Dual-code star Israel Folau was contacted about a possible return to the NRL with Wests Tigers, say reports – although no formal approach was made.
Former Penrith and North Queensland star Lachlan Coote has revealed he almost gave up on full-time rugby league after his release by the Cowboys last year.
Coote was part of the historic North Queensland side that won the club’s maiden NRL title in 2015, but his time in Townsville ended on a sour note when injury and a huge fall out with coach Paul Green left him disillusioned with the game.
At the time of Coote’s release many NRL clubs had already decided on their rosters for 2019 leaving the City Origin representative facing the prospect of plying his trade in the Queensland Cup.
However, Ben Barba’s decision to return to Australia left a vacancy at fullback at Super League side St Helens and a phone call with coach Justin Holbrook convinced Coote he could flourish in the north-west England.
The decision proved to be an inspired one as the 29-year-old joined a rare list of players to have won NRL and Super League grand finals after helping Saints to victory over Salford on Saturday
His fine form has also earned him a call-up for the Great Britain team that will tour New Zealand and PNG later this month.
The western Sydneysider qualified for GB for by virtue of a Scottish grandmother and he also represented his adopted nation in the 2016 Four Nations and the 2017 World Cup.
His upturn in fortune is a complete contrast to his state of mind 12 months ago when his five-year spell with North Queensland was brought to an unceremonious end when Green refused to pick him and then showed him the door.
“I was left with two options – stay in Australia and play park footy or move to the UK,” Coote told AAP.
“My only option was pretty much to come over here.
“I had to convince the wife to get all the children and take them to the other side of the world, when we’ve just moved away from Sydney to go to Townsville.
“It was hard to do but credit to the wife, I can’t thank her enough, and it’s all worked.
“I’m in a much better place than I was last year and that’s all I’m thankful for.
“I almost gave the game away to play amateur football in the Queensland Cup but I’m glad I’ve come over here now and I wouldn’t change anything.
“The St Helens fans have been awesome, the team that I’ve come into has been welcoming as well. It’s just been great to be around here.”
Coote said St Helens’ premiership triumph at Old Trafford compares well with the Cowboys’ maiden grand final win four years ago.
“They’re both up there,” he said.
“A GF win is a GF win.
“They’re both different feelings, I’m on the other side of the world and I’ve won another GF with a great set of blokes.
“That’s exactly what it was like in 2015.”