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Hello and welcome to Monday's rugby league live news blog. The countdown to the start of the new Super League season is on as clubs are well-underway with pre-season training. Some are further ahead than others with Hull KR flying out to Tenerife for a ten-day camp.
There is still some player movement to come with Catalans puting Dylan Napa up for sale whilst transfers continue to take place with Wakefield signing Semisoni Langi and Blake Ferguson leaving Leigh to return to Australia. Elsewhere, Huddersfield have confirmed that Will Pryce will leave the club to join the NRL.
At Hull FC, we've spoken to Jamie Shaul and Jack Brown over the weekend, with Shaul revealing his nerves for his testimonial and Brown his desire for a new deal. Stay with us for all the news and features throughout the day.
New Hull FC signing Tex Hoy is in training for the first time. The 23-year-old landed in the country on Friday, with the Black and Whites beginning week six of pre-season at their home at the University of Hull.
Former Hull FC hooker James Cunningham has left Toulouse Olympique after just one season. The Hull-born dummy half has departed the French club for family reasons after joining from Huddersfield Giants.
Toulouse were relegated from Super League last season and will play in the Championship in 2023.
Jet setters Hull KR have landed in Tenerife as 'Camp Connexin' gets underway in the Canary Islands.
The Robins met at Leeds/Bradford airport on Monday morning at 5am, and landed in Tenerife shortly after lunchtime. Although they have had a hectic morning, Rovers players won't have too much time to relax as head coach Willie Peters will take his first session of the camp at around 3:30pm this afternoon.
Six out of seven new signings are in attendance, with Jesse Sue, Tom Opacic, Sam Luckley, Yusuf Aydin, James Batchelor and Louis Senior experiencing their first trip away as Rovers players. Prop forward Rhys Kennedy is the sole absentee, as the Australian is set to go under the knife on Tuesday morning to sort out a minor knee issue.
The first day of camp has also seen Rugby League World Cup semi-finalist and England's record try-scorer Ryan Hall return to Rovers duty after Peters gave the winger an extended break due to England reaching the final four. Today's training will be a light session before the hard work starts properly tomorrow, and the team will sit down for a meal together later this evening once practice is completed.
Kruise Leeming is up for the challenge of captaining Leeds Rhinos again next season. The 27-year-old was appointed skipper as successor to Matt Prior ahead of the 2022 campaign by then head coach Richard Agar.
Leeming told Leeds Live: “It was an honour to be captain this year and to lead the lads out at Old Trafford and Headingley as well. It’s been fantastic and I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I don’t think the captaincy of a club as big as Leeds Rhinos is something you give away easily. If Rohan thinks there is someone better suited than me to captain the team then that’s a different conversation and that would be fair enough. I’m not a bitter person and I want what’s best for the team but, equally, I’d be more than up for doing it again because I’ve loved it.”
Rhodri Jones has been appointed the first managing director of Rugby League Commercial as part of the sport's realignment between Super League and the Rugby Football League. The 12 top flight clubs infamously split from the governing body in 2018 in an attempt to become more commercially minded.
But a major U-turn has since seen the RFL and Super League come back together and embark on a 12-year strategic partnership with IMG. Jones, a former RFL employee who has been the Chief Commercial Officer of Super League Europe since 2018, will begin in the new role on January 1 – as per the timetable outlined during the realignment process earlier this year.
His appointment follows confirmation of an inaugural independent RL Commercial Board led by Frank Slevin, as Chair, and including IMG Media’s Head of Sport Ed Mallaburn, the RFL Chair Simon Johnson, Anna Chanduvi, Peter Hutton and Jonathan Murphy.
During his time working at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, Matt Cook was often asked by colleagues what his next move might be. The former Bradford Bulls and Castleford Tigers forward would, only half-jokingly, say that becoming a general manager of a Super League club was his dream job.
And yet fantasy will become reality early next month when the 36-year-old starts that exact role at Leeds Rhinos, the eight-time Super League champions. “I thought I’d have to start out in the Championship perhaps but even there, such jobs don’t normally come around very often,” Cook told Leeds Live.
“Luckily, Leeds put the job advert out at the back end of my time at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. I knew I had to apply because they’re one of the biggest clubs in world rugby league. I got my application in, sat down with Gary Hetherington and Rohan Smith, and got the job. I’m really excited for the next stage of my career.”
