Bodene Thompson looks set to fall victim to Super League’s limit of seven overseas quota players per club.
Leeds Rhinos have already locked in six of their seven for next season, with Blake Austin, David Fusitu’a, Rhyse Martin, Matt Prior, Aidan Sezer and Zane Tetevano all signed to stay at Headingley.
It means that if Rohan Smith is to add an overseas recruit to the Rhinos squad in his first off-season as head coach, experienced Kiwi backrower Thompson has to go.
Smith has confirmed that the former Gold Coast Titans, Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors star, who has also had spells in the northern hemisphere with Leigh Centurions, Warrington Wolves and Toronto Wolfpack, is unlikely to be able to stay.
“Bodene and I have had several conversations about the future and I haven’t been in a position where I can offer him something,” said Smith.
“I really like Bodene, I think he has a lot to offer on and off the field. We get on well as player and coach, and he’s one of the most respected team-mates as well.
“But at this stage, we’re not in a position to do anything there.”
The only out-of-contract player that Leeds are still in negotiations with are Zak Hardaker, who re-joined mid-season from Wigan Warriors.
Tom Briscoe, Jack Broadbent, Brad Dwyer and Muizz Mustapha are all set to depart the club.
Meanwhile, Harry Newman will “most likely” play no further part in Leeds’ season according to Smith.
The centre’s hamstring injury is expected to rule him out for the run-in as well as the play-offs if the Rhinos qualify for them, and he faces an uphill task making England’s World Cup squad.
Prop Tom Holroyd is also out for the season with a torn ligament in his elbow.
But in a major boost, captain Kruise Leeming could return before the end of the regular season from his foot injury, as could Briscoe after four months out with an ankle injury, while James Donaldson had an operation last week on the meniscus in his knee but could return for the play-offs.
Last week Leeds unveiled the twelve players from their Scholarship programme who have signed contracts to progress into Chev Walker’s Under-18s Academy squad in 2023.
The group includes Kai Taylor-Smith, son of three-time Grand Final winner Lee Smith.
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