Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #168

Who have made an immediate offer for Jackson Hastings? Which club are going part-time? When is the Great Britain shirt out? Find out in the gossip column. 

Leeds make Hastings approach

Leeds have made an approach to sign Salford half-back Jackson Hastings with immediate effect as they aim to avoid relegation from Super League.

Hastings is one of the most sought-after players in Super League at the moment. It is believed that Wigan are still confident of signing the Australian for 2020 but face tough competition, with NRL sides Newcastle Knights and St George Illawarra Dragons also interested. The Rhinos wanted to sign Hastings for the rest of this year, but the Red Devils turned around and said they wanted £400k for him to go midway through the season. The battle for Hastings goes on!

Widnes to go part-time

Widnes are set to go part-time next season, which will likely lead to a raft of departures from the club.

Players have been told of the club’s decision, meaning contracts will be null and void at the end of the campaign, and that they are free to find other clubs. They are being encouraged to seek full-time deals elsewhere, though some may stay on a part-time basis. Keanan Brand has all but signed for Warrington, while it also means Anthony Gelling will leave halfway through a two-year deal. The Vikings have been starved of their anticipated central funding for their academy, as well as the parachute payment, which has left a hole in their finances, and the RFL remain unconvinced by their current situation.

Burrell to feature in 2021 World Cup

Warrington’s new recruit Luther Burrell might have only just switched over to rugby league from rugby union but he could well take part in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

The 31-year-old joined the Wolves on a two-and-a-half-year deal from Northampton Saints. Burrell played rugby league during his junior days and has been training with Steve Price’s side over the last couple of weeks. Burrell has earned 15 caps for England at rugby union level but he has also represented Jamaica through his father Geoff at Sevens in Hong Kong. If he hits it off in rugby league, Burrell could make it into the England side but he could also decide to represent his family heritage and play for Jamaica in 2021.

Done deals for Salford

Salford have completed the signings of London forward Luke Yates, Hull KR half-back Chris Atkin and Wigan centre Dan Sarginson for the 2020 season and beyond.

The Red Devils are holding off announcing their new recruits for the time being though. Effectively, Yates and Sarginson will replace the outgoing Josh Jones and Jake Bibby. Atkin will add competition to the halves of Jackson Hastings and Rob Lui. The latter was heavily linked with a move to Hull KR for next season but with Tim Sheens having been sacked by the Robins, Salford are quietly confident that Lui will remain at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Sun not shining on Super League

Super League and the RFL appear unmoved over the lack of coverage in The Sun, the UK’s best selling newspaper.

They continue to snub the sport, including not even publishing results of games in the paper, after reporter Gary Carter was prevented from covering the Magic Weekend by hosts Liverpool FC. Despite the impact on a long-serving, well-respected rugby league journalist, and the significant amount of eyeballs on the publication regardless of people’s opinion of it, there doesn’t appear to be a rush to resolve the situation which could impact, albeit a small amount, on Super League’s sponsorship value moving forward.

Great Britain shirt details

The Great Britain shirts will be officially unveiled to the public in July.

Lions coach Wayne Bennett donned a smart blue Great Britain polo at his press conference on Tuesday, which was held at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium. The blue polo shirts are the only Lions merchandise that has been made so far – but they are unavailable to the public at present. The match shirt will be unveiled next month though, definitely.

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