The 2019 season hasn’t even started yet, but for every club worth their salt, preparations have already commenced when it comes to recruitment for 2020.
Following a somewhat low-key off-season for many clubs in the market due to salary cap pressures, 2020 looks set to be a big year for a number of clubs when it comes to squad movement.
Clubs can’t legally speak to off-contract players until the beginning of May, but when that time comes, there’s currently set to be a number of high-profile Super League stars on the market.
We’ve picked out the top 15 players that will currently be free agents at the end of the season.
Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington Wolves)
The first person on our list is the Wire prop, who is into the final year of his contract with the club.
2018 proved to be a steady year for the former Penrith man, playing predominantly as an impact sub in his 24 appearances.
But he wasn’t selected for either of the club’s play-off games and missed the Challenge Cup final through suspension.
He’ll be hoping to go again stronger in 2019.
Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves)
One of Super League’s greatest all-time try-scorers is also off-contract.
The centre is fifth in Super League’s all-time leading try scorers with an impressive haul of 180. Only Danny McGuire, Keith Senior, Paul Wellens and Ryan Hall have scored more.
But he has hinted that retirement may not be too far away. Will it be at the end of this year? Possibly. But if not, he could be a shrewd capture should he not stay at Warrington.
Theo Fages (St Helens)
There are suggestions the French halfback will play a more prominent role with St Helens this year, but could it be his last season with the club?
Rumours have already started emerging regarding the 24-year-old, with Castleford thought to be interested.
Still only young and with plenty of experience, the next few years are massive in his career. He’s got to decide whether he wants those years to be in the red vee or elsewhere.
David Fifita (Wakefield Trinity)
The fan favourite is likely to attract plenty of interest should he be available.
But Wakefield fans shouldn’t worry too much. There is an option in his contract to extend the deal for an extra year, and at this stage it would appear both club and player would be keen to make that happen.
Fifita fits Wakefield’s style of play perfectly. That said, many other clubs would fancy putting him in their system, too.
Tony Gigot (Catalans Dragons)
Perhaps the most sought after player on this list will be the Lance Todd trophy winner following his exceptional 2018.
This year will be fascinating for the Frenchman. Given the arrival of Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith at the club, it will be interesting to see where Steve McNamara utilises the 28-year-old.
You’d have to think there will be a place for him in the side. That said, there will be many, many clubs keen to take him off Catalans’ hands if the two decide to part ways.
It’s hard to imagine Les Dracs would want that, though.
Bryson Goodwin (Warrington Wolves)
Another Warrington player on this list, Bryson Goodwin proved to be a sound signing after his peculiar switch from Leigh, despite never actually playing for them.
16 tries in 33 games was a sound return from the 33-year-old, who still looks as good as ever. With former team-mate Jason Clark by his side, Wire have a sound edge out on the left.
Would he be tempted to have another shot at the NRL? Possibly, but Warrington will be keen to keep him.
Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils)
An obvious inclusion on this list, it’s well known that Salford’s darling is off-contract at the end of the year.
Everyone expects him to return to the NRL at the end of the season. Will that happen? Who knows, Salford would hope not but it seems somewhat inevitable.
But he’s been a breath of fresh air since his arrival, and whether it be with Salford or someone else, we’d love him to stay beyond this season.
Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves)
Warrington are in for an interesting year of recruitment, huh?
The Wolves have plenty of retention to sort out first, with Lineham another off-contract player on their books.
Since his high-profile switch from Hull, the winger has frustrated and impressed. Last year, certainly by the end of it, he had found some good form.
But will Warrington be tempted to seek alternatives? On the flip side, might Lineham do the exact same thing?
Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
One of Saints’ top performers last year, Lomax will unquestionably attract interest elsewhere should he be available.
It’s likely that Saints will look to tie up the England international way before May, to avoid any risk of losing him.
It’s hard to imagine the 28-year-old leaving, too. Stranger things have happened, however.
Rob Lui (Salford Red Devils)
Look away now, Salford fans, because in 2019 the band might be disbanded.
Lui and the aforementioned Hastings combined destructively in last year’s Qualifiers.
They have the chance to do it against the elite in 2019, and many believe they can set Salford alight.
But with constant off-field talk surrounding Salford, it wouldn’t be a shock if their two prized assets moved on.
Micky McIlorum (Catalans Dragons)
It was a rather excellent first year in Perpignan for Micky McIlorum. He was one of the competition’s top performers and he won the Challenge Cup.
He even got to take his dogs on a walk!
But he has a decision to make this year, with his contract at Catalans set to expire. With many of his former team-mates linking up with him at Les Dracs, it seems more likely that he’ll stay and try and persuade a few other Wiganers to join him. But home is where the heart is, so they say, and he might fancy a return to England… or another new challenge altogether.
Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos)
He set the competition alight in 2017 and Leeds will be hoping he does so again this year.
But 2019 could bring the curtain down on Matt Parcell’s Leeds career, with his contract up.
NRL return rumours have never been too far away, so it wouldn’t come as a major shock.
James Roby (St Helens)
OK, we know that if James Roby carries on, it’s almost certain to be with St Helens.
But we can let fans of other clubs dream for a while, right?
Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers)
The Cas captain is their notable off-contract player heading towards the end of 2019.
Like others on this list, it’s hard to see him moving on. Shenton is Cas through and through and an integral part of the club on and off the field.
He shows no signs of slowing down, so retirement isn’t expected yet. But until a deal is sealed, never say never to anything.
Marc Sneyd (Hull FC)
One of the most polarising players in Super League could be coming to a club near you.
Depending on who you listen to, Sneyd is the most overrated halfback going or the best thing since sliced bread. But not many players win two Lance Todd trophies…
But he’s off contract at the end of the season. It will be fascinating to see whether Hull retain the kicking supremo. Likewise, it will be intriguing to see who emerges as potential suitors.