Rumour Mill: St Helens boss coy on starlet’s exit; Leeds in talks with former Queensland centre; NRL champs come calling for Hull KR star

Josh McAllister

This week’s Rumour Mill includes the latest on a former Queensland centre’s move to Super League, St Helens player exit expected and Brad Schneider’s next move. 

Brenko Lee in talks with Leeds & Catalans

NRL centre Brenko Lee is heading to Super League for 2024, with the player’s agent confirming discussions with both Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons.

The 27-year-old former Queensland representative has been released early from his contract with the Dolphins to continue his career on the other side of the globe, having had 12 months remaining on his deal.

He won the 2020 Premiership with Melbourne Storm and has made 88 NRL appearances, scoring 25 tries.

The journeyman could fill a potential void at Leeds Rhinos that could be left by Nene Macdonald, with the Papua New Guinea star’s Leeds future unclear.

Lee’s agent Chris Orr of Pacific Sports Management told News Corp: “We’re currently talking to a number of clubs, including Catalans and Leeds, there’s a bit of interest.

“Brenko helped Wayne and the Dolphins kickstart their NRL campaign, but he now wants a different challenge in the Super League.”

Curtis Sironen’s brother becomes free agent

Bayley Sironen, brother of St Helens star Curtis, will enter the player market as a free agent for the 2024 campaign after New Zealand Warriors confirmed his departure at the end of the season, via Fox Sports.

The back-rower featured 22 times this year under Andrew Webster, with a career tally 78 appearances in the competition Down Under.

Sironen, 26, has previously been tipped with a Super League move to continue his career by reporter David Long writing for Stuff in New Zealand.

NRL champs come calling for Hull KR star

Penrith Panthers are poised to sign Hull KR star Brad Schneider for the 2024 campaign, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The back-to-back champions, who claimed this year’s Minor Premiership, are set to lose back up half-back Jack Cogger to Newcastle Knights, with Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai the club’s current starting halves.

Schneider, 22, looks to return to Australia following his short stint in England and looks set to become Ivan Cleary’s third choice half.

The former Canberra Raiders man won July’s Super League player of the month award, and helped the Robins reach Wembley Stadium in the Challenge Cup final, losing out to Leigh.

St Helens boss coy on player exit

St Helens boss Paul Wellens declined to comment on the reported exit of Wesley Bruines, who is set to join Warrington Wolves according to Examiner Live.

The move will see 20-year-old centre Bruines reunite with Sam Burgess, having lived with the NRL and England legend during his time Down Under playing for South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Jersey Flegg team.

When asked if he could comment about the reports, Wellens told Love Rugby League: “At this moment in time, no.

“Wes is a great kid, an honest kid, and we’ve had a couple of conversations but I can’t really say too much there, I don’t want to breach Wes’ trust.”

Blake Austin opens up on future

Off-contract Blake Austin says he has no plans to leave the UK with a few potential deals ‘in the pipeline’ following his Leeds exit.

The 32-year-old left Headingley Stadium under a cloud in early August to join Castleford Tigers on loan in their fight for Super League survival.

Asked about his future, Australian Austin said: “I’m not planning on packing up. There’s a few things in the pipeline, and hopefully I can iron things out. We’re pretty settled here, we’ll look at that in the next few weeks for sure.

“I said when I came over that I was always planning on finishing my career here, so I’ll sort something out. A new challenge like this has allowed it (the stress) to be alleviated, taking things week by week again rather than me looking too far into the future.”

Sam Burgess coaching exemption explained

The Rugby Football League have confirmed Sam Burgess has been granted a dispensation to start work at Warrington Wolves without the required coaching qualifications: but only because he has been unable to undertake the course in Australia that would see him qualify.

Reports in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday revealed that Burgess had been given an exemption by the governing body to take the Warrington job despite essentially being under-qualified.

He would need a Level 3 coaching qualification with the RFL to become a Super League head coach, something he does not currently posses.

But Love Rugby League has been told the reasoning behind that. The equivalent course in Australia has not run since the Covid-19 pandemic and still hasn’t restarted, meaning Burgess and other coaches seeking a move to England have not been able to get up to the required qualification level before joining Super League.

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