Super League’s NRL new boys

Each year, a new set of players arrive in Super League from the NRL. Some can be household names already, while others are hoping that’s what they can achieve. This year, we will see some familiar faces returning and some other well-known stars coming to Super League for the first time. There are also plenty of unknown quantities on their way to the top European competition.

Here, we give you the lowdown on all the overseas imports for 2021.

As well as those listed, Ricky Leutele, who started 2020 with Toronto Wolfpack, will again run out in Super League with Huddersfield Giants after a temporary move to Melbourne Storm.

Jack Cogger
Canterbury Bulldogs – Huddersfield Giants
Date of Birth: 5th August 1997 (23 years old)
Place of Birth: Greenacre, New South Wales, Australia

Jack Cogger is not as big a name as some of the NRL stars heading for Super League in 2021, but his partnership with fellow Aussie Aidan Sezer could prove to be an impressive one for the Giants as they look to move up the table under new coach Ian Watson.
Cogger may have to wait for his turn if Lee Gaskell continues to play well in the halves, but he is used to competition, having jostled with Kieran Foran, Brandon Wakeham and Lachlan Lewis at the Bulldogs in the last two years of his career.
He wasn’t ever able to hold down a long-term spot in Canterbury’s side after moving into Sydney from Newcastle after three years with the Knights, so he comes to the UK with a point to prove.
Giants fans will be hoping he can complement Sezer’s game with his running and short kicking game or even step into his shoes if needed with his organisational skills.

NRL Debut: 15 May 2016 for Newcastle Knights – selected at halfback in a 62-0 defeat at home to Cronulla Sharks

NRL Club Record     
Knights 2016-18201--4
Bulldogs 2019-20223--12

Josh Reynolds
Wests Tigers – Hull FC
Date of Birth: 13th April 1989 (31 years old)
Place of Birth: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

It’s been a turbulent few years for Josh Reynolds.
Things haven’t worked out for him both on and off the field since his move to Wests Tigers for the 2018 season. The form of Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall has largely meant that Reynolds has either missed out on selection or been utilised off the bench. The Tigers’ loan signing of Harry Grant from Melbourne Storm kept Reynolds away from the hooking role that he can also fill in 2020.
Reynolds is looking for a new start with Hull and if Brett Hodgson can unlock the halfback’s potential then the Airlie Birds have a real star on their hands.
He featured for his state, New South Wales, in both 2013 and 2014 and made well over 100 appearances for his beloved Bulldogs.
He is known for playing the game right on the edge, so he should get on well with Jake Connor on the Humber. Hull fans will certainly be entertained by Reynolds, that’s for sure.

NRL Debut: 20 May 2011 for Canterbury Bulldogs – selected at hooker in a 20-12 defeat to Canberra Raiders in the Australian capital

NRL Club Record     
Bulldogs 2011-1713841-5169
Tigers 2018-20223--12
Origin Record
NSW 2013-144----

Ryan Hall
Sydney Roosters – Hull KR
Date of Birth: 27th November 1987 (33 years old)
Place of Birth: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

Ryan Hall needs no introduction to crowds in this country, which made it all the more surprising that it didn’t work out for him down under.
Ryan Hall returns to the Super League after having failed to score a single try in the NRL from his eleven attempts.
Perhaps he was just with the wrong club. The Roosters always seemed to have wingers to spare in Brett Morris, Daniel Tupou and Matt Ikuvalu, so Hall was only ever used when other players were injured.
He certainly didn’t disgrace himself. He always carried the ball well, as all wingers need to do these days, but his efforts just didn’t lead to him scoring tries.
Hull KR coach Tony Smith is a familiar face for Hall and he joins a very experienced backline with Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Kane Linnett already a year and two years respectively into their deals in Hull.
The Rovers have signed a powerful winger who will surely provide plenty of punch on their edges in 2021.

