Rumour Mill #28

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

Three Aussies in contention for Saints’ job

Three current NRL assistant coaches are reportedly leading the race for the vacant head coach position at St Helens. The announcement of Justin Holbrook’s departure at the end of this season has opened up a lucrative role that is sure to be highly sought-after, with Saints’ already having drawn up their shortlist of candidates.

We reported last week that Sydney Roosters assistant Adam O’Brien is currently the favourite, however, South Sydney’s Jason Demetriou (above) and North Queensland’s David Fairleigh are both up there. Richard Marshall is still an outside bet but the Saints’ hierarchy seem to be keen on keeping him as part of the backroom staff.

Warrington want a halfback

Warrington Wolves are set to make a move for a halfback in the wake of Blake Austin’s ankle injury picked up against Catalans at the weekend, report League Express. The maverick stand-off risks missing the rest of the season, with reports already circulating that England international Gareth Widdop could be lured to the Halliwell Jones Stadium early.

The Wolves could, however, struggle to make that signing before Friday’s deadline, meaning Steve Price could look closer to home. Should he fail to find anyone, however, there are still options available. Stefan Ratchford could make the switch into the halves and partner Dec Patton, while centre Toby King played a large part of his youth rugby at stand-off.

Thompson deal off

Reports in Australia suggest that Manly second rower Joel Thompson will not be coming to Super League next season. The 30-year-old is out of contract at the end of this year and wasn’t due to be offered a new deal but has now told the Sea Eagles he is willing to take a pay cut to remain at the club.

This could be a blow for Hull FC, who Thompson has been strongly rumoured with for some time, as they look to bolster their back row. The Black and Whites have already confirmed the departures of Mark Minichello and Dean Hadley at the end of the season, with Joe Westerman set to follow suit. Josh Jones and Tongan international Manu Ma’u will arrive in their place, but Thompson would likely have been the final piece in the puzzle.

Levi considering SL move

New Zealand international Danny Levi is considering a move to Super League for next season. The Newcastle Knights hooker is currently weighing up his options after the Knights signed Cronulla hooker Jayden Brailey, which is likely to shunt Levi out of the starting number nine jersey.

He is likely to have NRL suitors but could still make a move to the UK. He would, however, have to battle for a starting berth, with all current Super League sides content with their starting hookers for 2020. One potential option is Toronto, who are likely to spend big if they are promoted.

Wakefield close to Championship forwards

Wakefield are looking to sign Halifax forward Adam Tangata before Friday’s transfer deadline, according to League Express. Trinity tried to get the transfer over the line last week, along with a deal for Widnes forward Harrison Hansen, however both collapsed at the eleventh hour.

Cook Islands forward Tangata is expected to join Wakefield in 2020 but Chris Chester is keen to bring him in early for the final few games of the relegation scrap. Last week’s deal reportedly fell through because of Trinity halfback Ben Reynolds’ reluctance to move in the other direction, however the club will keep trying to get a deal over the line before the end of this week.

Leeds halfback in loan move

Leeds Rhinos youngster Callum McLelland could join Hull KR on loan in 2020, report League Weekly. The 19-year-old halfback is set to move to East Yorkshire on a temporary 12-month deal in the hope of gaining some vital Super League experience.

Rovers are still unsure on their halfbacks for next season, with Danny McGuire retiring, Chris Atkin set to join Salford and Josh Drinkwater out of contract. They have signed London’s Jordan Abdull and could now look to partner him with young McLelland.

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