“I’m not sure where he’s going to end up” – Wigan-linked youngster set for Leeds exit

Josh McAllister
Sam Walters, SWPix

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Leeds coach Rohan Smith has confirmed that contract negotiations with rising talent Sam Walters have broken down, with the youngster set for an exit.

Smith says that the club offered the 22-year-old a ‘massive upgrade’ on his current deal. However, the Widnes-born back-rower is set to leave Headingley Stadium at the end of the current campaign.

It has been reported by Leeds Live that Walters is set to join Matt Peet’s Wigan Warriors next season, with Ireland international James McDonnell having gone the other way at the end of 2022.

Walters has made just four appearances this season, featuring just once since March against Salford in Round 11.

In total, the Widnes academy youngster has made 25 Super League appearances for the Rhinos.

Smith confirmed that contract conversations have come to a halt, despite offering an upgraded deal.

 Smith confirms Sam Walters departure

The Leeds boss said: “We made Sam a really strong offer – a long-term offer – and a massive upgrade on his previous contract.

“And that’s where the conversations sort of came to an end. I’m not sure where he’s going to end up.”

Rohan Smith discusses current contract situation

Walters is one of handful of off-contract players at Leeds at the end of the year, with Smith previously insisting that he would like to keep Walters as well as winger Liam Tindall.

Blake Austin, James Bentley, James Donaldson, David Fusitu’a, Aidan Sezer and Zane Tetevano are also believed to be without a deal beyond the current season. 

“Nothing is settled,” Smith continued on contract negotiations.

“Those conversations will continue to happen and when there’s an update, there will be an update. 

“The recruitment and retention is an ongoing, daily conversation and there’s plenty of decisions to be made as we go.”

Smith also denied rumours linking interest to Wakefield half-back and Samoa international Mason Lino for 2024.

The 29-year-old is without a deal for next season at Belle Vue, although head coach Mark Applegarth has recently stated that he hopes to retain the ex-NRL playmaker.

“I’ve not had a conversation with Mason or his management,” Smith added.

“He’s a good player, I’ve known Mason a long time. But there has been zero communication as far as a contract goes to my knowledge.”

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