Newcastle Knights have confirmed the signings of Super League players Kai Pearce-Paul and Will Pryce for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
Knights Director of Football Peter Parr believes Pearce-Paul and Pryce will add further depth to their roster for 2024 and 2025, with Pearce-Paul making his England debut at the World Cup.
“These are important signings for The Knights,” Parr said. "We are very excited to be able to attract two of the brightest young talents from Super League to join our club.
“We believe both players have a skillset that will make an impression on the National Rugby League once they arrive.”
Huddersfield Giants have finally confirmed one of rugby league’s worst-kept secrets by announcing Will Pryce will head to the NRL at the end of the 2023 season. The Giants have not disclosed which club the 19-year-old is joining, but it is thought a move to Newcastle Knights has been agreed.
The son of legendary former Great Britain player Leon Pryce burst onto the scene last year before enduring a frustrating 2022 campaign, with suspension issues limiting him to 15 appearances. Huddersfield’s managing director Richard Thewlis said: “We have known for some time now via Will's management and Will himself that he was set for a move in 2024 and we wish him every possible success.
“It feels better for all concerned to get the news out now rather than have endless speculation during the early part of next year when contracts can tend to form a large part of the media questioning at every club's weekly press briefings. Will leaves in around a year’s time with our very best wishes for the future and we look forward to watching his progress down under."
Hull FC prop Jack Brown is backing his teammate Joe Cator to come back with a bang next year. The 24-year-old returned to training at the start of pre-season after a second Achilles tendon rupture in just eight months.
"He's got phenomenal mental toughness coming back from that, especially to do it again in his first game back," Brown told Hull Live. "It's one you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and to do it twice, credit to him for getting through it.
"It's always hard being injured, you do your rehab and it's boring but you've got to do it. You're the first one in and the last out of the training ground.
"Credit to Joe, he's done that for two years. He'll reap the rewards from that next year."
Albert Vete has spoken for the first time since leaving Hull KR in the off-season to sign a two-year contract with Castleford Tigers.
The Tongan prop forward struggled with injuries and suspensions during his time in East Hull, but his swansong outing against Hull FC will do down in Rovers folklore for years to come.
"I loved it there," he said. "The people at the club were great, and the fans were even better. The people and the community made me feel really welcome and looked after my family and me.
"I've got no hard feelings towards the club and wish all the best to Willie, Skids and the rest of the guys. It'll be a different story when I go down there and play them!
On the Derby Vete added: "I just felt like I owed it to the fans. It was my last game for Hull KR and I needed to have a good game. The derbies were my favourite games so it was a good way for me to end my time at Hull KR.
"It was up there with my best performances for the club. That's probably the best I've felt. Man, I couldn't catch a break with my calves."
Hull KR are taking a large party over to Tenerife, but some players will ultimately still miss out for various reasons. Rovers are in the Canary Islands for ten days as their pre-season preperation steps up.
Connor Moore and Dan Okoro, who will both spend 2023 on loan at Championship club Newcastle Thunder, begin their pre-season training next week. They will link up with Chris Thorman's side for the first time since securing a temporary move to the Toon and will not be with the travelling Robins.
Prop forwards Greg Richards, Rhys Kennedy and outside-back Harvey Moore are all injured, preventing them from making the trip to the Canary Islands. Richards is still recovering from a hamstring tear he sustained against Leeds Rhinos last season, Kennedy will go under the knife on Tuesday morning for minor surgery, and Moore is in the early stages of his rehab after recently undergoing an ACL repair.
Jack Brown's future will become a key talking point in the coming weeks and months, with the young star one of many Hull FC players out of contract at the end of next year. However, there's only one place he sees himself playing his rugby league.
Brown has a goal to get a new deal at the Black and Whites and he also wants to be in the international fold again having missed out this year through his shoulder injury.
"I am out of contract and I'll be fighting for a new one," Brown added. "It's a big year, there's a few of us wanting new deals. That will spur us on and motivate us.
"I set a goal that I wanted to play 20 games and get into the England Knights squad. I set that in December last year and I achieved that. I played 24 games and got in the Knights' training squad.
"Unfortunately, I had the injury but for me it's the same goal again. I want to play every game next year, get a new deal and hopefully get rewarded with a Knights call up. That will definitely be something in the back of my mind."
How are doing? Let's get the ball rolling…
Rugby League news Live: Huddersfield confirm Will Pryce exit, Hull FC star wants new deal – Hull Live
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