Leeds Rhinos have had a difficult season in 2023 and part of the problem has been sudden exits of star players.
The first exit was former skipper Kruise Leeming who is now headed for Wigan Warriors in 2024 after leaving for Gold Coast Titans.
Then Blake Austin left on deadline day leaving the club short of spine players for the run in.
They were then forced to release Zane Tetevano after a long absence due to a stroke. He has gone home.
Then Nene MacDonald left for Australia and hasn’t returned and is set to leave the club officially.
According to Australian source Zero Tackle this is all but confirmed with the club targeting Paul Momirovski from Sydney Roosters.
But MacDonald has spoken out about the situation in a confusing statement:
“I came back to Australia for the birth of my child,” he told Post-Courier. “I signed a four-year deal, I’m still there and I don’t know what everyone is saying but I still got a four-year deal.
“I’m still contracted and I haven’t done anything wrong…we (Rhinos) can’t make the finals so I’m staying back and getting the chance to play and it’s just exciting to be back. It’s been too long like 2019 COVID and home and being away in England…miss being here and it’s good to be back home.”
Smith did reveal text messages with the player whoever.
He said: “I had a few text messages exchanged a couple of weeks ago now. That was the last time I’ve had communication.
“It’s been left to Gary and Nene’s management to sort out where that goes.
“I’m not going to speculate about any scenarios there. There hasn’t been an update in the last four or five days since I was last asked that question.
“So when there is, we’ll be looking forward to a resolution to it for Neta and his young family to get the best solution and also for the club, whatever that works out to be.
“That’s just an ongoing process at the moment. He’s unavailable this week.”