Your weekly round-up of the rumours and gossip circling around rugby league. Heard something? Drop it in the comments below.
Infighting and politics
Rugby league is in crisis. When the sport needs to grow, attract sponsors, more fans and new markets, in-fighting and politics is dominating discussions and resource. With Robert Elstone set to head up Super League, the RFL’s influence is diminishing and it’s not ending there. Rugby League Cares, the RFL’s charity arm, is set to break away from the shackles of the governing body and run independently. Whoever does get the top job at the RFL has a massive PR job on their hands to fight the fires that are springing up in almost every area of the game right now.
Green and Brown
It’s not been a great week for the rumour mill with reports elsewhere being rubbished almost as quickly as they’ve been put out. The latest one being that Hull were moving for Castleford’s James Green on loan, something the Airlie Birds quickly dismissed, and they are instead going after Doncaster’s Liam Harris. Another one that may still have legs is Mason Caton-Brown to Salford, though such talk was soon played down by Wakefield chairman Michael Carter on Twitter.
Out of contract lists
The players out of contract lists seem to have ruffled some feathers, especially with players who had been anticipated to be on the list but aren’t. There are a number of deals for out of contract players that have already been agreed but not announced, so discussion of surprise exits are unfounded. One club impacted by some of that chat is St Helens, who have been linked with Kevin Naiqama while former captain Jon Wilkin is out of contract at the end of the year, but a lot of their movement will of course depend on the future of a certain Ben Barba.
With Sam Tomkins off to Perpignan to join Tony Gigot and David Mead in competing for the number one, or number six, jerseys, reports in France are already speculating that maybe someone might be moved on. Mead, who only joined on a three-year deal back in December, is being linked with a move to Castleford, who are in the market for a full-back having lost Zak Hardaker at the back end of last year and the Ben Roberts experiment hasn’t really gone as planned. Hardaker is still being linked with a move to Wigan, and though Frenchman Morgan Escare recently penned a new deal there, he too is believed to be attracting the attention of other clubs according to the French press.
Speaking of Tomkins to Catalans, it’s added fuel to the conspiracy theorists that certain teams know they’re going to be in Super League next season. That’s rubbish. The 12 teams that will be in Super League next season will be decided on the pitch as per previous seasons. That is of course assuming Toronto Wolfpack are allowed to be promoted should they make it, following Ralph Rimmer’s comments earlier in the year that their progress would be reviewed.