Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #162

Ray Mour

Which rugby union star did Wigan make a move for? Which Widnes player is on Salford’s radar? What is the latest on the Ottawa and New York bids? Find out in the gossip column. 

Wigan failed to sign union superstar

It was interesting to learn in The Sun over the weekend that Wigan Warriors had failed in their attempts to bring England rugby union international Owen Farrell to the club for 2020.

There has been heaps of speculation for a couple of years now that Farrell could one day come back to rugby league, given the fact his dad is rugby league legend, Andy Farrell. It’s probably important not to forget he is the nephew of Warriors skipper Sean O’Loughlin and the cousin of Liam Farrell. The Warriors were ambitious in their attempts to sign Farrell for next season but with his wage demands being too high, it looks as though Wigan will do everything they can to sign Salford Red Devils playmaker Jackson Hastings.

Salford keen on Widnes ace

Salford Red Devils are interested in Widnes Vikings hooker Jordan Johnstone. Red Devils coach Ian Watson was at Heywood Road on Sunday to watch Johnstone against Swinton, who has played virtually every minute as Widnes’ first choice number nine since the departure of Liam Hood.

The Cumbrian has 50 first-team appearances under his belt and is off-contract at the end of the year, with uncertainty over whether Widnes will be able to offer a full-time deal for next season, which either way is more than likely to be in the Championship.

Minikin to leave Castleford

Greg Minikin is set to leave Castleford Tigers at the end of the current season.

The 24-year-old is off-contract at the end of the year and it’s not going to be renewed by the Tigers. Minikin, who can play centre or wing, has scored 38 tries in 78 appearances for Castleford since arriving from York City Knights back in 2016. With Castleford having recently signed Cheyse Blair from Melbourne Storm and also reportedly being interested in Salford Red Devils outside-back Derrell Olpherts, it looks as though Minikin’s time at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle is up. He won’t be short of offers though.

Championship could breakaway from RFL

Championship clubs could breakaway from the RFL, in the same way that their Super League counterparts have done, to gain greater control over their broadcast and commercial assets.

There is a belief that the RFL should focus on the governance of the game, including such things as officiating and grassroots, and enable the clubs and league as a whole to focus on generating the best sponsorship deals for them, and not just be lumped in as an extra with the overall discussions for Super League and the Challenge Cup as previous.

Ottawa bid making waves

The Ottawa bid to join League One, led by Eric Perez, is close to being confirmed and accepted, with time running out to get them in place for 2020.

There are doubts over the New York bid and where the funds are coming from, and given the stringent time constraints next season looks increasingly unlikely, if at all. It is believed a Russian consortium is behind the bid.

Marshall favourite for Leeds job

Richard Marshall is currently the frontrunner to become the next Leeds Rhinos coach.

Marshall is the leading candidate to take over the coaching reins at Emerald Headingley following the sacking of Dave Furner. Marshall parted company with Championship side Halifax earlier this month after an impressive stint with the part-time outfit. Marshall was also spotted talking to Leeds’ director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield, at the Salford-Leeds game last Friday.