11 Free Agents: Looking for a chance to shine

The 2021 season is just around the corner and all clubs across Super League are well on with their recruitment.

In any other year, at this stage of mid-January, most players would usually have their immediate futures secured, knowing where they will be plying their trade once the season kicks off, while being well on with pre-season.

However, with the 2020 season not finishing until the end of November, the demise of Toronto Wolfpack and Ottawa Aces’ decision to defer their entry to League 1, some leading players with plenty to offer are still on the market.

Here, we look at some of the more high-profile free agents still looking for an opportunity to continue their careers, either in Super League or elsewhere.

Olly Ashall-Bott
Position: Fullback
Date of Birth: 24th November 1997 (23 years old)

Olly Ashall-Bott (pictured above) may not have played as many games throughout his career as he may have liked, due to a run of bad luck with injuries, but when he has got onto the field he has certainly caught the eye.
Salford Red Devils were quick to benefit from that potential when they snapped him up on loan for the final stages of 2020. His one try in three assured appearances there won’t have gone unnoticed.
Having come through the ranks at Widnes, a move to London Broncos failed to fully showcase his talents after the curtailment of last season.
He was due to join Ottawa, but instead, a young talent is left unattached as a new season beckons.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Named on the wing in the narrow 13-12 defeat to Castleford Tigers in February 2018.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Salford Red Devils202031004
London Broncos202010000
Widnes Vikings2018-20191440016
North Wales Crusaders2018330012
TOTALS2180032

Rémi Casty
Position: Prop
Date of Birth: 5th February 1985 (35 years old)

A 21-year-old Rémi Casty was very much on the fringes of the first team when Catalans Dragons first entered Super League in 2006.
But his no-nonsense, go-forward style has seen him develop into a mainstay at the club for many years.
He captained them to a historic Challenge Cup Final victory in 2018 and played his part in helping develop the club as a strong Super League outfit in recent years.
His departure came as something of a surprise, but with over 250 top-flight appearances behind him, he would add plenty of experience to any club looking to add to their pack.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Following a double try-scoring start in the Challenge Cup, Casty started on the bench in the Round Nine defeat to Harlequins in 2006.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS 
Catalans Dragons2006-2013, 2015-20203373400136
Sydney Roosters2014122008
France2007-2013, 2016241004
TOTALS3733700148

Weller Hauraki
Position: Prop/Back-row
Date of Birth: 18th February 1985 (35 years old)

WELLER HAURAKI is on the lookout for his sixth permanent club in the UK after leaving Hull KR to make way for a number of overseas imports arriving at Craven Park.
Wherever he has been, Hauraki has offered a consistent option in the middle and that was recognised last year when he was named as a co-captain for the Robins.
At almost 36-years-old he is nearer the end of his career than the start, but after recovering from an ankle injury last year, he showed he could still be useful at Super League level.
Alternatively, if he was looking at starting to plan for life after rugby, he could be a stand-out buy for any club in the Championship.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Missed Crusaders’ opening match in 2010, but started the following week at Wigan’s DW Stadium.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Hull Kingston Rovers2019-20204360024
Widnes Vikings2018132008
Salford Red Devils2015-201873140056
Castleford Tigers2013-20145690036
Leeds Rhinos2011-20123960024
Crusaders201028110044
Parramatta Eels2007-20093240016
New Zealand Maori201010000
TOTALS2855200208

Ben Jones-Bishop
Position: Wing
Date of Birth: 24th August 1988 (32 years old)

ON THE whole 2020 will be a year Ben Jones-Bishop won’t forget in a while.
While the nation and the world were battling their way through the Coronavirus pandemic, the Jamaican international was battling to get back fit after a potentially career-threatening illness, where blood was clotting on his lungs.
Thankfully he did recover and returned to his try-scoring best with a hat-trick against Hull KR in his first game back at Belle Vue.
He clearly still knows his way to the try line, and with a Jamaican World Cup spot to play for, he’ll be looking to make an impression every week.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
A man-of-the-match performance against Celtic Crusaders in the Challenge Cup in April 2008 led to a first league appearance less than a month later.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Wakefield Trinity2016-20201166400256
Salford Red Devils201525163070
Leeds Rhinos2008-2009, 2011-2014835600224
Harlequins201018110044
Jamaica2018-201932008
England Knights201232008
TOTALS24815130610

Josh McCrone
Position: Halfback
Date of Birth: 12th April 1987 (33 years old)

JOSH McCRONE is one of a handful of the 2020 Toronto squad yet to get themselves sorted with a club for the upcoming season.
The 33-year-old returned to New South Wales and turned out for Young Cherrypickers in the local NSW Group 9 competition.
But with no top-level deal signed for 2021 yet, the right deal could tempt him to return to Super League once more.
In his two and a bit seasons with the Canadian side, McCrone helped them to two Million Pound games, securing promotion to Super League at the second attempt.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Captained the side in their first-ever Super League game against Castleford Tigers in February 2020.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Toronto Wolfpack2018-202065151163
St George Illawarra Dragons2016-2017281004
Canberra Raiders2009-20151333401137
NSW Country2012-201431004
TOTALS2295112208

Junior Moors
Position: Prop/Back-row
Date of Birth: 30th July 1986 (34 years old)

