This week’s Rumour Mill including the latest on Luke Thompson, recruitment at Leeds Rhinos and St Helens’ links with a Wakefield forward.
Wigan Warriors to land target Luke Thompson
Luke Thompson’s speculated move to Wigan Warriors has resurfaced, with fresh reports that the England international is close to securing a long-term contract at the DW Stadium.
The sought-after forward has previously been linked with Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra Dragons, while it was believed he was also keen to join Sydney Roosters on a dropped salary in a move that would see him reunite with Justin Holbrook.
Originally shared by ‘The Mole’, The Daily Telegraph now reports that Wigan’s offer of a four-year deal has been too good to turn down for the 28-year-old, ending his stint in the NRL which has been hampered by injuries.
Thompson has only managed 42 games across his four years at Canterbury Bulldogs following his move from St Helens.
Hull FC find Jake Clifford replacement
According to renowned Australian journalist ‘The Mole’ Hull are set to secure their Jake Clifford replacement in the shape of Manly Sea Eagles half-back Cooper Johns.
The 24-year-old looks set to be pushed out of the NRL outfit due to a tight salary cap, including big money for stars Tom and Jake Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans, Haumole Olakau’atu and Josh Schuster.
League Express had previously reported that Johns, son of rugby league great Matthew and nephew to fellow legend Andrew, had been offered to Super League clubs for next year with the MKM Stadium looking the likely destination.
Johns made his NRL debut with Melbourne Storm in 2020, going on to feature 11 times under Craig Bellamy before joining Manly on an initial train-and-trial contract for 2023.
Leeds Rhinos to sign Sydney Roosters centre
According to reports on both sides of the globe, Leeds Rhinos look set to land Sydney Roosters centre Paul Momirovski.
The 27-year-old only played three times in 2023, including the finals defeat to Melbourne Storm. He has made a career total 60 appearances in the NRL, having made his debut in 2018 with the Roosters before returning in 2022.
The one-time Australian Prime Minister’s XIII representative has also featured for Wests Tigers, Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers. He played in the 2021 NRL Grand Final at centre with the latter in the 14-12 win over South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Meanwhile, Rohan Smith’s side have also been linked with Castleford youngster Kieran Hudson, via Examiner Live.
Hull KR step up interest for Jai Whitbread
Love Rugby League understands that Hull KR have stepped up their pursuit of Wakefield Trinity star Jai Whitbread for the 2024 Super League campaign.
Whitbread, 25, remains under contract at Belle Vue despite Trinity’s relegation to the Championship. Wakefield have decided against utilising the clause in his contract that would see him leave the club at the end of the season and become a free agent, and that decision now looks set to reap a reward.
At present, Hull KR have all seven of their quota spots filled – meaning that if Australian-born Whitbread joined, someone would need to leave.
Wakefield Trinity rebuild, including Peter Mata’utia
Peter Mata’utia looks set to continue his career in the Championship with recently relegated Wakefield Trinity upon Daryl Powell’s expected arrival as head coach on a four-year deal.
Examiner Live reports that the Warrington centre will be a part of the squad rebuild at Belle Vue alongside off-contract Wigan man Iain Thornley.
Wakefield confirmed their imminent club takeover, with incoming new owner Matt Ellis revealing his plans to hire ex-Warrington and Castleford boss Powell ahead of 2024.
It would be the third club the 58-year-old coach and Mata’utia have worked together.
St Helens linked with Wakefield forward
St Helens have been linked with Wakefield youngster Sam Eseh following their relegation from Super League.
Broadcaster ‘The Game Caller’ has reported that the reigning champions are interested in the 20-year-old prop forward.
A highly-rated prospect, Eseh has previously featured for Barrow and Featherstone on loan in the Championship, alongside 15 appearances for Wakefield.
The dismantling of Wakefield Trinity has already started with St Helens cashing in on youngster Sam Eseh for 2024. A great signing for Paul Wellens and St Helens. More players are expected to leave the Wakefield club for new destinations in the coming days.
— The Game Caller 🗣🎙📻 (@TheGameCaller) September 20, 2023