Off the Record: Rugby League Transfer Gossip #21

Leigh learnings

Hasn’t the proverbial hit the fan at the Leigh Sports Village last week with the shock exit of Paul Rowley? The rumour mill has gone into overdrive, with star Ryan Brierley now linked with his own departure from the club. With Sam Barlow facing an assault charge and injury issues for Greg McNally and Wille Tonga, it hasn’t been the best past few weeks for the Centurions. On Rowley, the word on the street is that he apparently may have had enough of Derek Beaumont and decided to walk. The speculation is that there may have even been an issue at Leigh’s pre-season camp in Spain. There will be a lot of nervous Super League coaches with the talented Rowley waiting in the wings. Apparently Rowley turned down the chance to be Chris Chester’s assistant at Hull KR last year.

Ryan’s run

And on the talented Leigh half it appears he will be a Leeds Rhino next season. Brierley is sure to be approached by a large number of Super League clubs, with Salford very interested and Hull KR also keen on the dynamic playmaker, but we understand a move to Headingley is virtually a done deal. Brierley has been dynamite for Leigh but he is not getting any younger and needs to be playing in the top flight. And a long-term pairing in the halves with Liam Sutcliffe, under the coaching of Brian Mac, would make a pretty bright future for the next half decade for the Rhinos.

Snaking to France

One of our spies tells us that Glenn Stewart‘s younger brother Brett may be joining him in Perpignan next year. Glenn and Brett played virtually their whole careers together at Manly, until 2015 when big brother Glenn was forced out of Brookvale in an ugly departure. ‘Gifty’ went to Souths for a season before joining Catalans. The French club have strong Manly links with ex-Sea Eagles Justin Horo and Willie Mason now at the club while Michael Monagahan, who both Glenn and Brett played with on the northern beaches, is an assistant coach at the Dragons. Brett Stewart is contracted to Manly for 2017 but the club is under pressure with the salary cap and young gun Tom Trbojevic is being groomed as the next number one fullback.

Houston we have a problem

Widnes’ new signing Chris Houston is pushing it to be ready for the start of the season. We understand the forward only arrived in the UK a few days ago and won’t feature against Wakefield in round one. Houston’s hold up was waiting for a visa for his child, as he and his partner were expecting their first baby in late December. It hasn’t been the ideal preparation for the Newcastle Knights back-rower and it will be a big ask for him to quickly gel with his new Vikings teammates and hit the ground running, especially with no pre-season under his belt.

Jumping JP

There has been a ton of talk this year about what Jamie Peacock‘s precise role at Hull KR is. The ‘head of rugby’ has minimal influence on the first team, we have heard, with his focus being on the long-term planning at the club. The role does include recruitment but no coaching. Hull KR‘s innovative pre-season community and initiative exercises were the idea of the club’s conditioning staff, not the ex-Bradford and Leeds legend. With Chris Chester having recently admitted he could be under pressure if results are poor, and pre-season results have hardly been eye-catching, it will be intetesting to see if JP’s remit alters at all.

Mixed messages

Twenty-nine-year old prop Tony Suffolk has been training with St Helens and could be about to join their reserve team. Suffolk was a key player at Rochdale last year officially but signed for Swinton in October. Now here’s where it gets confusing, as Suffolk was apparently after a visa to Australia to play in Queensland. But that may have been knocked on the head due to a drink-drive conviction. If Suffolk can’t secure a move down under, he may link up with Saints permanently or return to Swinton for the 2016 season. Talk about a muddle.

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