Clubs scramble to lock-in key Christmas transfers

Canterbury, Penrith and St George Illawarra are poised to lock-in some key Christmas signings while another NRL player is expected to quit Australia for England.

In some frantic late-year player movement, The Daily Telegraph can reveal:

*Canterbury is closing in on 110kg Penrith prop Spencer Leniu;

*Brisbane back-rower Jamil Hopoate has been linked to Penrith;

*The St George Illawarra have confirmed the signing of former Parramatta Eels forward daniel Alvaro until the end of 2022

*There is speculation the Dragons are also close to securing Sharks forward Billy Magoulias; and

*Former Newcastle and Manly hooker Danny Levi is ready to join UK Super League side Salford.


Penrith are desperate to retain Spencer Leniu. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Penrith are desperate to retain Spencer Leniu. Picture: Phil Hillyard


There was increasing speculation on Wednesday night that Leniu was close to joining the Bulldogs, who have won the race to sign Melbourne Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr for the 2022 season.

Leniu has a contract with Penrith for next season but the 20-year-old could arrive at Belmore for 2022. Bulldogs officials lodged their offer for Leniu several weeks ago and were just awaiting his response.

Canterbury coach Trent Barrett built up a healthy respect for Leniu when an assistant at the Panthers. Leniu's impending arrival continues an impressive recruitment drive by new coach Barrett.

It appears Penrith's Malakai Watene-Zelezniak has also joined Canterbury on a train and trial deal, joining his brother and fellow former Panther, Dallin, at Belmore.

It continues a trend of Panthers players defecting to Canterbury following the Bulldogs' capture of Matt Burton and Jack Hetherington.

Penrith have identified former Brisbane back-rower Hopoate, the brother of Bulldogs star Will, who was one of more than 20 unsigned first-graders. He would offer Panthers some depth after the club lost Hetherington and captain James Tamou.

Hopoate, whose brother Albert Hopoate joined Canberra last week, made his NRL debut in round one this year and played 12 games for the Broncos.

He previously played at Manly and Parramatta but was sacked by both clubs for off-field indiscretions. He served nine months of an 18-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company in Manly in 2014.

Magoulias is under contract at Cronulla for next season but has attracted interest for 2021 after failing to cement himself as a replacement for Paul Gallen following his retirement.


Solid sources tell The Daily Telegraph that the Dragons could be a club that has discussed Magoulias, the 23-year-old lock who scored his first NRL try in Cronulla's round-two match against Melbourne this year.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have signed Parramatta Eels 2018 Player of the Year Daniel Alvaro on a two-year-deal. Alvaro struggled to crack the starting-17 at Parramatta and played five games for the Warriors in 2020. The 'Polar Bear' Alvaro has played 95-NRL games today and has represented Italy on the international stage.

Levi left Newcastle for Manly after 2019 and enjoyed a solid year at Brookvale. He was, however, told post-season that he was unwanted by the club for 2021.

While there has been some interest in Levi from NRL clubs, it is understood he has received an appealing offer from Salford.

Levi has not finalised his future but it is anticipated he will join the Red Devils.

It leaves the Sea Eagles without a recognised hooker available for 2021 given the NRL has suspended Manase Fainu indefinitely under its "no fault" stand-down policy after he was hit with several charges after allegedly stabbing a man at a Mormon church dance in October, 2019.


Originally published as Clubs scramble to lock-in key Christmas transfers

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