St Helens coach Paul Wellens has responded to the recent reports linking star hooker Joey Lussick with a return to Parramatta Eels in the NRL.
Earlier this week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Lussick was being lined up by his former club Parramatta for a mid-season switch to help cover injuries.
England international Josh Hodgson, currently at the Eels, is set to see a specialist this week to find out the extent of a neck injury, per the reports.
Hodgson underwent surgery last month, and there’s reportedly a possible chance of the 33-year-old missing the remainder of the season.
And with Mitch Rein announcing his retirement earlier this season, the Eels lack depth in the hooking role and a move for Lussick was reported to be on the cards.
Speaking to the media in his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Wellens said he was aware of the reports but reiterated that Lussick is contracted to the Super League champions until at least the end of next season.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Wellens said when asked if the club had been approached by Parramatta. “I think that’s probably a discussion for Mike Rush (chief executive).
“We are obviously aware of those reports as well and to be honest sometimes I’m quite flattered when our players do get linked with NRL clubs because it shows that we are doing something right.
“As I sit here now, Joey Lussick is a Saints player and he is contracted until the end of 2024.”
‘Joey Lussick an important member of the group’ – St Helens boss Paul Wellens
Lussick returned to Super League with St Helens ahead of the 2022 campaign on a three-year deal, making 50 appearances for the champions, with 18 of those coming this season.
The ex-Salford and Manly Sea Eagles man has predominantly featured from the bench for the Saints, with skipper James Roby still playing big minutes at the age of 37.
Roby, who has won six Super League titles, four Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges, will hang up the boots at the end of the season, creating an opportunity for someone else to wear the nine shirt at St Helens in 2024.
Wellens added: “I know that sometimes he has been frustrated with his lack of game time.
“I know in myself personally, I made the wrong call the other week when I left Joey out of the team (against Hull) and I’ve held my hands up to that but at the same time, when he’s played over the last couple of weeks he’s been really influential.
“I thought he was great again on the weekend and I thought him and James Roby worked in tandem brilliantly so there’s no issue on our part. Joey is an important member of the group.”