Rumour Mill #25

Columnist JACK CONLON brings you the biggest rumours and gossip from the world of rugby league over the past week.

Wigan want Eels flyer

Wigan Warriors have been linked with young NRL outside back Bevan French (above). The 23-year-old was once considered one of Australian rugby league’s biggest prospects and despite an impressive start to his career with Parramatta, his form dipped last season resulting in him being dropped from the Eels’ NRL squad.

He has since been unable to break back into Brad Arthur’s side and is considering a move to Super League in the hope of reigniting his career. Wigan are said to be keen on securing his services, with Adrian Lam looking to add depth in the outside backs. French could even arrive before next month’s transfer deadline.

Warrington turn down Burgess

Warrington Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick has denied that the club are interested in signing George Burgess, despite reports last week suggesting otherwise. League Express report that while the England international may land in Super League next season, it is unlikely to be with the Wolves. Burgess is off-contract with South Sydney and isn’t set to be offered a new deal.

While Warrington were one club linked, Catalans now appear to be the front runners for his signature, with coach Steve McNamara promising that the Dragons will make at least one significant signing ahead of next year. Meanwhile, the Wolves are also expected to wrap up deals for Widnes duo Anthony Gelling and Keanan Brand in the very near future. Gelling, 28, and Brand, 20, have been linked with Warrington all season and will join Steve Price’s side for 2020.

Clubs monitor Render

Featherstone Rovers outside back Jack Render is the latest Championship player to attract interest from Super League clubs. The 20-year-old has been a mainstay in the Rovers’ squad this season, despite the club recruiting a number of players in his position from Super League on loan and dual-registration.

The former Castleford Tigers academy captain has caught the eye with a number of impressive displays, scoring three tries in 15 games this season and proving to be one of the club’s most reliable defenders. While his talent is still very raw, Render has huge potential and is being tracked by at least two Super League sides.

Chase in demand already

He’s only been back in the sport a week, but it seems Rangi Chase already has a number of potential suitors for next season. The former Man of Steel made his comeback for Doncaster at the weekend after completing a two-year ban for substance abuse.

His previous Super League pedigree mean his stocks are still high, with a number of Super League and Championship willing to offer the 33-year-old a chance to test himself at a higher level again. Chase isn’t believed to be entertaining offers at present, and is instead focusing on building back up his match fitness and form.

Leeds tie down Smith

Leeds Rhinos have activated a clause to extend the contract of young forward Cameron Smith, according to League Express. The 20-year-old was out of contract at the end of 2019, but the Rhinos had a one-year option in their favour and have chosen to invoke that clause.

Smith has established himself as one of the Rhinos’ key back rowers in the last couple of years, making 39 appearances since debuting in 2016. His retention all but completes the Rhinos’ forward pack for 2020, with only Brett Ferres and James Donaldson still yet to sign new deals at Headingley.

Hull weighing up Cunningham move

Hull FC could be set to bring former player James Cunningham back to the KCOM Stadium, report League Express. The 25-yer-old started his career with the Black and Whites’ academy, making 10 appearances for the senior team before moving to London Broncos in 2015.

He has since established himself as club captain in the capital, but could be tempted to return to East Yorkshire should the Broncos fail to escape relegation. With Jez Litten leaving for cross-city Rivas Hull KR in 2020, Lee Radford is keen to recruit a backup for Danny Houghton, and has earmarked Cunningham as the ideal candidate.

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