Super League clubs on red alert after England star George Williams leaves Canberra Raiders
England half-back George Williams has been released by Canberra Raiders with immediate effect, sparking a scramble by Betfred Super League clubs to sign him.
Williams played for Wigan Warriors from 2013 to 2019 before moving to the NRL.
His move Down Under turned sour when homesickness set in this year and Raiders today announced a parting of the ways, claiming Williams said he would not be attending training or available to play this weekend.
Raiders paid Wigan a six-figure transfer fee for Williams and will be among the favourites to re-sign him, particularly with current star half-back Jackson Hastings heading back to the NRL at the end of this season.
It is also unclear if another play-maker, Thomas Leuluai, will play on next year, but Wigan may not have room to sign Williams this term - and he will be keen to keep active ahead of the World Cup.
Recent developments mean Leeds Rhinos will inevitably be linked with Williams, though they would seem to be a long-shot, behind Wigan and Warrington Wolves.
Leeds have a vacancy in the halves after Kyle Eastmond announced his retirement last week, having played just two games for the club.
Stand-off Rob Lui, who is currently on the casualty list, will leave Rhinos at the end of this year and another specialist half-back Callum McLelland, is in the final season of his contract and no decision has yet been announced on his future.
A statement from Canberra Raiders said: “Williams and his management asked for a release on compassionate grounds for the end of the 2021 season, however the club has 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.”
Raiders 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.
“George withdrew from training today and from the game this weekend which highlighted to the club the seriousness of George’s request.
“Over the past several weeks we have supported George and provided him with the best welfare support we could, however as a club we felt that his position at the club moving forward became untenable.”
In a message on Twitter, Williams insisted he had not asked for an immediate release.
He said: "Not once did I ask for a 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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