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Leeds Rhinos could be set to release Matt Parcell and Ashton Golding if reports are to believed – while they are also being strongly linked with an NRL a-lister.
While Australian Parcell was an undoubted star of 2017 – earning a Super League Dream Team spot in his first season with the Rhinos – this season was tougher for him and he was unable to have the same effect on the team. Despite being a nigh-on guaranteed starter under Brian McDermott, his departure seemed to mark the re-introduction to the first team fold of Brad Dwyer. After a dual-registration spell with Featherstone, the former Warrington hooker returned to Leeds and, such was his impact and energy from dummy-half, he usurped 25-year-old Parcell as the team’s starting hooker. Now, it has been suggested that the former Manly man could be released by the club to free up some salary cap space and, in turn, almost cementing Dwyer as Dave Furner’s first-choice hooker for his first season in the Headingley hotseat.
Ashton Golding could be another on the chopping block as Kevin Sinfield and Furner ring the changes as they seek to improve the Rhinos’ fortunes on the field. Despite signing a five year deal with his hometown club in May 2017, 22-year-old Golding has seen himself overtaken by fellow academy graduate Jack Walker as the team’s first-choice full-back in recent months. Despite starting 2017 as the starting number one, by the end of the season 19-year-old Walker had usurped his teammate and started the Grand Final victory against Castleford, becoming the youngest ever winner in the showpiece event. This season has seen Golding utilised at times as a replacement hooker himself while also deputising for Walker when injured but it seems that Sinfield and Furner have made the call which may see him depart his beloved Rhinos.
The departure of the pair could free up the necessary funds to allow the team to bring Manly forward Martin Taupau to the club in what some fans are suggesting could be the biggest signing the club have ever made. Reports in the sport’s weekly publications have suggested that Leeds have a strong interest and that enquiries have been made regarding bringing the New Zealand test prop to West Yorkshire for the Furner revolution and, while the club will no doubt have competition from clubs Down Under, the fact the reports have emerged may suggest that there is a serious possibility on pulling off what would be an undoubted coup. With over 130 NRL appearances and 22 Kiwi caps to his name, 28-year-old Taupau would bring both size and experience to a Leeds pack which was sorely lacking both at times in 2018.
Finally, on Monday morning the Rhinos announced the arrival of Richard Agar as the club’s new Head of Player and Coach Development, joining the club from St George Illawarra Dragons as Director of Rugby Sinfield continues to ring the changes at Headingley.