WHEN Junior Moors joined Castleford Tigers in 2015, he arrived with a reputation of being a big, physical player with a great skill set, and he more than lived up to that.
He soon became one of the league’s most feared forwards and played a huge role in Castleford gaining the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017.
Unfortunately, a serious hip injury saw him miss over a year of action, but did show signs of getting back to his best when he returned in the later stages of 2020.
There will still be enough left in the tank for another year or two yet.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Put in a strong performance against Wakefield as he introduced himself to the Tigers fans in the first round of 2015.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Castleford Tigers2015-2020114180072
Melbourne Storm2013-2014200000
Wests Tigers2010, 2012250000
Penrith Panthers2007-2008241004
Samoa201331004
TOTALS186200080

Tom Olbison
Position: Prop/Back-row
Date of Birth: 20th March 1991 (29 years old)

IF ANY coach is still on the lookout for another consistent player and a Mr Dependable for their team, then Tom Olbison could be the man for them.
After an eight-year career coming up through the ranks at Bradford Bulls, Olbison then joined Widnes Vikings en route to Toronto Wolfpack.
He has never taken a backwards step during his career and would be a strong acquisition for any club.
He will only turn 30 once the season gets underway, so as a forward he is still in his prime, but also has vast amounts of experience to pass on to younger players.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
A single appearance in 2009 when Bradford Bulls went down 22-58 at home to Warrington Wolves in April.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Toronto Wolfpack2019-20203640016
Widnes Vikings2017-20185550020
Bradford Bulls2009-2016145190076
Dewsbury Rams201320000
TOTALS2382800112

Dec Patton
Position: Halfback
Date of Birth: 23rd May 1995 (25 years old)

WHEN DEC PATTON first burst onto the scene as a teenager he was tipped for a big future in the game.
But he has always found himself behind other, more experienced halves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. So, through no fault of his own, his career may not have followed the path he and so many others expected.
He has made plenty of appearances, but not on a consistent enough basis to make a halfback spot his own.
At 25, now is the time for him to establish himself as a starting half, and a fresh start could be just what he needs.
He looks set to get that chance now at Salford Red Devils, who are thought to have landed his services.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Partnered Richie Myler in the halves during an 80-0 thrashing of Wakefield in April 2015.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Warrington Wolves2015-2020105161437357
Widnes Vikings202020000
Rochdale Hornets2016, 201830113
North Wales Crusaders201520000
England Knights2018205010
TOTALS114161498370

Chase Stanley
Position: Centre/Wing
Date of Birth: 31st May 1989 (31 years old)

AFTER spending two years in Canada helping the Wolfpack realise their Super League dream, it was a competition that Stanley never got to experience.
Visa issues at the start of the season meant he had to wait in his native Australia before getting the go-ahead to return to the club.
That all got sorted and he arrived just a couple of weeks before the game was suspended due to Covid-19.
With the club then withdrawing from Super League, Stanley was left a free agent, and as with Josh McCrone, if the right deal came along, it could work well for both player and club.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
Was unavailable for the Wolfpack’s six Super League matches, but did feature in the 2020 Challenge Cup victory over Huddersfield Giants.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Huddersfield Giants2013-20201964700188
New Zealand Warriors2009-20125270028
Tonga2009-2010, 2013-2015, 2017102008
TOTALS2585600224

Ukuma Ta’ai
Position: Prop/Back-row
Date of Birth: 17th January 1987 (34 years old)

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS fans might not have known too much about what to expect from Ukuma Ta’ai when they first signed him from New Zealand Warriors in 2013.
But it didn’t take them long to realise what a strong and consistent performer the Tongan International was.
It says a lot for him that the supporters were disappointed when it was announced he would not be retained for 2021.
A giant on the pitch and a gentle giant off it, Ta’ai will be an asset to any club.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
A Round Two home victory over London Broncos in 2013 marked the start of an eight-year spell with the West Yorkshire club.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Huddersfield Giants2013-20201964700188
New Zealand Warriors2009-20125270028
Tonga2009-2010, 2013-2015, 2017102008
TOTALS2585600224

Kyle Trout
Position: Prop/Loose forward
Date of Birth: 1st March 1991 (29 years old)

KYLE TROUT may well be the very definition of how hard work pays off.
The forward started his career with Wakefield, but struggled to break into the first team on a regular basis, making just 25 appearances over four seasons, whilst also spending valuable loan time at Doncaster, Batley, Featherstone, Whitehaven and Hunslet.
A move to the Championship followed and he started to make a name for himself.
When Hull KR snapped him up midway through 2019, he was in a stronger position to be a regular Super League player.
He became a regular under Tony Smith in 2020, and he’ll be all the better for that Super League experience.

SUPER LEAGUE DEBUT:
A bench spot against Bradford Bulls in 2012 was the perfect present just days before he turned 22 years old.

PLAYING RECORD

  AppsTGFGPTS
Hull Kingston Rovers2019-2020160000
Dewsbury Rams2016, 2018-201980100040
Sheffield Eagles20172940016
Wakefield Trinity2012-20152540016
Featherstone Rovers2014-20151630012
Whitehaven201521004
Hunslet2015162008
Batley Bulldogs201440000
Doncaster20131650020
TOTALS2042900116

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