Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #140

Are Steeden making a return? What does Gareth Widdop’s future look like? Which Warrington player is unhappy? Find out more in Ray Mour’s gossip column. 

Steeden balls back in 2019

The Steeden rugby balls will return to Super League from the 2019 season, Love Rugby League understands.

The Rhino rugby balls were introduced to Super League ahead of the 2013 campaign and have been used ever since, but they have come under heavy criticism by players, coaches and fans due to its slippery grip.

The NRL have still been using Steeden though and a lot of English-based fans have been jealous in recent years. The Steeden ball will return in 2019.

Five expansion clubs will not play in 1895 Cup

The new 1895 Cup is likely to have a somewhat traditional feel. With Toronto and Toulouse having already been confirmed as not participating, there are three League 1 sides who won’t be joining in with the competition either – believed to be North Wales, West Wales and London Skolars.

The remaining eight sides will play in the first round, with the four winners going on to join the 12 other Championship clubs in the second round. That leaves just Coventry and Newcastle flying the flag outside of the traditional areas of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Widdop to come to Super League in 2020

England international Gareth Widdop is set to return to his homeland in 2020, Love Rugby League understands.

Reports emerged from Down Under earlier this week that Widdop had requested a release from his contract with St George Illawarra Dragons, but the player himself has confirmed that the reports were incorrect and is fully committed to the Dragons for 2019.

He did, however, reiterate his desire to finish his career in his country of birth and wants to play in Super League. Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves would be the expected destinations, with both clubs having marquee spots available as well as having the cash to afford him.

Sky Sports to broadcast Championship clash

Sky Sports are set to show the Toronto Wolfpack clash with Widnes Vikings at Newcastle’s Kingston Park, which follows the League 1 clash between Thunder and Doncaster.

It’s on the weekend of the World Club Challenge, and Sky’s desire to show the game is believed to have been one of the reasons that Toronto couldn’t agree a fixture swap with Widnes – and instead enable Widnes to travel to Canada in June. The Vikings took more fans than any other club to Canada last year, according to their travel partner, and would have been fancied to take bigger numbers with more notice this time round. Sky continue to receive pressure to show more Championship games, though it is unknown whether they will expand on their coverage of last year – basically Toronto games and the Summer Bash.

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