New Leeds coach Dave Furner says the Rhinos are still in the hunt for two more ‘world-class’ signings – and admits prop Trent Merrin could well be one of them.
Furner met the media for the first time on Tuesday, having only landed in the country hours earlier to begin his coaching career with Leeds – despite false media speculation suggesting he was going to renege on the deal at the 11th hour.
And when quizzed about the likelihood of more big names following Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolohea to Headingley in 2019, Furner admitted they remain in the market for the world’s best players.
“I’ve definitely been doing my homework,” Furner said.
“We’ve got another (quota) spot, and we’re looking at bringing in world-class players if we can. That’s our aim; probably two, to help our younger kids come through. But it’s a philosophy of mine that they’ve got to be good people as well as good players.”
Speculation has been feverish on both sides of the world about Leeds pulling off a move for Merrin, who remains under contract with NRL side Penrith.
And Furner admitted the Rhinos have held discussions with the 29-year-old – but said no deal has been signed to bring Merrin to England.
Furner said: “There’s interest. And I think there’s interest on both sides. But there’s no contract been signed – though there’s obviously been talks.
Meanwhile, Leeds’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield confirmed that the Rhinos have already used one of their marquee player allowances for next season – that is believed to be Hurrell – and they intend to use their second before the start of the 2019 campaign, which begins with a trip to Warrington.