SALFORD City Reds owner Dr Marwan Koukash insists he is not interested in signing Gareth Hock.
The on-loan forward’s future has been thrown into uncertainty after a U-turn on his decision to move to the NRL.
Hock was due to join Paramatta Eels for 2014.
But a change of heart was quickly followed by widespread speculation linking him with a move to cashed-up Salford. Koukash has made no secret of his intentions to assemble a squad capable of challenging for honours next season.
But speaking exclusively to the Evening Post yesterday, the millionaire businessman insisted the Test forward was not on their radar.
“We have no interest in Gareth Hock whatsoever,” said Koukash.
“I am not sure why people are linking me with Hock or Sonny Bill Williams or whoever.”
Hock – who penned a long-term deal with Wigan after serving a two-year doping ban – is currently on loan at Widnes after a bitter fall-out with his hometown club at the end of last season. His move to the Eels for the 2014 season was announced in April after the Sydney-based club agreed to pay Wigan a fee thought to be around £150,000.
Media reports in Sydney say Parramatta are prepared to let him walk away for personal reasons, and the Evening Post understands he has told friends he has no plans to move Down Under.
Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan declined to comment on the matter, other than to confirm they had a contract for Hock to move to Australia next year – a brief statement suggesting they intend the Eels to honour their deal. To further complicate the matter, Wigan have retained Hock’s Super League registration.
That means any club wanting to sign him would have to splash out on buying his contract from Parramatta – and then hand over more cash to Wigan for his Super League registration.
Salford, bankrolled by Koukash’s millions, are one outfit who could afford him.
And this denial could be seen by some as a smokescreen, particularly as he has previously complained about clubs hiking their asking prices once they have been made aware of Salford’s interest.
But the racehorse owner insisted: “We will not be offering him a contract.”
If Koukash doesn’t bid for Hock, it leaves a large question mark hanging over his future – unless he takes up his Eels contract.
The NRL outfit has yet to officially confirm he will not be taking up his deal. Wigan prop Lee Mossop’s move to Parramatta for next season has not been affected by this development.
Former Wigan star Brett Kenny has regrettably confirmed he will be unable to attend this year’s Challenge Cup Final between Hull FC and Wigan.
Kenny won the Lance Todd trophy when the sides last met at Wembley in 1985 for a masterful display.
The Australian star had been invited to attend this year’s rematch of the 28-24 classic, but is unable to make the trip across the globe due to work commitments.