Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #149

Ray Mour

Which former Championship star has joined Sydney Roosters? Which Papua New Guinea international turned down moves to England? Find out in the gossip column.

Former Championship star joins Sydney Roosters

Sydney Roosters have signed former Leigh Centurions half-back Drew Hutchison as a long-term replacement for Cooper Cronk, according to The Mole.

The 23-year-old played for the Centurions in the Championship last season but left the club at the end of the season due to the club’s financial difficulties at the time.

Former Australia and Queensland star Cronk is set to retire at the end of the season and Hutchison is likely to replace him as the Roosters’ long-term playmaker alongside Luke Keary.

Where next for Barba?

Ben Barba has been deregistered by the NRL after CCTV footage confirmed his altercation with his partner at a Townsville casino on Australia Day.

The 29-year-old was sacked by North Queensland Cowboys last Friday without even playing a game for the club. He won’t play in the NRL again, that’s a definite.

His future in rugby league looks to be over, with Super League also coming out in support of the NRL, saying they will uphold any ban given to him. Rugby [Union] Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has also confirmed that any ban enforced by the NRL would also be honoured by her organisation.

Barba’s only option would be a switch to European rugby union. It looks like Barba’s career in rugby league is done and dusted.

Brown to go around again

Kevin Brown might not play again this year, but he will go around again next season, but it’s unclear whether it will be at Warrington Wolves or not.

The Wolves were dealt a blow before the season even kicked off with the news that half-back Brown will miss the whole campaign after suffering a ruptured Achilles.

The 34-year-old’s contract with Warrington expires at the end of the season and with Gareth Widdop coming in from 2020 to partner Blake Austin in the halves, it’s unclear where Brown’s future lies.

Brown is one of the nice guys in rugby league, but we understand that he will carry on playing in 2020, wherever that might be.

Super League clubs keen on NRL forward

Several Super League clubs are interested in signing back-rower Kyle Turner from South Sydney Rabbitohs with immediate effect.

In last week’s off the record gossip column, we revealed that Turner was being offered to Super League clubs due to him not being in Wayne Bennett’s future plans.

The back-rower has struggled with injuries over the last couple of seasons, but four Super League clubs have expressed an interest in him, one of them being Leeds Rhinos. It’s still early days for the deal yet though.

Makinson still has NRL dream

Last week, Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson ended speculation linking him with a move to the NRL by signing a new four-year deal with St Helens.

The England international has since revealed he wanted to repay Saints’ faith they have shown in him by committing his long-term future to the club.

But he does still have a burning desire to make a name for himself in the NRL. It is expected that the winger will move the move Down Under ahead of the 2021 season, when he will be 29.

Papua New Guinea international attracting attention

Papua New Guinea international Luke Page turned down a couple of offers from Super League and Championship clubs in the off-season.

The 28-year-old currently plays Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup, alongside former Toronto Wolfpack and Widnes Vikings ace Jack Buchanan in the front-row.

Page is a regular in Papua New Guinea’s national side and was one of their standout forwards at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. We are told he turned down the offers because he is settled where he is and doesn’t want a move overseas.