NRL Debut: 17 May 2019 – selected on the wing in a 15-10 away defeat to Brisbane Broncos (SL debut – 6 May 2007 for Leeds Rhinos – selected on the bench in the Rhinos’ famous 42-38 victory over Bradford Bulls at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff)

Club Record     
Rhinos 2007-18330233--932
Roosters 2019-2011----
Test Record
England 2009-183835--140
Great Britain 20192----

Korbin Sims
St George Illawarra Dragons – Hull KR
Date of Birth: 2nd January 1992 (29 years old)
Place of Birth: Gerringong, New South Wales, Australia

You’ve met Ashton, now meet his younger brother Korbin Sims.
Much younger actually so don’t worry, he’s not just about to retire!
He’s still the right side of 30 years old and has plenty of experience with three NRL clubs over the last eight seasons.
There have been times when the prop forward has been one of the form players in the competition, particularly when he played with the Broncos, but Sims has struggled to maintain that form to become a regular starter in the Aussie competition.
Nevertheless, he arrives in Hull as a big, strong and tall front-row forward who will punch plenty of holes in defences and spin to give the offload.
Like both his brothers, Ashton and Tariq, as well as their cousin Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Korbin has featured for Fiji on the international stage.

NRL Debut: 25 March 2013 for Newcastle Knights – selected on the bench in a 34-6 home victory over North Queensland Cowboys

NRL Club Record      
Test Record

Brad Takairangi
Parramatta Eels – Hull KR
Date of Birth: 14th June 1989 (31 years old)
Place of Birth: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Another experienced player joining the Super League from the NRL, Brad Takairangi will help the Rovers to make the edge of their pack much stronger but he will also add some steel to their backline too if needed.
Takairangi can feature both in the second row and in the centres if required and heads to Hull with a huge amount of NRL games under his belt.
Takairangi started his career playing internationally for the Cook Islands in the Pacific Cup against Samoa before he debuted in the NRL with Sydney Roosters.
Since then, he has gone on to feature for New Zealand on the international stage as well as Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta Eels.
He wasn’t able to hold down a regular spot in his final year with the Eels but still played ten times in a good Parramatta side who went deep into the competition in 2020.

NRL Debut: 21 March 2010 for Sydney Roosters – selected on the bench in a 44-32 home win over Wests Tigers

NRL Club Record      
Test Record
Cook Islands2009-2019713-10
New Zealand201741--4

Albert Vete
Melbourne Storm – Hull KR
Date of Birth: 24th January 1993 (27 years old)
Place of Birth: Auckland, New Zealand

Albert Vete is another one of the less well-known stars heading to the Super League, but he does arrive with plenty of NRL experience under his belt, particularly with New Zealand Warriors.
He featured for his hometown club 36 times between 2015 and 2016 but has struggled since to hold down a regular place in the top competition down under, playing only 18 times in four seasons for New Zealand and Melbourne.
Vete, a powerful impact forward who transferred to the Storm mid-way through the 2018 season when Melbourne were struggling with injuries up front. But even so, he would play only once for the Storm in 2018 and 2019 before enjoying a more successful 2020, coming off the bench six times for Craig Bellamy’s team.
Vete represented Tonga twice in 2015 against Samoa and Cook Islands.

NRL Debut: 7 March 2015 for New Zealand Warriors – selected on the bench in a 24-14 away defeat to Newcastle Knights

NRL Club Record      
NZ Warriors2015-18464--16
Test Record

Zane Tetevano
Penrith Panthers – Leeds Rhinos
Date of Birth: 4th November 1990 (30 years old)
Place of Birth: Tokoroa, New Zealand

Leeds have done well to find a great replacement for Ava Seumanufagai, who has been released as he heads back home to the southern hemisphere.
Zane Tetevano played a brilliant part in Penrith Panthers’ sensational 2020, playing 19 times in all as they made the Grand Final last year.
It was his only year with Penrith after starting his career with Newcastle back in 2011.
He struggled to break through with the Knights, but found more luck when he travelled to Sydney and the Roosters, where he made 74 appearances in only three seasons, becoming a regular in a successful side.
The Rhinos are signing a quality NRL player who will be a great addition to their pack.

