Rumour Mill: Leeds Rhinos target NRL half-back; Huddersfield exit all but confirmed; Ken Sio’s Salford future

Josh McAllister
Rumour Mill including Leeds, Huddersfield and Salford

This week’s Rumour Mill includes Leeds’ latest hunt for a new half-back, Ken Sio’s future and one Huddersfield exit all but confirmed.

Ken Sio secures future

Ken Sio looks set to re-sign with Salford Red Devils beyond 2023 with his current contract entering its final few months.

The winger was named in last year’s Super League Dream Team alongside team-mate Tim Lafai, with the duo then late call-ups to Samoa’s World Cup squad as replacements during the delayed 2021 campaign.

Sio, 32, signed a two-year extension in September 2021, with that contract set to run out at the end of the year. However, head coach Paul Rowley confirmed to Love Rugby League that the former Hull KR man will remain at the Salford Stadium into 2024.

NRL players heading to open market

A handful of NRL players are reportedly heading to the open market and could be made available to Super League clubs for 2024.

With 62 NRL appearances, Canterbury Bulldogs centre and former South Sydney Rabbitohs man Braidon Burns could be making the switch next season.

The Daily Mail reports that the 27-year-old could be keen to pursue his career on the other side of the globe, with his agent exploring opportunities.

Meanwhile, Manly Sea Eagles half-back Cooper Johns, son of Matthew Johns, looks set to leave the club due to the salary cap and has been reportedly offered to Super League sides.


Former Leigh star Drew Hutchison has also attracted interest with an exit from the Sydney Roosters looming. NRL reporter Danny Weidler says the Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons have emerged as potential landing destinations for the 28-year-old utility.

Huddersfield exit all but confirmed

At least one overseas player will have to leave Huddersfield following the signing of Australian Jack Murchie on a three-year deal.

Fellow back-rower and 2022 Lance Todd Trophy winner Chris McQueen remains off-contract, with all six other current quota spot players contracted through until at least 2024.

McQueen, who turned 36 earlier this month, has been Mr Consistent for the Giants since his arrival but this season could end a four-year stint at the John Smith’s Stadium – or even his career.

Head coach Ian Watson has previously stated that he will let the former Queensland representative announce his future decision when he’s ready to do so.

Leeds’ half-back hunt continues

Leeds Rhinos have identified Canberra Raiders half-back Matt Frawley as their next recruitment target from the NRL, according to Examiner Live.

Frawley, 28, previously spent one season in Super League with Huddersfield back in 2020 with 22 appearances.

Having started his career with Canterbury Bulldogs with two seasons, the Australian playmaker has featured 52 times in the NRL, scoring 10 tries.

The Rhinos have quota spots available, with both Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer heading for an exit. Newcastle Knights full-back Lachlan Miller will join on a three-year deal from 2024.

Frawley was also mentioned as a potential target by Love Rugby League earlier this month, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the year.

Jack Walker Hull KR exit confirmed

Jack Walker will become a free agent at the end of the current season after Hull KR boss Willie Peters confirmed the full-back’s exit following the expiry of his contract.

Walker, 24, fell down the pecking order at his boyhood club Leeds and joined Championship outfit Bradford Bulls ahead of 2023 on a 12-month contract.

The former England Knights representative made a quick return to the top flight, signing with the Robins in June on a deal until the end of the season.

He will become a free agent upon the completion of the 2023 campaign, with some Leeds Rhinos supporters calling for the club to re-sign one of their homegrown talents for 2024 as a back-up player.

King Vuniyayawa reveals NRL ambitions

Salford Red Devils forward King Vuniyayawa has admitted to Love Rugby League that he would like a second shot in the NRL before his playing career ends.

A late bloomer to the professional game, the Fiji international made his debut with New Zealand Warriors in 2020 and made a further four appearances before making the switch to Super League, initially with Leeds Rhinos.

The current Red Devils prop is enjoying some of his finest form to date, having missed just one game all year.

“I would love to go back and have a dig in the NRL. We’ll see what happens,” Vuniyayawa told Love Rugby League.

“I’ve played about five games, but that would be good.

“I’m open to all kind of discussions and we’ll see what the future holds for me.

“I just want to have a good hit out and say to myself in a few years that I had a dig and put in some performances [in the NRL].”

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