Seven stars moving from Championship to Super League

There will be a host of players stepping up from the lower leagues into Super League this year, and not just the members of Hull KR’s promoted squad.

Here are seven to keep an eye on in 2018 as they look to make an impression at the higher level.

Chris Atkin (Hull Kingston Rovers)

A member of that promoted Robins’ side, but one who made his name at Championship level during an impressive spell at Swinton.

Tim Sheens spotted the playmaker’s potential and initially signed him on a deal to start in 2018, but when the Lions hit financial difficulties the move was brought forward.

Atkin featured in six of Rovers’ seven Qualifiers matches, and, given their lack of depth in the halfback department, he could be set for an early chance in Super League.

It’s a major step up, but the former Widnes Academy player will be keen to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Gavin Bennion (Rochdale to Salford)

The Warrington Academy product has certainly earned his second shot at the top flight since leaving the Wolves.

After loan spells with Swinton and Featherstone he spent time Down Under with Mackay Cutters, before returning to England with Halifax.

Last year he spent the season at Rochdale, where he was an important member of the side that defied the odds to stay up, catching the eye of both Wales – who he earned selection for the World Cup for – and new club Salford.

At well over six foot and around 110kg he certainly has the physique to trouble top-flight defences.

James Bentley (Bradford to St Helens)

Described by Leon Pryce as the best player in the Championship “by an absolute mile”, and picked out last week by League Express as a Rookie to Watch in Super League this season, Bentley could have had his pick of several Super League teams, such was his impact in 2017.

In the end he chose St Helens, whose record of developing young players will no doubt have appealed to him.

The Oulton Raiders product finished with 18 tries in 27 appearances last year, and will be hoping to continue that strike threat out wide.

It’s important to remember that he only turned 20 in October. But this is a young player who looks to have a big future.

Mitch Clark (Hull Kingston Rovers to Castleford)

Another player who has worked hard for another shot at the elite, having first caught the eye in Penrith Panthers’ lower grades.
He then joined Doncaster in 2015, earning a move to Bradford the following year and then Hull Kingston Rovers in 2017.
Despite injury restricting him to just seven starts and 15 appearances in total, Clark did enough to persuade Daryl Powell to take him to Castleford.
He has some good players to get past to earn a spot in the team, but Clark looked in good shape at the Tigers’ media day last week and should relish the challenge in front of him.

Garry Lo (Sheffield to Castleford)


Castleford will be glad they secured Lo’s signature before his explosive World Cup campaign, after which his asking price might have been significantly higher.

As it is, the Papua New Guinean try scoring machine is raring to go at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle should he be selected ahead of the likes of Greg Minikin and Jy Hitchcox on the Tigers’ right wing.

Last year he touched down 37 times in 30 appearances for the Eagles, and the stadium in Port Moresby erupted every time he carried the ball.

He could be one of the most exciting players in Super League if everything falls into place for him.

Derrell Olpherts (Newcastle to Salford)

His signing was announced back in July and there are high hopes for the explosive three quarters.

Not exactly a youngster at 26, he has consistently impressed in the lower leagues during his career and could add an X-Factor to the Red Devils’ outside backs.

Newcastle coach Jason Payne was unequivocal about his prospects in Super League.

He said: “I’ve no doubt Derrell will repay Salford’s faith ten times over.”

Colton Roche (Bradford to Huddersfield)

Of all the players on this list, forward Roche has arguably taken the longest road back to the top.

There were high hopes for him as a youngster at Leeds, but on leaving the club in 2012 his career took several different directions.

After a spell with Sheffield he saw a year wiped out through injury at Featherstone, before signing for York and then rejoining Rovers.

From there he linked up with Bradford, and now, at 24, he has the chance to nail down a regular Super League place with Huddersfield.