England World Cup star eyes shock NRL move

England World Cup forward Joe Batchelor is the latest Super League player to attract the attention of NRL clubs.

The St Helens back-rower is a late bloomer at 28, making his international debut in the recent World Cup.

Sources have told Wide World of Sports that Batchelor has employed an Australian agent and is keen to give the NRL a go in 2024 and beyond.

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Batchelor starred for St Helens in their 2022 Super League Grand Final victory over Leeds and it was his efforts in the finals that saw him elevated for his World Cup debut.

He is contracted to Saints until 2025 – but we all know contracts mean nothing these days.

Bulldogs sign teen star

The Bulldogs are continuing their impressive build-up for 2023 and beyond, signing a promising back-rower from Ipswich.

Lynx Cliffe is only 17 but Bulldogs officials, led by respected scout Dave Hamilton, see something in him and he has signed a two-year deal with an option.

Cliffe will stay in Queensland for another 12 months, playing in the Mal Meninga Cup for Easts Brisbane and making visits to Sydney to train and mix with the big boys.

The youngster is still at school at Ipswich Grammar and he’s definitely one for the little black books.

Priceless history lost

A massive treasure trove of Illawarra Steelers memorabilia went up in flames over the Christmas break.

Priceless documents, jerseys and other items were lost when the garage of former Steelers chief executive Bob Millward was burnt down in Wollongong.

Millward was the Steelers’ boss when they entered the big league way back in 1982 and is still involved in the joint venture.

He collected piles of memorabilia down the years but it is now just ashes and rubble.

Local fire trucks were quick to respond to the fire in a block of units but were unable to save Millward’s garage and its priceless cargo.

Eels pin hopes on returning junior

The Eels realise they are a bit skinny for big forwards following the departures of Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore and possibly Nathan Brown.

As a result, they have high hopes for local junior Toni Mataele, who has come back ‘home’ after a brief stint at Newcastle.

Mataele has represented New South Wales right through the junior grades and at 20, will start next season on a development deal and will be promoted into the top-30 squad in 2024.

But don’t be surprised if he forces his way into the top tier within the coming year – the kid is big and strong and can break the line.

He can play in the middle or on the edges and will be given his chance to impress in the trials.

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