Leeds Rhinos: Six half-backs on the market who could replace departing Aidan Sezer

Josh McAllister
Leeds Rhinos

With Aidan Sezer heading for an exit from Leeds Rhinos, here are six options Rohan Smith could look at to replace the Australian half-back.

Examiner Live have reported that the 32-year-old is set to return home Down Under at the end of the year and will not be extending his stay in Super League.

The experienced veteran made the switch ahead of the 2020 campaign with Huddersfield, having represented Gold Coast Titans and Canberra Raiders in the NRL.

He joined the Rhinos in 2022, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Blake Austin’s future is still up in the air, although the player has teased a contract update in the immediate future.

With Sezer’s future now all-but confirmed, coach Smith may be tempted to look into the market to bolster his options, with rising prospect Jack Sinfield also contracted with the club until at least the end of 2026.

Every player below is without a contract beyond the 2023 campaign.

Kyle Flanagan

Kyle Flanagan has spent much of his NRL career to date under the microscope, finding himself dropped to the reserve grade in 2023 at Canterbury Bulldogs.

The 24-year-old is believed to be on a contract worth around £300,000, with 72 appearances in the NRL, scoring 11 tries.

He has featured just 10 times in 2023 after falling down the pecking order, and has also been utilised at hooker.

Father Shane Flanagan is set to take charge at St George Illawarra Dragons from next season, who gave Kyle his debut with Cronulla Sharks in 2018.

The pair could link up once again, with Shane previously commenting via Fox Sports: “Kyle has got a few offers, he’s got a few opportunities to weigh up in the next four or five weeks,” Flanagan said.

“Obviously he’s changed positions from halfback to hooker and back to halfback so we’ll wait and see what happens but no decision has been made there yet.”

Wests Tigers are also currently seeking a half-back following Luke Brooks’ four-year deal with Manly Sea Eagles starting 2024, with Super League’s Jake Clifford and Brodie Croft also linked.

Brandon Wakeham

Fiji international Brandon Wakeham is expected to leave the Wests Tigers after just one year at the club at the end of the season.

The 24-year-old previously considered his options for a Super League move ahead of the 2023 campaign, via Examiner Live, and could be again looking at the possibility of an opportunity in England.

Wakeham featured in all four of Fiji’s World Cup games last year, and has made 39 appearances in the NRL since his debut with Canterbury Bulldogs back in 2019.

His reported salary is substantially less than Flanagan’s, which would help with a move to Super League under the current salary cap rules – unless he was to be made a marquee player.

Jack Cogger

Ex-Huddersfield Giants playmaker Jack Cogger has been plying his trade with NRL champions Penrith Panthers in 2023, making 10 appearances and scoring three tries.

He made 27 appearances at the John Smith’s Stadium across two seasons, and only signed a one-year deal under Ivan Cleary.

Reports however suggest that Cogger would be keen to remain at Penrith, having found his best form again back in the NRL, acting as a replacement for New South Wales star Nathan Cleary.

Lachlan Lam

In a very unlikely move, Leigh Leopards star Lachlan Lam is still without a confirmed deal for 2024, although father and head coach Adrian has insisted the club are doing all they can to retain the Papua New Guinea international.

Lachlan has played his best rugby league to date following his move from the NRL, with 19 assists in the current season – the second most in the competition behind St Helens full-back Jack Welsby (20).

He has been ever-present in Super League in 2023 with 18 appearances, scoring six tries, and is arguably the in-form half-back of the competition.

Adrian previously said on his son’s future: “What I do know about Lachlan is that he is absolutely loving it here at the moment.

“He’s enjoying the way that the Super League is being run and how the games unfold.

“He loves the crowds and our fans here. He has got a real big following locally really quickly but he is playing great rugby.

“I know he is enjoying his rugby here and as long as that he’s enjoying his rugby here, I’m sure he’ll stay here and help us develop as a club over the next couple of years.

“The other stuff we can’t control at the moment. All I know is that he wants to be a part of us and wants to stay here so let’s enjoy that whilst its happening and keep developing him as well.”

Drew Hutchison

Another player who has already featured in England, Drew Hutchison played one season with then-Leigh Centurions in the Championship back in 2018.

He was given the number seven shirt alongside Ben Reynolds, and later returned to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters.

Hutchinson has since made 68 appearances for the Roosters, having also been utilised in the centres.

However, if he wants a permanent switch back to the halves, then a move might be on the cards.

Adam Clune

28-year-old half-back Adam Clune remains without a deal in the NRL for 2024, currently with the Newcastle Knights.

He signed a two-year contract with the club ahead of 2022 from St George Illawarra Dragons, and has made a total of 43 appearances in the competition since his debut in 2020.

Clune has been featuring in the New South Wales Cup in 2023, yet to feature for the first team this year.

Much like his good friend Jackson Hastings, Clune could find his best form in Super League if he can secure a move.

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