Leeds Rhinos: Nene Macdonald future addressed with CEO Gary Hetherington in charge of negotiations

Josh McAllister

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith admits chief executive Gary Hetherington is leading the conversations with Nene Macdonald amid the speculation regarding the centre’s future at Headingley Stadium.

Macdonald, 29, was granted a period of leave to return home to Australia due to the birth of his child earlier this month.

The Papua New Guinea international was expected to return in time for the Round 24 clash with Hull, having been named in the provisional 21-man squad.

However, Leeds confirmed on the night before the fixture that the former Leigh man had not return as expected.

Macdonald currently still remains Down Under and was not included in the squad to take on Wigan Warriors this Saturday at Headingley Stadium, live on Sky Sports.

Coach Smith admits he has left those discussions with chief Hetherington, instead opting to focus on the remaining Super League fixtures with a slim chance of the Super League play-offs.

Macdonald had only recently signed a long-term deal with the Rhinos until the end of 2027, but could see his time cut short.

Rohan Smith coy on Nene Macdonald future

“That’s one that’s in Gary’s hands at the moment” Australian Smith told media on Thursday.

“I’m very focussed on what is a huge game on Saturday against Wigan.

“Gary will be sure to update me when there’s updates.

“I’m not going to speculate about possible scenarios or what may or may not happen. That’s in the hands of Gary and Nene’s management team.”

Meanwhile, Smith confirmed new deals for off-contract duo James Bentley and David Fusitu’a beyond the 2023 campaign.

Ireland international Bentley, 25, has agreed terms to a new two-year deal with his hometown club. Meanwhile, former NRL winger Fusitu’a, 28, has extended his stay until the end of 2024.

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