Nene Macdonald Papua New Guinea squad inclusion adds more uncertainty to Leeds Rhinos future

Josh McAllister
Nene Macdonald

Nene Macdonald has been named in the Papua New Guinea squad to take on the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII, adding more uncertainty to his Leeds Rhinos future. 

The 29-year-old centre has been included in Justin Holbrook’s first ever PNG squad for next weekend’s fixture at Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby, on Saturday, September 23.

It is the first Prime Minister’s XIII encounter in PNG since 2018.

Macdonald was expected to return to England ahead of the Round 24 clash with Hull, having been granted a leave of absence to return Down Under for the birth of his child.

He was named in Rohan Smith’s provisional 21-man squad for the fixture at the MKM Stadium, with the club later confirming that he would not feature having not returned to the country as anticipated.

Head coach Smith, 42, has previously implied that he does not know when, or even if, the international centre will return to Headingley Stadium, with chief executive Gary Hetherington taking charge of the discussions between the two parties.

Asked again about the situation during his weekly press conference, Australian Smith told media: “At the moment, there’s no update on that one.

“That’s just an ongoing process at the moment. He’s still unavailable.”

Macdonald’s inclusion in the PNG squad indicates that he will not return before the end of the season, with just two regular rounds left.

The Rhinos take on Catalans Dragons this Saturday, live on Sky Sports, in a final bid for a play-off spot. He has not been named in the squad to travel to Perpignan, while the final fixture is at home to Castleford Tigers.

New Warrington recruit Rodrick Tai and incoming Castleford forward Nixon Putt have also been included.

PNG men’s Prime Minister’s XIII

Treigh Stewart – Dragons

Robert Derby – Cowboys

Rodrick Tai – Hunters

Zac Laybutt – Cowboys

Nene Macdonald – Leeds

Gary James – Enga Mioks

Kyle Laybutt – Townsville

Epel Kapinias – Hunters

Judah Rimbu – Hunters

Valentine Richard – Hunters

Nixon Putt – Capras

Jerimiah Simbiken – Dolphins

Cruise Ten – Souths Logan

Morea Morea – Hunters

Junior Rop – Hunters

Tommy Moide – Hunters

Seal Kalo – Hunters

Benji Kot – Hunters

Australian men’s Prime Minister’s XIII squad

Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs)

Daly Cherry-Evans, vice capt. (Sea Eagles)

Reuben Cotter (Cowboys)

Tom Dearden (Cowboys)

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans)

Emre Guler (Raiders)

Ben Hunt (Dragons)

Nicho Hynes (Sharks)

Alofiana Khan-Pereira (Titans)

Zac Lomax (Dragons)

Cameron McInnes (Sharks)

Michael Molo (Dragons)

Cameron Murray, capt. (Rabbitohs)

Reece Robson (Cowboys)

Tyrell Sloan (Dragons)

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Dolphins)

Murray Taulagi (Cowboys)

Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)

Cody Walker (Rabbitohs)

Hudson Young (Raiders)

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