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St Helens coach Justin Holbrook has revealed he is yet to discuss Alex Walmsley’s long-term future with the prop yet as reports intensify he may be bound for the NRL in 2019.
Recently, reports in Australia suggested St George-Illawarra had made a play for the England international upon the expiry of his contract with the Saints at the end of this coming season.
That would appear to fly directly in the face of the rules surrounding not speaking to players who are out-of-contract at the end of the season until May – but Holbrook told League Express he has had assurances from the forward he is fully committed to the club in 2018.
“We haven’t had the chance to sit down and talk about 2019 yet,” he said.
“What I have done with Alex is had a good chat about next season and he’s assured me he can’t wait to get started again and have another huge year with the club.”
Holbrook did admit the interest in Walmsley makes for an intriguing few months ahead.
He said: “As for 2019.. well, that’s going to be interesting. For us, it’s no secret we’d love to get him tied down and keep him at the club but if the desire to go to the NRL is there for him, that’s his decision to make.”
Meanwhile, Holbrook has admitted he is excited by the battle for the club’s half-back spots in 2018 – saying he is still unsure what his first-choice pairing is.
Last year, Danny Richardson, Matty Smith and Theo Fages were in a three-way battle for the halves – a battle Holbrook expects to continue this season.
He said: “It showed towards the back end of last year with my team selection that I couldn’t work out the best combination – and that’s no different now – but I see that as a positive.
“We’ve got the luxury of having three very good quality half-backs at this club, and they’re all fighting for two spots. You need that sort of competition if you want to be successful, and I think it brought the best out of all of them at the end of last year.”