Stars’ bombshell moves rock the NRL
NRL stars Josh McGuire and Trent Merrin are reportedly both on the move despite being under contract.
Kangaroos star McGuire is reportedly set to be granted a shock release by Brisbane to join North Queensland immediately.
McGuire has three years remaining on his NRL deal with the Broncos, but The Daily Telegraph reports the Queensland forward is headed for Townsville.
The move comes just a year after the 28-year-old appeared set to finish as a one-club player, having re-signed with the Broncos until the end of 2021.
The Telegraph reports the Cowboys' offer is worth $3.2 million over four or five years and according to NRL.com, McGuire, on holiday in Fiji, has contacted Brisbane teammates to let them know he'll be playing for their Queensland rivals next season.
It will the first roster adjustment for Brisbane since the club announced the signing of reigning Dally M coach of the year Anthony Seibold from the 2020 season.
Current mentor Wayne Bennett is currently still the coach of the NRL side, which remains locked in negotiations with a number of off-contract stars.
Rising talent Tevita Pangai Junior, prop Matthew Lodge and winger Corey Oates have yet to re-sign for next year, while Joe Ofahengaue has one more year on his current deal.
Despite the Broncos being widely tipped to be in title contention next season, allowing McGuire to walk would provide more space in the cap to extend all four players.
McGuire has played 194 games for the Broncos since debuting in 2009, and has also appeared in 11 State of Origin games for the Maroons and 15 Tests for Australia.
His move to the Cowboys would be a huge boost for a forward pack that already houses Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean, but is now without retired champion halfback Johnathan Thurston.
Elsewhere, Merrin will reportedly leave Penrith for a four-year deal with English Super League club Leeds, effective immediately.
Still contracted to Penrith for another two seasons, Merrin has been linked to the English club for the majority of the off-season as the Panthers continue to manage their salary cap.
Those links were shut down last week by Penrith general manager Phil Gould when he tweeted: "Trent is staying at Penrith."
But The Daily Telegraph reports Merrin will be confirmed by Leeds as a new recruit as soon as Thursday night.
Merrin had earlier contacted Wayne Bennett, who is due to take over at South Sydney in 2020, fuelling speculation he could be headed to Redfern.
Bennett had said Merrin had only contacted him for career advice and Gould insisted there was never any offer from the Rabbitohs.
Earlier, new Leeds coach David Furner said he was interested in signing Merrin as a second marquee player alongside former Gold Coast centre Konrad Hurrell.
"There is interest on both sides," Furner said. "No contract has been signed and he's still with Penrith at the moment but there have been talks."
Those talks obviously progressed to the point where Furner got his man.
With staff writers