Five potential replacements for Ryan Brierley at Huddersfield
Huddersfield surprised everybody when they announced that they had sold Ryan Brierley to Toronto for an undisclosed fee.
The Scotland international had dropped down the pecking order under Rick Stone, but his departure has left the Giants light in the halfback department at a time when they are struggling for form.
Stone’s current preferred combination is Danny Brough and Lee Gaskell, but Huddersfield have yet to win a game with those two playing together and they are currently 11th in Super League.
One way or another, the Giants will undoubtedly be keen to recruit a new playmaker moving forward to bolster their ranks, and also add some quality to a side that needs something to change sooner rather than later.
The Giants have, in fairness, started scoring some points in recent weeks, but with Brough’s contract expiring at the end of next season, some major recruitment planning will be needed to ensure they get things right for the future.
But who could they be targeting? Here are five players that the Giants may consider moving forward.
Realistic target: Jamie Ellis
Ellis is, of course, contracted to the Giants, but is currently spending the year on loan at Championship side Hull Kingston Rovers.
The halfback only signed a new long-term deal last year, but he fell out of favour once Rick Stone joined the club and he was subsequently moved out of the club for the year.
However, with Brierley gone and Huddersfield in need of another option, the Giants must surely be tempted to bring him back to the club and compete for a place in the first-team.
It’s believed that there isn’t a recall clause in his deal, but clubs have ‘bought’ the right to get their player back in the past, and that is something the Giants may do to secure them a quick fix.
He has been in good form during the Robins’ strong start to the season and has proved in the past that he is Super League quality.
Given that, and the fact he is their player, Ellis is a more likely recruit at this stage.
Fantasy signing: Cooper Cronk
When you think of players of his generation, Cronk is right up there as one of the greatest of his time.
With 28 Australia appearances under his belt and a career right up there with some of the all-time greats of the game, Cronk will go down in history as one of the best players to grace the sport.
Taking that into consideration, the chances of Huddersfield signing him are slim, however, he has confirmed that he is leaving Melbourne at the end of the season, which naturally prompted speculation that he may end his career in Super League.
If he was available almost every club would be vying for his signature, and although Huddersfield wouldn’t be the likely destination, you can bet they’d make a play for him.
Wildcard #1 – Johnathon Ford
There’s a good chance that Super League supporters have never heard of this man.
But the 27-year-old has arguably been the best player in the Championship this season and has played an influential role in Toulouse’ strong start to the year.
The Australian has been in France for years, but after dominating the second-tier following promotion, there are genuine signs that he is capable of making the step up to play in Super League.
If the Giants were willing to take a gamble, then Ford wouldn’t be the worst choice. He is an unknown quantity, no doubt about that, but anyone who has watched him can appreciate how talented he is.
Wildcard #2 – Jarrod Mullen
The Newcastle Knights halfback was linked with a move to Huddersfield in the off-season, however a move never happened.
A switch became even more unlikely earlier this year when it was announced that he had been provisionally suspended by the NRL following a positive drugs test.
However, the Knights are still understood to be paying his wages as the investigation continues, which is far from ideal for the NRL club.
But, there is nothing stopping the 30-year-old playing in Super League, and given his current predicament, the move may be appealing for all parties.
He knows Rick Stone from his time at the Knights and that may play into Huddersfield’s hands should they wish to sign him. The current investigation and wages may be an issue the Giants don’t wish to deal with, however.
TotalRL’s tip – Richie Myler
Myler’s future is currently up in the air with his contract at Catalans coming to an end at the culmination of this season.
He has already been linked with a return to England, with Widnes one club rumoured to be interested in his services.
But given the latest ongoings at the Giants, they would be foolish not to consider a move for a player that has proven his quality over a number of years at this level.
His support play and ability to cut defences in half is what the Giants lack at times, and would certainly help fill the void left by Brierley’s departure.
As the years have gone by his leadership and organisation has improved too, which would help not only to support Danny Brough but even transition the team if he does leave in the next couple of years.
At the age of 26 he has years ahead of him, and after a vast amount of change in both playing and coaching personnel over the last 18 months, having a player who could remain for years would be perfect for a rebuild that is almost certain to take place soon.