Leeds Rhinos keeping 'close eye' on George Williams situation after NRL club Canberra Raiders say England half-back has been released

Leeds Rhinos are keeping a "close eye" on England half-back George Williams’ potential return to Betfred Super League.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:28 pm

Canberra Raiders say Williams has been released from his contract with immediate effect, though the player insists he has not yet agreed to that.

Rhinos have a vacancy for a half-back after Kyle Eastmond announced his retirement last week.

Stand-off Rob Lui, who is currently injured, will leave the club when his deal expires in November and another specialist play-maker, Callum McLelland, is also out of contract this year, with no decision yet announced on his future.

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George Williams scores for Wigan against Salford in 2019. Picture by Oskar Vierod/SWpix.com.

Williams, 26, had asked for a release from his Canberra contract at the end of this season and is believed to be heading for Warrington Wolves, though his former and hometown club Wigan Warriors are also being strongly linked.

Neither club has an obvious vacancy for a half-back at this stage and Williams will be keen to keep active ahead of the World Cup which begins in October, so might be open to a short-term move before taking up a longer contract elsewhere in Super League next term.

That could potentially interest Leeds, though clearly their preference would be for a player they can develop a team around for the next few years.

Asked if Rhinos are monitoring the situation, director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said: “He is a world-class player, he’s British and we are watching it unfold.

Kyle Eastmond left Rhinos last week. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

"We’re keeping a close eye on it, we are always interested in world-class players.”

A Raiders club statement said they had “decided it is in the best interests of both parties to grant an immediate release to allow both parties to plan for their respective futures”.

Chief executive Don Furner was quoted as saying: “George and his partner have asked on a number of occasions for a release to return to England to be closer to their families and we’ve decided to grant their request."

But in Tweet, Williams insisted: “Not once did I ask for an immediate release but instead of supporting me the club kicked me out the door. Plus I’ve not even signed the release.”

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