Shock as Hull FC legend Marc Sneyd exits club to be replaced by Leeds Rhinos’ ex-Man of Steel Luke Gale

SEVEN years after turning down an offer from Hull FC, England scrum-half Luke Gale last night finally arrived at KCOM Stadium, completing a shock switch from Leeds Rhinos.

Black and White hero: Marc Sneyd after scoring the winning goal against Hull KR last August, has played his last game for Hull FC and joined Salford Red Devils. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

With no little irony, and even more surprisingly, he replaced Black and Whites legend Marc Sneyd – who the East Yorkshire club turned to when Gale, then a Bradford Bulls star, rebuffed their advances in 2014.

That, of course, proved an astute acquisition; the prolific Sneyd is firmly entrenched in Hull folklore after winning the Lance Todd Trophy in 2016 when FC finally prevailed at Wembley.

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He claimed the man-of-the-match award again when they lifted the Challenge Cup once more 12 months later and was their co-captain this season.

However, Hull coach Brett Hodgson has been wanting to make changes to his squad after a disappointing 2021; no one truly expected Sneyd – who had a year left on his deal – to be one of the players leaving.

Nevertheless, Salford Red Devils, when unveiling Paul Rowley as their new head coach yesterday, also stunned the press conference by unveiling the 30-year-old as his first signing.

Sneyd joined on a three-year deal and, hours later, the domino effect was completed when Hull confirmed Gale as his replacement, initially on a one-year contract.

Having captained Leeds to Challenge Cup final success last year, former Man of Steel Gale arrives as one of the competition’s leading half-backs from the last decade.

Heading east: Leeds Rhinos’ former Man of Steel and England international, Luke Gale has left Headingley to sign for Hull FC. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

However, there has been speculation about his Headingley future ever since being stripped of the captaincy following a disagreement with Rhinos coach Richard Agar four months ago.

He still had a year left on his deal but Leeds had already signed two high-class Australian half-backs for 2022 – Huddersfield Giants’ Aidan Sezer and Warrington Wolves’ Blake Austin – meaning Gale would have needed to fight for his spot.

The chance to join Hull, instead, clearly appealed to the 33-year-old

Gale will now link up with Australian stand-off Josh Reynolds for the Airlie Birds.

On joining Hull, the former Castleford Tigers star – who played in the 2017 World Cup final for England – said: “First and foremost, it’s a massive club with lots of ambition and that was a key attractive factor for me.

“It’s a squad that you would consider to be a title-challenging one with plenty of depth for 2022, so I’m massively excited to be joining. I spoke with Brett [Hodgson] at length last night and he discussed what he expected from me. I was really impressed with what I heard and it excited me even more.

“Throughout the Super League era, I have been on the receiving end of this Hull side several times – I just think it’s a really exciting squad to be a part of.”

Gale, who helped Castleford finish top for the first time in 2017, added: “With Jake Connor at full-back, that suits me as a player and the strength we have in other areas across the pitch I feel will compliment me hugely.

“It’s a perfect fit for me. I can’t wait to meet the lads and crack on with pre-season training.”

The ex-Bradford Bulls playmaker is Hull’s fourth new signing for 2022 joining Fijian internationals Kane Evans and Joe Lovodua, and England Knights winger Darnell McIntosh.

Hodgson said Gale’s arrival will be “significant in changing the dynamic” of the Hull team.

The Australian added: “He is a proven international player, a natural leader and a competitor, who will have a strong influence on our attack and how we want to play, which will really compliment Jake [Connor] and Josh [Reynolds] in our spine.”

Hodgson paid tribute to Sneyd, who Hull bought from Salford after a season-long loan at Castleford in 2014, calling him a “fantastic servant” to the club.

Sneyd, meanwhile, said the deal came “out of nowhere”.

“It’s been a manic week,” said the player, who hails from nearby Oldham.

“I got a call while I was on holiday last week and it was 100mph from then.

“Hull were incredible throughout and understood my reasons for wanting to move back to Oldham and to come back here to Salford.

“I’m absolutely chuffed to bits.

“I was at Hull for six years and absolutely loved every minute of it but we were ready to come back to family.

“I think it’s pretty exciting at the minute around Salford. They’ve made some outstanding signings and the squad looks like it’s got the potential to do things.”

No transfer fee was involved with either move.

Given both are clearly excellent No 7s, it will be interesting to see which club ends up with the best deal in 2022.