Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #143

Where has Patrick Ah Van gone to? Which of England’s rising stars are attracting NRL interest? Who wants to sign Gareth Widdop? Find out more in the gossip column.  

Ah Van joins French team

Former Widnes Vikings winger Patrick Ah Van has joined French side Villeghailhenc-Aragon XIII for the 2019 season, Love Rugby League understands.

The 30-year-old was released by the Vikings following their relegation from Super League at the end of last season after spending seven seasons at the club, scoring 91 tries in 118 games.

Villeghailhenc-Aragon XIII play in France’s Elite Two Championship and act as a feeder team for AS Carcassonne, who play in the Elite One Championship. Ah Van will join Vinnie Anderson and Louis Anderson at the club next year.

England Academy duo attract NRL interest

England Academy stars Harry Smith and Jack Welsby are attracting interest from the NRL, according to well-respected Australian journalist, The Mole.

Half-back Smith, who has recently signed a new three-year deal with Wigan Warriors, and Welsby, who has already played first-team for St Helens, were standout stars in England Academy’s 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys.

This news doesn’t come as a surprise though. They are two of the hottest prospects in British rugby league and certainly have the potential to become world superstars.

Salford keen on young half-back

According to Total RL, Salford Red Devils are hoping to secure the services of Warrington Wolves half-back Morgan Smith for next season.

The 20-year-old has struggled to find regular game-time at the Wolves, playing just seven Super League games last season.

Smith has reportedly been told that he can leave Warrington if he can find a deal elsewhere. Hull KR were in for Smith but turned their attention to free agent Josh Drinkwater when he became available.

Cox back in Hull

Jordan Cox is back in rugby league and back in Hull, but this time on the other side of the city.

Cox has been training with Hull FC during pre-season as he looks to find a way back into Super League.

The 26-year-old made his Super League debut in 2011 for Hull Kingston Rovers, playing 64 games for the club, before moving to Warrington Wolves in 2016. He has since enjoyed spells at Sheffield Eagles and York City Knights. He will look to impress FC coach Lee Radford in the hope of gaining a full-time contract with the Black and Whites.

Huddersfield want Widdop

The Mole has been on good form with his contacts in England recently, with Huddersfield Giants coach Simon Woolford revealing that they would like Gareth Widdop at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The England international has committed to St George Illawarra Dragons for 2019, but he is expected to return to his homeland the following season and finish his career in Super League.

Woolford told WWOS: “We want him. Gareth is a world-class player and we can pay him what he is worth. We will be making a move at the appropriate time.”

Widnes to confirm new signing soon

Widnes Vikings are expected to confirm the signing of half-back Dom Speakman in the coming days, Love Rugby League understands.

The 24-year-old came through the ranks at St Helens, where he made one appearance. He then enjoyed spells in the lower divisions with Rochdale Hornets, Barrow Raiders, North Wales Crusaders and Dewsbury Rams, making over 60 career appearances.

Speakman is primarily a half-back but can also play at hooker. He will provide competition for Tom Gilmore, Danny Craven and Joe Lyons in the halves.