Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #152

Ray Mour

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Which Widnes forward are Leeds interested in? Who is on their way out of Wigan? Did David Argyle want to relocate Widnes to Liverpool? It’s the rumour and gossip column…

Leeds interested in Widnes forward

One Widnes player attracting Super League attention is Papua New Guinea international Wellington Albert.

Though he has at times struggled to get in to the Vikings team, Leeds Rhinos are interested in taking him to Headingley. He has previously worked with Rhinos coach Dave Furner Down Under.

Albert was the first Papua New Guinea player to be signed by an NRL club without having played junior rugby league in Australia when he signed a deal with Penrith Panthers back in 2014.

Wigan forward to leave at end of 2019

Wigan Warriors forward Taulima Tautai is set to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old is contracted to the Warriors until the end of the 2020 season, but he could well be on his way out at the end of this year. He has dropped down the pecking order in the Wigan pack over the last 12 months due to impressive performances from Gabe Hamlin and Romain Navarrete.

And with Wigan’s academy talent continuing to flourish, the likes of Liam Byrne and Ollie Partington could soon overtake Tautai in the pecking order.

Perez purchase of Hemel licence causes controversy

Eric Perez’s new team is set to be based in Jacksonville, after he bought Hemel Stags’ licence to run a League 1 team in 2020.

The move hasn’t come without controversy though – Manchester Rangers were allegedly recently asked for £500,000 to buy in to the league, while the New York bid have also baulked at a consultancy fee they were asked to pay, hence the lack of progress with their public bid.

Huddersfield youngster to be loaned out

Huddersfield Giants utility-back Tom Holmes is set to be loaned out to a Championship club as he bids to get more game time, while continuing to return to match fitness after a lengthy injury lay-off.

The 22-year-old has not featured for Simon Woolford’s side since his move from Featherstone Rovers on a three-year deal in the off-season.

Holmes was a standout in the Championship for Rovers last season, but he suffered a knee injury at the Summer Bash. He is set to return to action in April and will be loaned out to a Championship side.


Toronto boss Argyle targeted Widnes

Toronto Wolfpack owner David Argyle was genuinely interested in investing in Widnes Vikings, before pulling out over the weekend.

Speculation he wanted to move the club to Liverpool were wide of the mark, though he was thought to want to rename the club to Liverpool, but keep it based at the Halton Stadium. The impressive development pathway at Widnes would have led to that supporting the Wolfpack’s progress. 

Newcastle begin search for new coach

Not many people would’ve expected a coach to be sacked this early into the season, but Newcastle Thunder have released Jason Payne with immediate effect.

The North East club, who are one of the favourites to win the League 1 title and gain promotion to the Championship, have endured a poor start to the season after losing to Doncaster and Coventry Bears.

Thunder are expected to announce Payne’s replacement in March. Ex-Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts and former Rochdale Hornets boss Alan Kilshaw have revealed in recent weeks they would like a return to coaching, while Mike Grady has not been involved in semi-professional rugby league since parting ways with North Wales Crusaders in 2018.

It’s an appetising job for anyone and with Thunder boasting an impressive squad this year, they will no doubt have many applicants for the head coaching role.