“Nobody is for sale!”: Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont responds to reports of an NRL return for captain John Asiata

Ben Olawumi
John Asiata and Derek Beaumont - Alamy

Beaumont says the Leythers' skipper is going nowhere - Alamy

Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont has taken to social media to play down reports that club captain John Asiata will be departing, describing them as ‘nonsense’.

Overnight, Australian outlet Wide World of Sports published an article which said Asiata’s agent had revealed three NRL clubs were interested in tempting the 30-year-old back home.

Just this week, the big forward was described as ‘one of the smartest players in the world’, and no sooner did the rumours of a potential departure start than owner Beaumont responded.

Derek Beaumont: “I wouldn’t accept a million quid for him”

Never shy of speaking out publicly, Beaumont has been at the forefront of Leigh’s ‘Leopards project’ over the last 12 months.

Ahead of 2023, the club re-branded, ditching the ‘Centurions’ tagline which they had held for over 30 years. Beaumont also ramped up the matchday experience at the Leopards’ Den, putting on shows with artists and bands prior to each home game. He has helped to create events, rather than just games, and that’s what Super League should be all about in order to progress.

Having noted articles linking Asiata with a move away from Leigh today, the owner dismissed any of those claims with two firm responses on Twitter.

They read: “John going nowhere loves it at our club not for sale not for any price! Talking with John to extend certainly not leave!”

John is contracted and I wouldn’t accept a million quid for him. Anyone reading anything around players leaving I can gaurantee you it will be nonsense as nobody is for sale! #uptheleopards

For reference, the highest fee ever paid for a single player was believed to be around £700,000 when Sam Tomkins departed Wigan Warriors and headed to the New Zealand Warriors 10 years ago.

Will John Asiata head home?

Asiata’s move to England and Leigh, ahead of 2022, came about because of rulings surrounding the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. If players didn’t have it, they were unable to play in the NRL.

The forward, thought by some to be the best in his position in Super League this year, has enjoyed a trophy-laden career. He became an NRL Champion and winner of a World Club Challenge during his time with the North Queensland Cowboys, where he also picked up a whole host of individual accolades.

Winning the 1895 Cup and promotion with the then-Centurions last term, Asiata has this year been one of the main men in their charge up the Super League table.

He penned a two-year contract extension prior to the start of this season, and Saturday will see him lead the club out in their first Challenge Cup semi-final for over 30 years, but his time on these shores could well come to an end sooner than originally expected.

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