Leeds' prolific winger, Mark Calderwood, is to leave the club at the end of the season after failing to agree a new contract.
The England A international, who is closing in on 100 tries for the Rhinos, has turned down their final offer and that is certain to trigger interest in both league and union. "Being a Leeds lad, I was very proud of playing for my home-town club, but I believe in my ability and value as a player," Calderwood said. "It has been a major decision to turn down the offer."
The club's chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said that he had begun the search for a replacement and hoped to announce a signing soon. "We are surprised at his decision, but we respect his wishes," Hetherington said.
The Rhinos coach, Tony Smith, said that he did not believe that any more could have been done to retain Calderwood's services. "I know he will continue to give his best for Leeds for the rest of the season," Smith said.
Calderwood, 23, was a target for Wasps when he fell temporarily out of favour at Headingley last season and has also been linked with a role with the England Sevens squad. There will be no shortage of interest from other rugby league clubs, however. Bradford, sometimes criticised for a lack of pace and facing the possibility of losing Jamie Peacock to Leeds, are possible bidders, as are the ambitious Warrington.
"The phone has been fairly hot today," Calderwood's agent, David Howes, said. "The interest from rugby union is still there and our information is that other rugby league clubs are contacting Leeds for permission to speak to him."
The Wigan coach, Ian Millward, has ruled out any move for Calderwood and says he will not stand in Kris Radlinski's way if he wants to switch to union.
"Maybe he needs another challenge," he said. "If that's what Kris wants to do, I'll support him and I've actually said that to him."
Millward will be without the injured Brett Dallas and Danny Orr at Leeds on Saturday and brings in James Coyle and Liam Colbon.
Paul Sculthorpe is back in the St Helens team to play London tomorrow night after a two-week absence with his latest hamstring injury. There is worse news about Mick Higham: he could be out for another six weeks with a foot injury.
The rival coaches Peter Roe, of Barrow, and Dave Woods, of Castleford, have been cleared of any disciplinary offence over their altercation after their team's match last month.
Andrew Johns rose above two years of almost continuous injury problems to inspire New South Wales to a 32-22 victory over Queensland in Sydney to square the State of Origin series. The decider will be played in Brisbane on 6 July.
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