The rumour mill is in full flow this week.
Vaccinations for scrums
Scrums are set to return to British rugby league next season – as long as enough players are vaccinated. After almost two seasons without scrums due to COVID, it is believed that they are due to return for the start of the 2022 season, if a target of 85% players receiving both their jabs is reached. Scrums have remained in place in the NRL and are likely to be in place for the World Cup next autumn.
Konrad Hurrell’s move to St Helens has received a lukewarm reception, but the champions believe they’ve got a bargain in the Tonga international. A marquee man at Headingley, he has taken a huge pay cut in moving to the Totally Wicked Stadium on a two-year deal – maybe even on less than what the Rhinos offered him to stay.
No cup for Toulouse?
Question marks over whether Toulouse will participate in the Challenge Cup in 2022 is already causing headaches over the format. In recent years, the bottom four Super League teams have joined 12 others before the remaining eight top flight teams join for the last 16 the following round.
Toulouse haven’t participated in the competition since 2017 when they lost at home to Batley, and despite their promotion to Super League, they are unlikely to participate in 2022.
As non-RFL members, the French sides are simply invited to play in the competition – it is not mandatory, and in previous years Toulouse have seen it as a cost-saving exercise.
It also causes a headache over the format of the 1895 Cup, which last season had the final four Championship/League 1 clubs left in the Challenge Cup automatically qualify for the semi-finals of that competition.
Wigan new half-back?
The big transfer rumour doing the rounds on social media at the moment is Danny Richardson to Wigan. The 25-year-old has made 16 appearances for the Tigers this season. Wigan’s half-back options for year are Tommy Leuluai, Jai Field and Harry Smith with former Man of Steel Jackson Hastings returning to the NRL with Wests Tigers. Could we see former Saints man Richardson at Wigan in 2022?
From Saints to Championship
Hooker Josh Eaves is on his way to Newcastle, having been released by St Helens. The move to Thunder was inadvertently revealed by Tommy Makinson on social media.
The 23-year-old played on loan for both Leigh and Wakefield in 2021, and found himself behind James Roby, Aaron Smith and new signing Joey Lussick in the pecking order at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Paul Rowley looks to have had the nod to become the new head coach at Salford. The former Toronto and Leigh chief has been with the Red Devils since 2019 and at the start of 2021, took up a new role Head of Rugby Development, Talent and Pathways. But following the departure of Richard Marshall, Rowley’s appointment as head coach looks imminent.
Full-time lure of the north east
Another Super League player possibly on his way to the newly full-time north east side is Wigan prop Mitch Clark. His release has been confirmed and several Championship clubs are believed to be interested. (Manchester Evening News)