Columnist JACK CONLON brings you the biggest rumours and gossip from the world of rugby league over the past week.
Leeds still keen on halfback
It’s been a busy week at Headingley, but the Rhinos won’t be calming down their recruitment drive anytime soon. It was a case of two out, three in at Leeds this week with Matt Parcell and Tui Lolohea making way for Shaun Lunt, Rob Lui and Rhyse Martin. The Rhinos are, however, still eyeing up a new halfback for next season.
It won’t be Jackson Hastings, who has reportedly now finalised his club for next season (see below), however, Canberra Raiders’ Aidan Sezer is the latest name to be thrown into the mix, after reports claimed that he is keen on a move away from the NRL. Castleford Tigers star Luke Gale has also been touted as a potential target for Richard Agar’s side.
Hull to lose duo
Hull FC are set to lose prop Chris Green and hooker Jez Litten for 2020, according to the Hull Daily Mail. Green, 29, made his FC debut in 2011 and has made over 130 appearances, while Litten, 21, has struggled to break into the first team since his debut in 2017.
The latter is reported to have agreed a deal with cross-city rivals Hull KR for next season, while Green has been rumoured with both Wigan and Salford. Litten could also be joined at Rovers by current teammate Dean Hadley, who is set to be forced out of Lee Radford’s side because new back row signings.
Salford bring back Pauli
Salford Red Devils are closing in on signing Wakefield forward Pauli Pauli on a permanent deal for next season, according to League Express. The 24-year-old was on loan at the AJ Bell Stadium earlier this season as part of a trade deal with Junior Sa’u but was recalled by Trinity due to their growing injury crisis.
His contract with Wakefield expires at the end of this season, however, leaving him free to link up with Ian Watson’s side again in 2020. The Red Devils are facing a tough battle in the transfer market with a number of their prize assets off contract, so Pauli’s signing would give Watson’s squad a handy boost ahead of next year.
Souths step up Thompson interest
After his barnstorming performance against Warrington on Friday, and with George Burgess almost certainly leaving the club at the end of the season, South Sydney are not giving up on signing St Helens star Luke Thompson for 2020.
The Rabbitohs expressed their interest in the England international a couple of months ago, however Saints chairman Eamonn McManus issued a strict ‘hands-off’ warning, claiming that current Souths boss Wayne Bennett is abusing his power as England coach to poach Thompson for the NRL side. The 24-year-old still has 18 months left on his contract, with Saints intending to extend that, but could be tempted by a move down under should the right opportunity arise.
Wigan tie up Hastings… and chase Stanley
Wigan have won the race for Salford star Jackson Hastings, report League Express. The 23-year-old has been one of Super League’s most highly-sought after players over the past 12 months, attracting serious interest from Leeds and the NRL. It seems, however, that Hastings will be a Wigan player in 2020, replacing Canberra Raiders-bound George Williams.
League Express are also reporting that the Warriors are holding talks with Toronto centre Chase Stanley. The 30-year-old is off-contract at the end of this season and has been offered a new deal by the Wolfpack. Wigan are set to allow Dan Sarginson to leave at the end of this year, however, and so could offer Stanley a better deal as well as the guaranteed chance of playing in Super League.