The signing of Terry Campese by Hull Kingston Rovers is an interesting one.
On the one hand, there’s the usual conundrum. He’s been absolute quality at times down the years, but he’s now the wrong side of 30, injury-prone and he wasn’t in great form last year.
He might go on to be another Brett Mullins or Bradley Clyde, or, if he is over his injuries, he might roll back the years and prove to be another Alfie Langer!
More likely he might be something in between, like Wigan’s Matty Bowen.
But the other interesting aspect to this sort of signing is that it does make you wonder whether we’re now going to have half of Super League worried about relegation.
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In the days of one up and one down, we might have seen two or three teams becoming focused on the short term, rather than the longer-term player development that the more successful clubs favour.
Remember the 2006 relegation decider between Wakefield and Castleford in which about 30 of the players on display were from down under?
One of the good things about licensing was that, by and large, it brought an end to the era of panic buying which had blighted Super League’s first decade.
I was one of many who campaigned to reinstate promotion and relegation, and I’m pleased it has happened, but the obvious downside to the new system is that the bottom four, which is one-third of Super League, are dragged into the middle eight, which might then lead to relegation.
And throw in the fact that a couple of clubs might only scrape into the top eight in the final round or two of the season, then you’ll effectively have about six clubs with relegation on their minds.
Make no mistake, many clubs will be absolutely petrified of relegation, but we just have to hope that this won’t have an adverse effect on recruitment and junior development.
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I think the best format for the game would have been 14 teams with the bottom club going down.
By the way, I’m not for one minute saying that Terry Campese is a panic buy – and I think Hull KR have done extremely well since they came into Super League. But it’s up to him whether he proves to be a good signing or not!
As for the bigger picture, it’ll be interesting to see if the number of overseas players starts creeping up again over the next couple of years.