Joe Greenwood became the latest Super League player to depart the competition to join the NRL, after his move to Gold Coast Titans, with Zeb Taia moving the other way, was confirmed by both clubs.
But what are the consequences of the move? Here are the pros and cons.
PRO – It boosts his England chances
Greenwood is a very talented player with lots of potential. Nevertheless, he has never been given a chance to prove his worth on the international stage.
The back-rower plays in an era where England are blessed with world class players in his position. John Bateman, Ben Currie, Brett Ferres and Liam Farrell are already competing for the same jerseys, and Greenwood is behind all of them in the pecking order.
Moving to Australia presents Greenwood with a platform to demonstrate he can compete at the very highest level. Josh Hodgson’s move to Canberra inspired his call-up to the England team, now the youngster gets a chance to do something similar.
CON – Super League loses another young English player
Over the years, some of England’s best players of this millennium have left Super League too soon. The Burgess brothers left before reaching their peak and James Graham walked away as he discovered his best form. More recently, Joe Burgess left, albeit he has returned, but Josh Hodgson, Elliot Whitehead and Dan Sarginson have also departed.
It’s another blow for the competition, no doubt about that, and highlights the importance of the proposed central contracts.
PRO – St Helens have captured a strong replacement
Losing Greenwood at this stage of the year could have been a disaster.
However, Saints welcome Zeb Taia into their squad as an instant replacement for the outgoing star.
Taia has a great record in Super League, he was a member of the 2015 Dream Team, and that experience and quality will have a big impact short-term for Keiron Cunningham’s side, and also limits the long-term damage of losing Greenwood.
CON – It highlights Super League’s inferior pulling power
Greenwood might not have been regarded as one of the competition’s best players, however, he certainly had the potential to become one.
His decision to depart for the NRL was probably not financially motivated, albeit he’s unlikely to be upset about the finances either, but it is more proof of the gulf in the salary cap between the two competitions.
Beyond that, the lure of going Down Under remains too strong, and far more attractive than the one pulling top NRL stars the other way.
PRO – His long-term contract gives him time to adapt
In recent years, many English stars have not been given a proper chance to showcase their talents.
Joe Burgess, Ben Crooks and, to an extent, Zak Hardaker were out of the NRL exit doors before even getting a chance to show how good they were.
Greenwood, however, won’t have such issues, with a three-year contract giving him the time to settle into life at the Titans, improve as a player and fulfil his potential.
CON – He hasn’t been replaced by an English player
Normally, the departure of a big name player presents an opportunity for a young English at first-grade rugby.
Kevin Brown’s departure to Warrington has handed Tom Gilmore regular action, while Hardaker’s Leeds exit has allowed Ashton Golding to fill the void.
There’s nothing wrong with overseas players entering the competition, but it’s also a shame that one of the Saints’ flourishing young stars won’t get a chance to step up as quick as he could have.