Leeds Rhinos close in on new signing to complete overseas quota

LEEDS RHINOS coach Rohan Smith is said to be closing in on a reunion with Papua New Guinea star Nene Macdonald.

Club chief executive Gary Hetherington has insisted the only new signings made are the eight announced so far – Batley fullback Luke Hooley, Gold Coast Titans forward Sam Lisone, Wigan second rower James McDonnell, Castleford back Derrell Olpherts, Leigh back Luis Roberts, Doncaster forward Leon Ruan, Toulouse prop Justin Sangaré and York second rower Toby Warren.

But the recent retirement of Australian forward Matt Prior has provided room for manoeuvre and Smith, who arrived in May and guided Leeds up the table and to the Grand Final, has said he is interested in an additional outside back.

Former NRL player Macdonald, 28, was part of the Brisbane-based Norths Devils side who won the Queensland Cup title under Smith in 2021.

The ex-Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra Dragons, North Queensland Cowboys and Cronulla Sharks man linked up with compatriot Adrian Lam at Leigh a year ago and scored 27 tries in as many games as they romped to promotion to Super League and won the 1895 Cup.

Port Moresby-born Macdonald then featured in his third World Cup, playing in all four of the Kumuls’ matches, although he was forced off injured during the 46-6 quarter-final defeat by England at Wigan.

While he would be a big loss for Leigh, the acquisition of former Samoa centre Ricky Leutele from Huddersfield amid a string of signings would soften the blow.

Leeds have advertised for a new Academy head coach following Chev Walker’s promotion to become one of Smith’s new assistants alongside Scott Grix, and a new team manager after Jason Davidson joined Hull.