THERE was a major shock in the Super League recruitment and retention market last week when Ryan Hampshire returned to the club where he shot onto the scene – Wigan Warriors.
After a spell with Castleford Tigers, where he picked up a devastating ACL injury, it was widely thought that the livewire would sign a new deal at the Jungle.
However, the Warriors announced his signing at the end of last week, and, according to leading rugby league agent Craig Harrison of Show Me The Money UK, it is a ‘sensational call’.
“It’s the best bit of business that any club does this year,” Harrison said on the Show Me The Money UK TV: Inside the Deal podcast.
“Wigan wouldn’t have signed a player of Ryan’s magnitude if they hadn’t done a full fitness test on him – whereabouts he is on his rehab, he spent about two-and-a-half hours with the strength and conditioning coaches – he had been to Wigan three or four times in space of six weeks.
“Wigan seemed like they needed to get to know whether Ryan was the same person he was when he was 19 or 20 when he was a big star at Wigan. People give their opinions either way.
“Ryan was a young lad who had the world on his shoulders. He exploded at Wigan, we already knew Ryan Hampshire had been thought of like that and he was fantastic in the academy. At 15 or 16, he was right up there with any player I’ve ever seen.
Harrison also believes that the influence of Wigan boss Matt Peet was crucial in getting the deal over the line.
“The Wigan phone call was Matt Peet-driven. He’s had so much time for Ryan from being a young lad. Matt kept friends with Ryan and would ring him after each different club move.
“It tells you a lot about Matt, that if he always knew being in a position of head coach he would come for Ryan.
“Ryan now has no excuses, he is in there and has the potential to play for the second favourites to win Super League. Ryan has spent years improving, both in yardage and defensively, so this could be one of the greatest signings I’ve ever seen.”
With the cost of Hampshire and his utility value, Harrison believes the deal is ‘very good business’.
‘He can play, halfback and fullback as well as wing. I don’t think Wigan are deep in the halves and I don’t think Bevan (French) or Jai (Field) would be strong in the halves. Ryan is a better half than those two.
“For what it’s cost them, it’s very good business. To get a player that’s played over 100 Super League games and still be his age.
“Who would you get at any Super League club for that ability, for the money they’ve paid and someone who can play in three positions?
“Matt Peet is a guy who has signed you after tracking you from the age of 21, then this will work. Ryan knows he isn’t a starting choice, he used to get upset about his squad number.
“It’s a big call for a big coach. It’s a fantastic deal and this will be a sensational call.”rrrrrrvrcrrrrrr\