RL Today: Hardaker future, Samoan Sao, Braveheart Graham & Ford to leave York

Drew Darbyshire
Zak Hardaker Leeds Rhinos

Hardaker future

Leeds coach Rohan Smith has admitted that the club do not have any salary cap room available to re-sign Zak Hardaker, who is out of contract. (Leeds Live)

Speaking after their defeat to New Zealand, Smith told Leeds Live: “We can’t do anything until there is some salary cap room. Currently, Zak is uncontracted and there is no salary cap room to make a move.”

Former Man of Steel Hardaker returned to the Rhinos in April from Wigan on a deal until the end of the season.

Sao earns Samoa call-up

Hull forward Ligi Sao has been called up to Samoa’s squad for the World Cup.

The 29-year-old replaces Luciano Leilua, who was stood down by the NRL last week for an off-field incident. Sao made his international debut for Samoa in 2018. He also represented his Samoan heritage at the Nines World Cup in 2019.

Ford to leave York

Highly-rated coach James Ford has left York after eight seasons in charge of the ambitious Championship club. (Yorkshire Live)

Ford is in talks with Wakefield over becoming Mark Applegarth’s assistant for 2023, according to Yorkshire Live.

Johns unimpressed by Australia squad numbers

Former Australia international Matty Johns is unimpressed by the Kangaroos devising their own system for numbering jerseys at the World Cup. (SEN)

Speaking to SEN 1170 The Run Home, Johns said: “The traditional jerseys and numbers are part of the history of the sport, and you shouldn’t tamper with it.

Braveheart Graham

This time last month, South Sydney Rabbitohs star Campbell Graham had been preparing to represent Scotland at the World Cup before a phone call from Australia coach Mal Meninga. (NRL)

Sydney-born Graham qualifies to play for Scotland through his Glasgow-born father and England through his Coventry-born mother. He had been in conversations with Scotland over representing his heritage for more than a year before he was selected to represent Australia, the country of his birth.

Graham told NRL.com: “They (Scotland) were all understanding. I didn’t even have to contact them, they saw the news and congratulated me, so it is all good. Hopefully that opportunity to represent them will come later in my career. It will be a huge honour for myself.”

Young at heart

Dom Young (England) and Alex Young (Jamaica) will write an exclusive piece of rugby league history as brothers representing two separate nations at this autumn’s World Cup. (The Guardian)

Alex, who spent 2022 playing part-time in the Championship for Workington, will honour his grandmother’s heritage by representing Jamaica in their first World Cup. Dom, who has taken the NRL by storm, will play for England, where he and Alex were born and raised.


England and St Helens winger Tommy Makinson turns 31 today (October 10).

Also celebrating; former Great Britain and Warrington prop Paul Wood (41), new Dolphins recruit Brenko Lee (27) and Newcastle Thunder half-back Connor Bailey (22).


There will be two nations making their debuts at a Rugby League World Cup this autumn – Jamaica and Greece.

More World Cup content

Josh Mansour “privileged” to represent Lebanese heritage as NRL superstar labels the Cedars ones to watch

Brian McDermott on his role with Fiji and “very good” England

Ed Chamberlain bullish about Ireland’s World Cup prospects

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