Rugby League: Leigh offer Offiah sponsorship deal

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MARTIN OFFIAH has raised Leigh's hopes of signing him by denying reports that he is about to retire.

The most prolific English try-scorer of all time is set to leave the London Broncos and the side running second in the Northern Ford Premiership have made a firm offer of either a loan or a permanent deal.

"We have a private backer who is interested in sponsoring him," said the Leigh coach, Ian Millward. "He wants to come back to the north to pursue a media career and, although he has other offers from Super League clubs, we hope he might join us."

Offiah has countered suggestions from his own agent that he is ready to call it a day. "I hope to carry on for perhaps another two years," he said.

The former Australian Test hooker, Kerrod Walters, has rejoined the Gateshead Thunder. The club cancelled Walters' contract when he needed to go home to tend to his wife after she was badly injured in a road accident in Thailand.

However, she has now recovered and Walters will return to training today. "He had offers from other Super League clubs, but he wanted to come back to us," said the Gateshead chief executive, Shane Richardson.

"It is a great boost for us with the play-off series approaching and we will give it until the end of the season and look at it again then."

The Thunder are likely to remain loyal to Mick Jenkins, the hooker they signed from Workington as Walters' replacement, for tomorrow's game at home to Warrington.

The Auckland and New Zealand winger, Sean Hoppe, is likely to join his team-mate for club and country, Gene Ngamu, in seeking an English club.

Ngamu, a Test regular for the Kiwis at stand-off, has been cut by the Warriors in mid-season, while Hoppe - New Zealand's record try-scorer at international level - has not been offered a contract for next year.

Bobbie Goulding has been appointed as captain of Huddersfield, in place of Danny Russell, who will be out for most of the season with a broken ankle. Ryan Hudson, a 19-year-old reserve, will deputise for Russell at hooker, starting with Sunday's game against Castleford.

Queensland have retained the State of Origin trophy after the first drawn match in almost 20 years of the series. A 10-all result in Brisbane left the annual contest with New South Wales all square at one win each, but the home side retain the spoils they won last year. Queensland won the first game 9-8 while New South Wales won the second 12-8.

It was due reward for a stirring second-half display by Queensland as they defied horrendously wet conditions at the Suncorp Stadium.

"It's a different way to retain the series but we're very happy," said the Queensland captain, Adrian Lam.