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Six English NRL stars that Super League clubs could swoop for with expiring contracts in 2023

The NRL has finally agreed to a salary cap for the 2023 season and it massively eclipses the figure that Super League clubs have to work with, however due to the delay in the cap being agreed it means many clubs have been unwilling to extend contracts due to the previous state of uncertainty, including six former and current England internationals.

The CBA is the agreement that the players go into with the league and is negotiated on behalf of them by representatives, most notably Clint Newton formerly of Hull Kingston Rovers whom he captained, with Newton being head of the players association, the RLPA.

He was charged with negotiating with the NRL bosses for the general pay rates of player, the protection they are afforded and a whole host of other issues regarding player issues.

The cap has now been agreed at $12.1 million, a 25% increase from the 2022 season’s $9.6 million, and with that information teams will set about roster management including the extension of contracts as over 150 players across the league are set to have their contract expire at the end of the upcoming 2023 season.

Some of the very very elite players were extended despite the uncertainty, most notably last week when Kiwi half-back Dylan Brown received an eight-year extension to tie him down with Parramatta until 2031, however even the very good players such as the man who broke English hearts at the World Cup, Stephen Crichton, at Penrith isn’t tied down with the club almost accepting that they could well lose him.

Whilst clubs will now set about negotiating and potentially extending these expiring contracts now, many players could have already had their heads turned during the period of uncertainty and with six England internationals on that list Super League sides will have certainly been on the radar.

Here’s a breakdown of which English stars we could see in Super League from 2024 onwards in order of likelihood to make the switch to England.

Tom Burgess – South Sydney Rabbitohs

Burgess is one of the stars of the game and were it not for his brother being potentially the best ever English export to the NRL he would probably be appreciated a lot more having been superb for England and for South Sydney Rabbitohs for much of his career.

Being named in the World Cup team of the tournament was another accolade that adds to a long list of achievements, both for himself and for his teams, but the 30-year-old could have a switch back to England in the near future.

He remains the last of four Burgess brothers in the Rabbitohs squad with the elder brothers Sam and Luke retiring but twin George under contract with St George Illawarra Dragons, having previously made a switch to Super League with Wigan Warriors which ultimately failed to live up to the expectations.

Seen as he remains the last of the four and given that he already has an NRL title he could well make the return home having briefly played for Bradford Bulls as a youngster and he has already had heavy links to teams such as Leeds Rhinos.

Luke Thompson –  Canterbury Bulldogs

Thompson also starred for England at the World Cup and the 27-year-old will be out of contract with Canterbury Bulldogs at the end of the season.

With former club St Helens being the dominant force in Super League at the moment they could try swoop for the 27-year-old with current forwards such as Alex Walmsley heading into a testimonial year and having suffered from injury of late, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook heading into his age 37 season and Kyle Amor having left the club.

Thompson has been a shining light in a Bulldogs team that has finished 16th and 12th in the past two seasons and if the side don’t see a resurgence under new coach Cameron Ciraldo then Thompson may seek a return to Saints where he earned the Harry Sunderland award for his role in the 2019 Grand Final win.

Thompson also told Serious About Rugby League in October during the World Cup about his enjoyment back on home soil: “It was awesome, especially linking up with some of my old St Helens teammates like Tommy Mak. I miss playing with them, some good lads and they’re all great players.”

Dom Young –  Newcastle Knights

Young is only 21 and made a name for himself at the World Cup having been relatively unknown to plenty of Super League fans due to making the switch to the NRL at just 19.

Tallying eight tries at the World Cup group stages he immediately caught the attention of all English rugby league fans and found himself very unlucky not to make the team of the tournament.

Young came through with Huddersfield but gambled on himself by making the switch down under having struggled to force his way into the Giants side, however he could well fancy a return as his Knights side have just added winger Greg Marzhew to the squad.

If Young does stay he’ll be joined by two more talented young English players in the shape of former Giant Will Pryce and Wigan Warrior’s Kai Pearce-Paul, something that ultimately could sway a decision to extend.

Oliver Gildart – Dolphins (Redcliffe)

The only player in this list who didn’t represent England at the 2021 World Cup but he has made three appearances for England, all coming in 2018.

Gildart is still only 26 having burst onto the scene on a huge scale in 2017 when aged 21 he earned the Super League Young Player of the Year award having tallied 15 tries in his 20 appearances.

The talented centre is only heading into his second season in the NRL but will already be on his third team having not made the smoothest of transitions joining Wests Tigers who ultimately came 16th in 2022, but being loaned out to Sydney Roosters during the season where he also failed to make a major impact.

He’ll now join the NRL’s newest side, the Dolphins, and will try help the side in their maiden campaign however potentially as a result old his form or the club’s new status he’s only on a one-year-contract despite reuniting with the man who gave him his England caps, Wayne Bennett.

Another year without major impact could see the Manchester-born boy return and he’s likely one of those on the list who won’t break the bank for Super League sides.

Herbie Farnworth – Brisbane Broncos

Farnworth is another player on this list who is unfortunate to have not made the World Cup team of the tournament where he seriously impressed, particularly in the semi-final as he scored two tries in England’s defeat to Samoa.

Playing for Brisbane Broncos there’s potential that the centre will switch to full-back for the upcoming season, something he reportedly wants to do and will have the opportunity to compete for as stated by head coach Kevin Walters earlier this month.

At the time Walters said that Farnworth was still in England recovering from the World Cup so could he be plotting an extended stay with a switch to Super League, or simply recovering back home ahead of pre-season.

Whatever Farnworth is doing he’ll be in high demand when it comes to any contract negotiations with The Daily Telegraph in Australia having already reported that four NRL clubs are after him, however he seems intent to play full-back so any Super League sides with an opening could try sway him in what will be a huge coup.

Victor Radley – Sydney Roosters

Radley is probably the least likely to make the switch on this list purely because he’s never lived in England despite representing them internationally.

The man who is affectionally known by his Sydney Rooster fans and family as ‘Victor the Inflictor’ for his hard-hitting and high intensity play was actually born in Australia but intended to represent his father’s native England, something he first achieved in 2022 when he performed brilliantly at the World Cup.

He also made news at the World Cup due to his off-field antics with the RFL having just announced that he won’t face any punishment for a reported incident with Irish international James Bentley of Leeds Rhinos.

That fire inside has led to bans in the NRL and with him actively pursuing an international career in England he could desire a switch to Super League, particularly if the NRL uphold the current State of Origin eligibility rules in which Radley won’t be able to represent New South Wales despite being born there, because of his England caps.

Without the sway of Origin rugby to keep him down under and with an actively stated interest in England having chosen to represent the national team could Victor the Inflictor make a Super League switch when his contract expires in 2023?

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