CLUBS are slowly beginning to show their hand when it comes to recruitment for 2016.
As each week passes, more new signings are announced for next season and there have been some interesting moves.
Of course, plenty of deals have already been done but not yet publicly revealed, principally because so many clubs/players do not yet know in which division they will be operating come the new year.
However, of those who have been active, there are some who clearly needed it.
For me, Catalans Dragons have made the most promising buys.
In Leeds Rhinos’ Paul Aiton, they have one of the best hookers in Super League and, allied to Warrington Wolves scrum-half Richie Myler – can he come of age in France? – thunderous Aussie forward Dave Taylor from Gold Coast and Huddersfield Giants’ reliable winger Jodie Broughton, there has been some judicious recruitment.
On paper, they look strong.
Warrington have been crying out for an established half-back ever since Lee Briers retired in 2013 so to have Chris Sandow already over from Australia playing in readiness for next term and experienced Australia pivot Kurt Gidley on his way, Tony Smith will winter far better than previously.
Castleford have brought Ben Crooks back from his year in Australia and, if anyone can bring the best out of the 2013 Super League Young Player of the Year who endured such a fall from grace with Hull the following season, then it is Daryl Powell.
Sam Tomkins returning home to Wigan Warriors from New Zealand Warriors?
Say no more.
Hull have gone big on the NRL recruits again with Nahe Fonua, Sika Manu, Frank Pritchard and Carlos Tuimavave plus solid Englishmen Scott Taylor and Danny Washbrook but, after years of believing ‘this could be the year’ for the Black and Whites, it would be futile thinking 2016 will be any different to the rest: average.
Leeds have had to invest significantly in new players given the imminent loss of three legends at Headingley in Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai plus, don’t forget, Aiton.
Clearly, with two being props, front-row has been a priority and NRL stalwart Keith Galloway along with Mitch Garbutt, who has already made such an impression having joined early from Brisbane Broncos, should both help ease the transition.
The signing of Huddersfield’s Anthony Mullally is probably more of a gamble but one they can afford to take.
However, it is Huddersfield I feel who have been the most savvy.
Most clubs were in the market for Sam Rapira, the 28-year-old World Cup-winning Kiwi prop, when he announced he was leaving New Zealand Warriors for Europe at the end of this season.
There was good reason for that; he’s a fine forward who will bring another dimension to Huddersfield who are already emerging – dare we say it? – as serious title contenders this season.
Securing the Melbourne Storm hooker Ryan Hinchliffe is a similarly astute bit of recruitment and he is someone who could really make a mark on the Giants.
You sense his game will really suit them and it helps make sense of why Paul Anderson was so willing to let Shaun Lunt leave for Hull KR. Final pieces of the Fartown jigsaw? Possibly.