Leeds Rhinos rumour round-up - looking at who might be on their way in or out of Headingley this autumn
Players whose contract expires this autumn are now free to talk to other clubs, which makes it peak season for rugby league rumours.
As usual, Leeds Rhinos are being linked with a host of players, both at home and abroad, while speculation mounts over the future of some of their own stars, both on and off the field.
Here’s a round up of some of the current Rhinos rumours and an assessment of whether they hold water.
Blake Austin from Warrington to Rhinos.
Leeds need a stand-off and Austin is off-contract at the end of this season.
Warrington are leading the race to sign George Williams after his exit from Canberra Raiders and therefore, to bring him in this year, need to create space on their salary cap, which releasing Austin would do.
Austin is a big earner and would have to take a wage cut, but if Warrington paid him off, Leeds would probably be interested.
Likelihood: Possible, but depends on factors out of Rhinos’ control.
George Williams to Rhinos.
Rhinos have also been linked with Williams, either for the rest of this season or beyond.
Likelihood: Not going to happen, he’s heading for Warrington.
Matt Prior and Rhyse Martin from Leeds to Australia.
Both are in the last year of their deal and nothing has yet been confirmed. They are happy at Leeds and Prior, who has been offered the option of another season, is in outstanding form. But the pandemic has been tough on overseas players, Prior considered not returning last winter and Martin may be tempted home for personal reasons.
Likelihood: Both have a big decision to make and it could go either way.
Kevin Sinfield to Leicester Tigers.
The Rhinos director of rugby is being strongly linked with a cross-code move to the 15-side giants.
Leicester's interest shows the job he is doing at Rhinos has been noticed and appreciated, but - while his love for the club is beyond question - the pandemic has made his role, particularly in recruitment, harder and there are more opportunities in union.
Likelihood: Sinfield won't comment on speculation, but union publication the Rugby Paper claims Mike Ford has been released to make way for him, which - if true - suggests a deal is on the cards.
Alex Sutcliffe from Leeds to Castleford Tigers.
The reigning Evening Post Shooting Star has rejected Leeds’ offer of a new deal and is set to sign for a rival side, believed to be Castleford. He can play centre and second-row, two positions where Tigers have a vacancy after Peter Mata’utia and Oliver Holmes confirmed they are moving on.
Likelihood: Nailed on.
Jake Trueman from Castleford to Leeds.
Rhinos rate the stand-off, who they missed as a youngster a few years ago, but aren’t prepared to stump up a big transfer fee and anyway, Tigers are not willing to let him go before his contract ends next year.
Likelihood: Possible at some stage, but not for 2022.
James Bentley from St Helens to Leeds.
Leed-born Bentley has been linked with Rhinos and his latest confirmed contract is due to expire in November.
Likelihood: The RFL has issued a list of all players who are out of contract this year and Bentley is not on it, which suggests he has re-signed with Saints.
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