EARLIER on today, Leeds Rhinos forward Matt Prior announced his retirement which may have taken some people by surprise.
Prior played 63 games for the Rhinos, scoring seven tries in his three seasons at Headingley with the forward retiring at the age of 35.
Now though, chief executive Gary Hetherington has hinted at a potential replacement, stating: “Matt will retire with everyone’s best wishes having served the team and club so well over the past three seasons. His retirement will now provide an opportunity to recruit another senior player to the squad, if need be.”
Who could a potential recruit be?
There has been much speculation surrounding the future of Leigh Leopards’ Nene MacDonald. Though Leigh owner Derek Beaumont hinted that there doesn’t have to be any departures despite the Leopards possessing eight overseas players when Super League rules stipulate just seven, MacDonald has been long linked with Leeds. Of course, Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith and MacDonald go way back with the two working together at the Norths Devils. It would certainly fill Leeds’ potential questions at centre.
Another Leigh Leopards man, Ben Nakubuwai signed a one-year deal with the Lancashire club for the 2023 Super League season, but again Nakubuwai and Rohan Smith go back to when they were both at the Norths Devils. With Matt Prior’s retirement, that leaves a big gap in the Leeds pack and the former Salford Red Devils forward would certainly add more firepower up front. A potential year’s loan would benefit both Leigh and Leeds with an eye to a potential permanent deal.
After enduring a difficult 2022 with the Catalans Dragons, Dylan Napa has been told by the club that he can find another club. The Cook Islands international is still only 29 years of age and Leeds had been interested in the forward before he made the move to Catalans. A 2018 Grand Final winner with the Sydney Roosters, Napa would certainly bring that experience and big-match expertise that Prior did before him. It would perhaps be a signing more out of left-field, but Napa has a point to prove in 2023.