Off the Record: Rugby League Transfer Gossip #20

Backing down

Shaun Lunt is set to miss the next four to six weeks with an ankle injury. But one of our Hull-based spies tell us that is not the only problem the veteran hooker faces. Lunt is believed to have a mystery back injury that is yet to be properly diagnosed. It flares up at odd times and caused him to pull out of some games last year during the warm-up. At this stage doctors do not know exactly what the problem is. Not good news for Hull KR fans with several players battling injury at the moment, and Lunt is certinly a key figure.

Happy Gilmore

Keiron Cunningham said recently about Widnes youngster Tom Gilmore: “If he comes available and we have finances available and he fits our club then we will always look at it, but he is not a player we are openly going after at the minute”. As far as denials go it wasn’t the strongest. St Helens are quite keen on Gilmore, who is close friends with Jack Owens and Mark Percival, and also shares the same agent with those two. Gilmore, who’s off contract at the end of this year, is stuck behind Joe Mellor and Kevin Brown at the Vikings and may see a better long-term future at Langtree Park with the Aussie pair of Travis Burns and Luke Walsh. Burns and Walsh won’t be around forever. Don’t be surprised if he’s wearing the Red V in 2017, which understandably won’t make Widnes fans happy.

Cool hand Luke

The Russell Crowe vs Luke Keary spat was fun to watch, but there could be deeper repercussions for South Sydney. Keary is off contract at the end of 2016 and Souths will struggle to keep him. They have salary cap pressure to juggle and the little playmaker apparently isn’t the most popular person in Redfern. We’re told that Manly is after Keary, especially through the old Rabbitohs connection of Dylan Walker and Joe Kelly. The word at Brookvale is that Keary would be a great halves partner for Daly Cherry-Evans next year, with Walker moving to the centres and Jamie Lyon hanging up his boots. Lyon’s retirement would leave lots of cap space for a tilt at Keary.

Building Giant

Chris Bailey spent five seasons in Super League, the last two with Huddersfield. The 33-year old back-rower retired at the end of 2015 after 34 games for the Giants. Some might think the life of a professional rugby player is pretty good, cruisy and very well-paid. Well think again. We’ve been told Bailey has returned to Australia, moved to Newcastle and resumed work as a floor tiler. The forward was a tiler before he broke into the NRL in 2006 with the Knights when he was 24 years old, which is much older than most. It isn’t glamorous but good on Bailey for his no-nonsense return to normal life.

Jumping John

Still on Huddersfield and they are looking hard for a replacement for Brett Ferres. Word comes to us that Paul Anderson likes the look of Wigan back-rower John Bateman. Like Ferres, he is an England international. Like Ferres, he can score a try and is an aggressive, physical forward. Bateman would be a terrific signing for the Giants ahead of Super League XXI. Question is, can they convince Wigan to let him go? Bateman has had a terrific impact at the DW Stadium since arriving in 2014. It’s unlikely the Warriors would want to part with one of their young guns.

Coasting Inu

Krisnan Inu may have only been at Catalans for seven months but he looks to be on the move again. The Kiwi is in talks with the Gold Coast Titans about a return to the NRL. Inu crossed codes to French rugby union in 2014 after he left Canterbury. But the switch never really took and he returned to rugby league with the Dragons in June. The centre did OK, with eight tries in 13 games, but hardly set the world on fire. At this point in time he looks bound for the Titans, just as Willie Mason lands in Perpignan. Mason’s on-again, off-again, on-again move is back on and the rugby league world keeps turning.

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