The Yorkshire Evening Post understands Betfred Super League rivals Hull are close to signing the 2017 Man of Steel, who still has a year left on his Rhinos contract.
Though a deal has not yet been done, speculation has surrounded Gale’s future since he was stripped of the captaincy following a disagreement with coach Richard Agar four months ago.
That intensified today (Friday) when Salford Red Devils confirmed the signing of scrum-half Marc Sneyd from Hull on a three-year deal.
Hull say an announcement regarding a new half-back will be made “in the near future”.
Their coach Brett Hodgson said of Sneyd’s exit: “We’re excited about the opportunity it presents the club as we continue to reshape our squad for the 2022 season.”
A potential move is believed to be at Gale’s request and Leeds are likely to ask for compensation from Hull.
Two of last season’s pivots - Rob Lui and Callum McLelland - have already moved on, with Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, who was set to provide cover across a variety of roles, joining the club.
Gale joined Rhinos from Castleford Tigers for an undisclosed fee two years ago, having begun his career in Leeds’ academy.
He was appointed captain when Stevie Ward suffered concussion in the opening round of the 2020 Super League campaign and led them to Challenge Cup glory that year, kicking the winning drop goal against Salford Red Devils at Wembley.
But Gale, who was England’s half-back in the 2017 World Cup final, made only 11 appearances this year.
He suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the first day of pre-season, broke a thumb in his second game and also served two suspensions before a knee injury in August ended his season.
Gale, 33, was stripped of the captaincy and dropped for a match after leaving training without permission in July.
His exit would leave Rhinos with only two specialist halves on their books, but Kruise Leeming filled in effectively last season and Leeds have cover in his hooking role following youngster Corey Johnson’s return to the club.
Richie Myler, who was England’s scrum-half three years ago, is another option, particularly if full-back Jack Walker makes a successful recovery from the foot injury which kept him out of the entire 2021 season.
Gale’s exit would also potentially free up money for an additional signing to strengthen Rhinos in the middle-forwards.
Clearly, Hull are in need of a specialist half-back following Sneyd’s surprise return to his first club.
Salford announced they had signed the 2016 and 2017 Lance Todd Trophy winner - who has also played for Castleford Tigers - at a press conference yesterday, when they also confirmed Paul Rowley as their new coach on a two-year contract. Kurt Haggerty, who was caretaker-boss at Leigh Centurions this year, has moved to Salford as one of Rowley’s assistants. Former Castleford Tigers player and assistant-coach Danny Orr remains on the backroom staff.
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