Barba’s ‘homesick’ family may prompt Saints exit
Speculation continues to be rife around the future of St Helens superstar Ben Barba.
Continuously linked with a move away from the Totally Wicked Stadium – namely for an NRL return – those whispers have intensified on an almost weekly basis.
Barba is under contract at Saints for next year but NRL.com report that his partner, Ainslie Currie, is believed to be struggling with homesickness living abroad with their four young daughters.
The report states a release on compassionate grounds is being considered, which could pave the way for Barba’s return to Cronulla Sharks in 2019.
Huge injury blow for Red Devils
Salford, who have already used five different full-backs this season, will need to make another change after Jack Littlejohn was ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a ruptured bicep.
Littlejohn, who scored two tries before sustaining the injury in the Red Devils’ 30-14 defeat at Warrington last Friday, has been told he needs to undergo surgery.
The former Wests Tigers half-back, who is in the first year of a two-year contract, switched positions following the loss of Niall Evalds with a broken leg.
Gareth O’Brien began the season in the number one jersey and Salford have also used Rob Lui and Derrell Olpherts at full-back this year.
The Red Devils also say centre Kris Welham has undergone surgery on a finger injury sustained in the game at Warrington.
Salford travel to Hull KR this Sunday in a crunch Super League encounter.
Wane can’t be tempted by Rhinos job
Wigan boss Shaun Wane insists there is no turning back on his move to rugby union, ruling him out of the running for the Leeds vacancy.
The Rhinos have an immediate vacancy following the sudden departure of Brian McDermott in the wake of the reigning Super League champions’ 46-8 defeat to Wigan last Thursday but Wane says he remains committed to the Scottish Rugby Union.
“I know where I’m going,” said Wane, who will take up the role of high performance coach with the SRU when his commitments with the Warriors finish at the end of the season.
“I know what I’m doing, my mind is set. I’m just obsessed with this job at the minute and whenever it finishes then I’ll move on to my next job.
“Nobody has ever phoned me about anything else.”
Wane, who had a brief spell as a player with Leeds towards the end of his career, admits the departure of McDermott has opened up a tempting vacancy in Super League but says his career is set on a change of course.
“Leeds is a big club,” he said.
“I did fancy a change of sport. A few things have disappointed me in our sport.
“I love the game – it’s one of the best games in the world – but there are a few things that disappoint me so I wanted a change.”
Gelling signs for Vikings
Bottom-of-the-table Widnes have signed former Wigan centre Anthony Gelling on a two-year contract from New Zealand Warriors.
The 27-year-old Gelling, who was a Grand Final and World Club Challenge winner in his six seasons in Super League with Wigan, will link up with the Vikings for the start of the 2019 season.
Gelling, a Cook Island international, was released by Wigan at the end of last season for personal reasons and subsequently signed a 12-month deal with the Warriors.
It is a bold move by Widnes, who sacked coach Denis Betts in June, as they sit bottom of the table and must battle their way through the Super 8s Qualifiers to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Gelling scored 52 tries in 115 appearances for Wigan from 2012-17 and was a tryscorer for New Zealand Warriors against Cronulla at the weekend.
“I’m delighted to be joining Widnes Vikings,” he said. “Looking at the talent at the club, their players who have re-signed and the young lads who are coming through, I believe that the Vikings have real potential for the seasons ahead.
“Before signing this deal, I spoke in length to James Rule. He shared the club’s vision for the coming seasons and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be part of this.
“Widnes Vikings have had a tough season this year but I know that we can turn this around. I am looking forward to linking up with the boys next year in 2019 and to making a difference to the side.”
ICYMI – Manu signs on at Hull
Sika Manu has revealed the reason for staying at Hull FC is because he didn’t want to miss out on the success he expects the club to have in the next two seasons.
Manu, 31, has signed a new one-year extension which will keep him at the KCOM Stadium until the end of the 2019 campaign.
The former New Zealand international star and now Tonga captain has enjoyed a decorated career which has included World Cup and Four Nations success, while he’s picked up two Challenge Cup medals with the Black and Whites.
A Grand Final ring remains elusive and Manu insists despite NRL interest back home, staying put in Hull was the best decision in the end.
“It wasn’t until about a month ago that we decided as a family we would like to stay,” Manu told the Mail.
“For a long time me and my partner we’re looking to go home. We were missing family and stuff like that. About a month ago I started talking with the club and decided it would be good for us to stay.