Leeds Rhinos captain Trent Merrin set for possible NRL return - updated
Leeds Rhinos have allowed captain Trent Merrin to speak to Australian clubs about returning to the NRL and are monitoring possible replacements.
Merrin joined Rhinos from Penrith Panthers at the end of the 2018 season and took over as captain from Kallum Watkins in May.
He is happy at Leeds, but a family situation could prompt his return home.
The former Test forward was granted compassionate leave midway through the season following a family tragedy.
Rhinos coach Richard Agar is understood to have spoken to Merrin on a recent trip to Australia.
Leeds don't want to lose Merrin, but are sympathetic to his situation and will not stand in his way if he can find a club Down Under.
No deal has yet been done and there is still a chance Merrin could be at Leeds next season.
If he does leave, that would open a space on Rhinos' overseas quota and also their salary cap.
Rhinos are understood to have put a time limit on Merrin's decision and want the situation resolved before the start of pre-season.
If Merrin remains in Australia - which would mean taking a cut in pay - one possible target is Cronulla Sharks forward Matt Prior, a two-time NRL Grand Final winner.