Comment - Is England star George Williams the answer to Leeds Rhinos' half-back problems after release by Canberra Raiders?

A fortnight ago, Rob Lui announced he will leave Leeds Rhinos at the end of this season.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:28 pm

A week later, Kyle Eastmond dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement.

Eight days after that, Canberra Raiders said England half-back George Williams has been released from his contract with immediate effect.

Have the stars aligned to bring one of rugby league’s best half-backs to Emerald Headingley?

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Rhinos need to replace Rob Lui who will return to Australia at the end of this season. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

It’s a nice thought for Rhinos fans, particularly with their team currently Betfred Super League’s lowest scorers, averaging only 11 points per game.

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At the moment, Luke Gale is the only specialist play-maker contracted to Leeds for next year and they are looking to bring in an experienced replacement for Lui and Eastmond.

In the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, mine owner Percy Garris hires the two outlaws as payroll guards because, he tells them, “I’m desperate and you are just what I’m looking for”.

George Williams training with Great Britain in 2019. PIcture by Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com.

It doesn’t end well for either Percy or the eponymous heroes, but Rhinos clearly need a specialist in the position to operate alongside Gale and Williams would be the perfect fit.

Rhinos’ hat will be thrown in the ring - and so it should be - but realistically, they are a long-shot.

With Williams having set his heart on a return to Super League next season, it may well be he has already decided to join Warrington Wolves, or possibly his former side Wigan Warriors, allowing him to live close to friends and family without having to commute across the Pennines.

He might be an option on a short-term deal for this year only, but then Rhinos would still need someone for 2022 onwards.

If Williams does sign for Warrington, though, that will probably end their interest in Castleford Tigers’ Jake Trueman, who is out of contract at the end of 2022.

Castleford are keen to keep him and Wigan are also being linked with Trueman, but he may be a more likely target for Rhinos in the long term.

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