Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #95

Ray Mour

All quiet on the re-structure front
We were promised that ahead of the new season, we would hear what the plans were for 2019 onwards for the structure of Super League and beyond. It seemed that the Super 8s system may have been on the way out, with talk of an expanded top flight. However, it’s all gone a bit quiet – amidst rumours that the Sky Sports TV deal is dependent on there being some form of promotion and relegation. With clubs understandably keen to ensure they don’t rock the boat and lose revenue, we might see an extension to the current system and unfortunately uncertainty for clubs as to what’s going to happen.

Knock on Wood
The long speculated departure of Nigel Wood from the RFL was finally confirmed last week, and he has already been confirmed as the chief of the international game when David Collier leaves the RLIF in May. It is likely that a new face will come in to take over the top job at the RFL, though Ralph Rimmer is believed to be a contender. Sources have long believed that Roger Draper had his eye on the chief executive role at the RFL, but his surprise departure was announced yesterday. Sally Bolton and Blake Solly have already distanced themselves from the role, and the chance of a former player being given the gig at such a critical time is next to none. Robert Elstone, currently at Everton, has been mentioned as a candidate, but the smart money currently is on Rimmer.

Getting their man
Hull KR are still confident on landing the two players they want to get in prior to the new season. Tim Sheens has been patient with recruitment, focusing efforts on getting the right men in – with one expected to be a half-back. They were linked with Dan Sarginson last month and rumours of a move for Joe Greenwood were published recently, though that seems unlikely to happen too. Although tight-lipped over the identity of the targets, Hull KR will have to move quick with just three weeks to go until the start of the season.

Knock back for Widnes
Widnes are still hopeful of bolstering their pack ahead of their Super League opener against Catalans. The Vikings thought they had an Australian forward on his way, but just like with Will Matthews before Christmas, the player in question made a u-turn on their decision to sign. With a quota spot still available, Widnes are still keen to add at least one player to their youthful squad. This was all before the tragic death of Kato Ottio.

Landmark ruling afoot?
Lawyers are believed to be working on a case which could have ramifications for all players in future that are affected by relegation. Currently, contracts become null and void when a club is relegated from Super League – which has left some players in limbo. One notable story was that of Kevin Larroyer following Hull KR’s relegation in 2016, while a handful of former Leigh players are believed to be considering their legal options having been left without a deal following the Centurions relegation.

Nuuausala exit talk unfounded
Speculation surrounding the future of Frank-Paul Nuuausala seemingly won’t go away, with reports Down Under linking him with a move to Western Suburbs, a semi-pro outfit. Wigan Today reported that his agent had no idea where the talk had come from and that he will be staying with the Warriors.

Parramatta or Leigh?
As Jarryd Hayne fronted the media on his first session at Parramatta, it could have all turned out very differently. Back in 2016, as Leigh chased promotion to Super League, he came close to joining the Centurions in a whopping £200k short-term deal. Their Super League survival prospects would surely have been far better had he been around.