This week’s Rumour Mill includes the latest development on veteran Mitchell Pearce, Castleford’s next head coach and which NRL playmaker has opted for Huddersfield over Leeds and Hull.
Mitchell Pearce to enter open market
Mitchell Pearce looks set to enter the open market amid reports that the veteran half-back will leave Catalans Dragons at the end of the season.
French publication L’Independant has reported that the 34-year-old will depart the Perpignan-based side at the end of the current season after two years with the Super League club.
Pearce previously shut down rumours of a mid-season move to Wests Tigers, but has since been linked with a return to former club Sydney Roosters for 2024.
However, no move has been confirmed as he looks set to enter the open market for possibly one more season.
He has scored 12 tries in 33 appearances for Catalans.
Castleford’s next head coach
There are strong rumours that Danny Ward is set to be appointed Castleford’s next head coach for the remainder of the Super League season.
Broadcaster ‘The Game Caller’ and Examiner Live’s Matt Shaw have both reported that Ward is set to be appointed the club’s next permanent head coach following the sacking of Andy Last.
Having been appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal following an interim period in April, Last departed the Mend-A-Hose Jungle following the latest 28-0 defeat to Huddersfield in Super League.
Ward, 43, enjoyed a successful stint with London Broncos which saw the side win promotion to Super League in his first season in charge.
The Broncos defeated then-favourites Toronto Wolfpack 4-2 to earn a place in the top flight for the 2019 campaign.
Ward departed the club midway through the 2021 season, and has since been coaching at rugby union side Rosslyn Park.
Leeds and Hull lose out on reported NRL target
Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos have lost out on reported NRL target Adam Clune, who is set to join Huddersfield Giants according to Rugby League Live.
The 28-year-old half-back is set to make the move from Australia, currently contracted with Newcastle Knights.
However, he is yet to make an appearance in the NRL this season, having joined the club from St George Illawarra Dragons.
He has made 43 appearances in the competition Down Under between 2020 and 2022.
The Giants look set to lose Theo Fages to Catalans Dragons at the end of the year but have quickly moved to secure his replacement in Australian half-back Clune.
Tony Smith sets sights on another NRL forward
After reportedly landing Canterbury Bulldogs prop Franklin Pele, via Hull Daily Mail, Hull FC have turned their attention to another forward from Down Under.
Wests Tigers forward Shawn Blore has received interest from the Black & Whites for 2024, as originally reported by Hull Daily Mail.
Fox Sports has since added to the reports, with Hull actively searching to fill their vacant quota spots.
Blore, 23, is contracted to the Tigers until the end of 2024 but has struggled to find a consistent role at the NRL’s struggling side.
Since his debut in 2020, has has featured 29 times for the Tigers.
Leigh Leopards to Papua New Guinea
Leigh Leopards are in talks to stage a game in Papua New Guinea according to head coach Adrian Lam.
52-year-old Lam himself hails from the country, with current PNG international stars Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape currently featuring for the Super League outfit.
Lam told Love Rugby League that talks have already begun about a possible trip: and it could happen sooner, rather than later.
“I can sense a link growing,” Lam said. “I’m told a lot of our interactions on social media are driven from PNG and the surrounding areas too. It’s massive.
“I’ve talked to Derek about it and it’s something we as a club would like to explore further… So watch this space.
“Whether it could potentially happen this year coming or the year after, it’ll certainly happen, it’s just a case of when now, I think.”
Hetherington’s signings vow
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has stressed that the club is actively searching into the player market to bolster their squad for 2024.
Blake Austin has played his final game for the club after opting to join Castleford Tigers on loan for the remainder of the season. His current contract at Headingley Stadium expires at the end of the year.
Sam Walters will join Wigan Warriors next season on a three-year deal, while Liam Tindall and Aidan Sezer are both also set exits.
Zane Tetevano, James Bentley, James Donaldson and David Fusitu’a are all also off contract at the end of the current campaign.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Hetherington said: “We are actively looking for other players who might be available and on the market, both here and abroad, for next season.”