Gareth Walker picks out six head-turning signings made in the Betfred Championship so far
Clubs’ 2022 recruitment campaigns are now well underway, and we have seen some impressive captures, particularly in the second tier.
Here are half a dozen of the most eye-catching moves for next season.
Joel Tomkins (Catalans to Leigh Centurions)
It seems a long time now since Leigh announced the capture of the vastly experienced Tomkins (pictured) at the start of August.
But mention of the 34-year-old dual international from Chris Chester in one of the Centurions’ press releases last week was a timely reminder of his capture.
Tomkins finished the season playing as a middle in the Super League Grand Final, and it will be interesting to see whether the Centurions utilise him there or in the wide running role he’s occupied for much of his career.
Alex Foster (Castleford to Newcastle Thunder)
Newcastle Thunder wanted to make a statement about their 2022 intentions – and what better way to do that than by signing a Super League Grand Final try scorer?
Foster touched down for Castleford in their 2017 defeat to Leeds Rhinos and it is a measure of his standing in the game that many were surprised he was dropping out of the top-flight.
He will bring work rate, professionalism and extensive experience of the top division as Thunder look to make strides up the Championship season next year.
Dec Patton (Salford to Bradford Bulls)
Another Old Trafford try scorer, having crossed for Warrington in the 2016 season decider at Old Trafford.
That was one of four major final appearances, the last of them for the Wolves at Wembley in 2019, which saw Patton and his team-mates lift the Challenge Cup.
That kind of experience will be invaluable for the Bulls as they look to improve on their fifth-place finish and early play-offs exit this year.
It will also be fascinating to see how John Kear uses Patton, given the presence of Danny Brough and Jordan Lilley at the Bulls already.
James Meadows (London Broncos to Batley Bulldogs)
Meadows might not have the experience or profile of the other five players in this column, but his close-season move is an intriguing one.
The London-produced playmaker is one of a host of young Broncos heading north after the club decided not to remain full-time, and he arrives at a Batley side on the rise.
Meadows has long been earmarked as a genuine talent who can both organise and take on defensive lines, and he should thrive under the tutelage of Craig Lingard, given Tom Gilmore and Ben White’s progress at the Bulldogs this year.
Joe Keyes (Hull KR to Halifax)
Halifax were one of the success stories of the 2020 campaign and they are now looking to take the next step and challenge for a play-off final.
Among a quality handful of new signings is gifted halfback Joe Keyes, who makes the move from Hull KR.
Like Meadows, a product of the prolific London Broncos production line, Keyes spent four years at Bradford Bulls and had a brief but impressive spell back there this year. He should enhance Fax’s attack.
Pauli Pauli (Salford to York City Knights)
The biggest signing of the close-season so far – if you’re going purely on physical size.
The towering Pauli was a handful enough in Super League, so Championship defences are set to have their work cut out containing the giant 27-year-old.
Throw in another big forward recruit, former Hull FC frontrower Masi Matongo, and James Ford’s pack will cut an intimidating sight for opponents.
Pauli’s arrival at the Knights has certainly caused a stir and he should be one of the most damaging runners in the competition next year.
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