wicked Stadium, though, would be a good transition from Championship to Super League for Marshall, and could set him up for top flight head coaching jobs in the future.
Hefty clear-out at Wigan
Wigan could be set to get rid of six players at the end of 2019. The club announced two new signings last week in Mitch Clark and Jake Bibby, as well as five re-signings, including flyer Joe Burgess. The futures of a number of players, however, are still unclear.
Fullback Morgan Escaré has reportedly expressed his desire to leave, Taulima Tautai has been strongly linked with a move to Castleford and Gabe Hamlin is still awaiting a ban for his anti-doping violation. Youngsters Craig Mullen, James Worthington and Caine Barnes also seem to be on their way out. Mullen was charged with drink driving in March and hasn’t been anywhere near the first team this season, while Worthington and Barnes have been farmed out to numerous loan clubs over the last two years. Young half Josh Woods may also struggle for game time in the near future but is still a popular prospect at the DW.
Greenwood on the outer
Hull KR forward James Greenwood has reportedly been told he is free to talk to other clubs for next season. The 28-year-old ruptured his ACL in March and isn’t expected to play again this year, while he doesn’t seem to be part of new coach Tony Smith’s long-term plans.
The second rower or prop shouldn’t be short of suitors, however, after building up a reputation as a hard-working and skilful forward during his time with the Robins. West Yorkshire clubs Castleford and Huddersfield are interested, with the latter looking to replace Leeds-bound Alex Mellor. Salford are also said to be keen with a number of their own stars set to leave, while a move to former club London Broncos could also be on the cards.
Cas in Salford swap
Castleford and Salford are set to agree a swap deal that would see winger Derrell Olpherts move to the Tigers, with halfback Jamie Ellis going in the opposite direction, report League Express. The deal will initially be for a month, with a view to extending it for the remainder of the season.
Olpherts had already agreed to sign with the Tigers in 2020 but could now arrive early, while Salford are keen to bolster their halfback options, with Ellis serving as backup to Rob Lui and Jackson Hastings. League Express are also reporting that Castleford are close to signing Toulouse forward Tyla Hepi. Son of former Tigers star Brad Hepi, the 25-year-old has been one of the Championship’s standout performers for a number of years and could be set for another crack at Super League, after starting his career with Hull KR back in 2011.
Double swoop for Wakefield
Wakefield Trinity are on the verge of securing the double signing of Joe Westerman and Alex Walker, according to League Express. Chris Chester is set to retain the majority of his squad for next season but currently has eight players out-of-contract, including fullback Ryan Hampshire and forwards Tinirau Arona and Danny Kirmond.
With senior players such as those three being rumoured with moves away from Belle Vue, Chester is acting to ensure his squad has enough quality to challenge for the top five in 2020. Westerman is out-of-contract at Hull and has already held talks with Trinity, while Walker’s deal is all but done after plenty of impressive performances for London.