Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #206

The rumour and gossip column is back.

Nines weekends

The Magic Weekend and Summer Bash could be 9s weekends in 2021.

A number of ideas have been discussed with clubs surrounding Summer Bash, with a 9s competition at Blackpool set to get the go ahead, involving Championship, League 1 and Women’s Super League teams. The format of Magic Weekend is dependent on the decision around Toronto, as if the Wolfpack don’t make it, then the traditional format will not work with an 11-team competition. Both will of course be dependent on fans being allowed back in grounds by then.

Long linked with Leeds

Sean Long and Lee Gilmour are being linked with backroom roles at Leeds. Long quit his job at Harlequins rugby union last week and was immediately linked with the vacant Widnes head coach job. He played for Widnes briefly at the beginning of his career, but is being tipped for a move to Headingley.

James Webster is likely to return to Featherstone following the end of the dual-registration system that forged close links between the Championship side and the Rhinos and saw him and predecessor Ryan Carr serve as assistant.

Sheens’ Widnes departure

Mystery still surrounds Tim Sheens’ sudden departure from Widnes, though the departure of his trusted right-hand man Jamie Elkaleh is believed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Elkaleh was with Sheens at Salford and Hull KR, and is understood to have been dismissed by Widnes via email the week before Sheens’ departure. The club say the move wasn’t financially motivated and their job advert for the head coach role confirms an assistant and other backroom roles are already in place.

Players wait on Toronto decision

Ryan Hall is one of several players now waiting for a decision on Toronto Wolfpack’s future.

The former Leeds winger had agreed a deal for 2021, leaving him in limbo. He’s not the only player in that situation, though some other planned signings have already agreed deals elsewhere, including Richie Myler re-signing at Headingley. The Wolfpack’s existing squad are still waiting too, with Sonny Bill Williams still on contract for 2021 after his loan deal at Sydney Roosters ended.

Sammut future

Half-back Jarrod Sammut seems to be on the lookout for a new club.

The 33-year-old doesn’t appear to have re-signed with Leigh for next season and there was talk of him possibly re-joining Wigan, but nothing has materialised from that. Sammut will no doubt add a lot of experience to his next club, with Malta international having made more than 250 career appearances in Australia and the UK.

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