IT’S BEEN a tale of three Aussies in West Yorkshire, what with transfer developments at Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants.
Leeds have brought in Matt Prior from Cronulla Sharks on a two-year contract as a replacement for the departing Trent Merrin, while Huddersfield have signed Canberra Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer, presumably as a replacement for Matt Frawley, although he remains on the books at this stage.
While not exactly household names, Prior and Sezer both arrive with plenty of NRL experience, and in Prior’s case, of State of Origin also.
I had to smile to myself when reading their interviews, because like most Aussies coming over here, it’s all about how they’re hungry to experience our passionate crowds and how they follow Super League closely.
I wish either Matt or Aidan, or preferably both, would have a word with Wayne Bennett and get him to do the same (still no word on his future, predictably).
Trent Merrin is now back at one of his old clubs St George Illawarra after completing just one year of his contracted four at Leeds, where he was captain.
That follows plenty of speculation over how he was unsettled, and although Leeds recently said he would be at Headingley in 2020, it was no real surprise when his return to Australia was confirmed.
It could well be that the Rhinos wanted to make sure they had a replacement before allowing Merrin his move, and fair play to them for acting fast and landing Prior, who has played more than 250 matches for his two former clubs Cronulla and, before that, St George Illawarra.
He has a big act to follow in Merrin, and both Leeds and their supporters will be sorry to have lost a quality player.
But if things aren’t working out, action has to be taken, and it’s probably best that losses have been cut, along with the wage bill, because Merrin will clearly have been on good money.
It should free up some space to make more signings to go with Prior, Huddersfield pair Kruise Leeming and Alex Mellor, and Luke Gale from Castleford Tigers, who I am excited about seeing in a Rhinos shirt.
I like Leeming as a player, but if I can pick out a fault, it’s that he has sometimes struggled to fit into a team philosophy, too often looking for that champion ball rather than remaining patient and helping build pressure.
But as I say, he has talent, no doubt about it, and his arrival is important, given that Leeds need competition for Brad Dwyer.
That said, I have heard suggestions that Richie Myler might move position, given that the presence of Gale and Robert Lui, as well as the emerging Callum McLelland, could limit his chances at halfback.
To be fair, it’s not a bad idea, because Myler could make a go if it given his strength, speed and distribution skills.
It’s a big, big season for Leeds, who desperately need some consistency after yo-yoing for far too long.
Stability is crucial, and now Richard Agar has got his feet under the table as coach, it will be interesting to see how things pan out.
Like Leeds, Huddersfield’s recruitment in recent years has been questionable, and that’s putting it politely.
Sezer arrives on a two-year deal having played more than 150 times in a career that started at Gold Coast Titans.
Matt Frawley was poor in 2019, never cutting it as a possible replacement for Danny Brough, and I felt sorry for Lee Gaskell, who had nothing in the way of support in such a key area.
At times I also felt sorry for coach Simon Woolford, who always seems very honest, and despite Huddersfield’s close-season signings, I see another underwhelming year on the horizon.
© League Express (Mon 2nd Dec 2019)