The five Super League players from 2023 still off-contract as New Year approaches, including Leeds Rhinos transfer target

Ben Olawumi
Lee Kershaw, Luis Johnson

Lee Kershaw (Left) & Luis Johnson (Right) remain off-contract - Alamy

With pre-season training now underway for most, and the New Year fast approaching, there are still five free agents knocking about from Super League in 2023.

These players have either been released by the club they played for in the season just gone and remain unattached, or are still to have their future confirmed with that same club as an off-contract ace.

Below, we’ve taken a look at all five, in alphabetical order by surname…

Daniel Hill

21-year-old Hill joined St Helens from Widnes Vikings ahead of the 2022 campaign on a two-year deal.

In his first season at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the young gun made two senior appearances, with both coming against Castleford Tigers.

Saints chief Paul Wellens however didn’t feel the need to call upon him in the season just gone though, with the closest Hill came to a first-team run-out being named as the 18th man against Warrington Wolves back in April.

Limited to a handful of loan appearances between League 1 outfit North Wales Crusaders & Championship side Swinton Lions, he was one of 11 to depart the Red V at the end of the campaign with his contract expiring, and no move has been announced since.

Luis Johnson

Johnson’s exit from Hull KR came as no surprise given that he was never truly a part of Willie Peters’ plans at Craven Park.

The forward had an injury-hampered 2022, and having got himself back fit, featured just five times in total this season for the Robins, featuring as their unused 18th man on six other occasions.

He also lined up three times for Castleford as a loanee, one of 22 players in total to have pulled on a shirt for more than one Super League club in 2023.

Since his KR exit, the only news on Johnson’s future came via Examiner Live‘s report that he was training with Castleford a few weeks ago, though no signing announcement has been made by the Tigers yet, or any other club for that matter.

Lee Kershaw

Of the five on this list, winger Kershaw has been – without a doubt – the most hotly talked about on the back of Wakefield’s relegation. Though Trinity didn’t confirm his departure, the player himself has openly detailed his desire to remain in Super League for 2024.

Pictures have emerged of the 24-year-old training with Leeds Rhinos in pre-season, though nothing has been made concrete just yet, with Love Rugby League also exclusively revealing interest from newly-promoted London Broncos.

Kershaw grabbed seven tries in a struggling side at Belle Vue this year, including a brace away against Leigh in the game which ultimately saw their relegation confirmed following a defeat in golden point extra time.

Aside from Trinity, Kershaw’s only other club to this point in his career were Oldham, enjoying three separate loan stints with the Roughyeds.

Ilikaya Mafi

Youngster Mafi was amongst the first departures confirmed by Castleford, with his exit – alongside that of four others – announced in mid-September.

Originally favouring rugby union, the loose forward was picked up by the Tigers from Hull FC back in December, with the club holding an option in their favour to extend his contract for the 2024 season.

Evidently, they didn’t wish to do so, with the 20-year-old leaving the Jungle without ever making a senior competitive appearance. When he signed for Cas, he opted to take up a university course in sports coaching offered in partnership with the club’s foundation.

No contract news has come on Mafi yet, with the possibility of a new venture into the coaching side of the game still on the cards.

Dane Windrow

Rounding the off-contract aces off is another youngster in Windrow, who debuted for Wakefield in their Challenge Cup defeat to eventual winners Leigh back in May, also named as an unused 18th man twice by Trinity this term.

Prior to this season, the 21-year-old had previously featured as a loanee in both the Championship and League 1 with Dewsbury Rams & Oldham.

He went on to feature for both Swinton & Newcastle Thunder this term, scoring a try for Thunder against Sheffield Eagles.

Like Kershaw, Wakefield have never actually confirmed his departure, but given that the Belle Vue outfit have announced the retention of other promising starlets, you’d imagine his time there is over. We now await to see where Windrow’s next destination will be.

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