NRL Debut: 23 July 2011 for Newcastle Knights – selected on the bench in an 18-0 away defeat of Cronulla Sharks

NRL Club Record      
Test Record
Cook Islands2009-165----
New Zealand20193----

Elijah Taylor
Wests Tigers – Salford Red Devils
Date of Birth: 27th February 1990 (30 years old)
Place of Birth: Hawera, New Zealand

Salford moved quickly to make sure they covered the departure of Luke Yates to Huddersfield by signing Elijah Taylor from Wests Tigers.
The Red Devils are signing an accomplished forward with plenty of NRL and international experience.
His entire career has been spent as a regular in the NRL, although in the last year he found it more difficult to play regularly for the Tigers, making eleven appearances in 2020 for Wests.
He can play both in the middle of the pack and on the edge, but will likely feature heavily in the middle to fill the void left by Yates.
Taylor has made seven appearances for New Zealand internationally as well as playing for the nation’s club side and Penrith Panthers.

NRL debut: 3 April 2011 for New Zealand Warriors – selected on the bench in a 26-18 win over Cronulla Sharks in Taupo, New Zealand

NRL Club Record      
Test Record
New Zealand2011-17112--8

Sione Mata’utia
Newcastle Knights – St Helens
Date of Birth: 25th June 1996 (24 years old)
Place of Birth: Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia

Sione Mata’utia, the younger brother of Castleford star Peter Mata’utia, is one of three Rugby League-playing brothers, Pat being the other, and he is famed for being the youngest player ever to play international Rugby League for Australia.
Mata’utia was only 18 when he turned out for the Kangaroos in 2014 against England in the Four Nations only a matter of months after making his debut in the NRL in July.
He featured in three of Australia’s Four Nations games that year, but has failed to make another appearance for the Green and Gold since, instead playing for Samoa in 2017.
Mata’utia came through the youth system as a speedy backline player, but has since moved more into the second row, although he would also be comfortable at centre.
He spent seven years with Newcastle Knights at his first and only NRL club to date, making over 100 appearances, remaining a regular in the side throughout his time in Newcastle.
Saints fans should be excited to welcome Mata’utia to the club as a replacement for Dominique Peyroux alongside Joel Thompson.

NRL Debut: 25 July 2014 for Newcastle Knights – selected at fullback in a 16-12 home victory over Sydney Roosters

NRL Club Record      
Test Record

Agnatius Paasi
New Zealand Warriors – St Helens
Date of Birth: 30th November 1991 (29 years old)
Place of Birth: Tonga

We’ve not seen too much of Agnatius Paasi in recent months.
Paasi was one of the members of the New Zealand Warriors squad who sacrificed their home lives to travel to Australia to help the NRL continue in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Paasi and two other squad members ended up travelling home to be with their families during the season and now he has decided to take up a new challenge here in the UK.
Paasi announced himself on the scene with Gold Coast Titans, after debuting with New Zealand Warriors the year before, in the NRL Nines tournament.
You might be thinking he’s a quick and elusive backline player, but the powerful prop forward wowed everyone with his performances up front in the reduced format of the game.
He has been a regular feature for both the Titans and the Warriors, returning there in 2018, for the vast majority of his career and he should be entering his prime at the age of just 29.

NRL Debut: 19 July 2014 for New Zealand Warriors – selected on the bench in a 28-22 away defeat to Brisbane Broncos

NRL Club Record      
NZ Warriors2014, 2018-20537--28
Test Record

Joel Thompson
Manly Sea Eagles – St Helens
Date of Birth: 24th August 1988 (32 years old)
Place of Birth: Ivanhoe, New South Wales, Australia

Joel Thompson is yet another second-row forward signing with St Helens ahead of 2021 and he is just as exciting as Sione Mata’utia.
Thompson is in a different part of his career to his new team-mate at the age of 32, but he will bring huge experience to the Saints’ back row to complement the firecrackers they have in there already in James Bentley and co.
Thompson made his NRL debut for Canberra Raiders back in 2008 before travelling north to St George and then to Manly.
The forward has been an NRL regular for a decade and his partnership with Curtis Sironen at the Sea Eagles was one of the most formidable in the NRL.
For a forward, he also possesses a good eye for a try.
He has played for the Indigenous All Stars team on seven occasions as well as the New South Wales Country team twice.

NRL Debut: 7 September 2008 for Canberra Raiders – selected on the bench in a 52-34 home victory over Canterbury Bulldogs

NRL Club Record      
Sea Eagles2018-206016--64

Mason Lino
Newcastle Knights – Wakefield Trinity
Date of Birth: 4th February 1994 (26 years old)
Place of Birth: Apia, Samoa

Mason Lino has big boots to fill in Wakefield.
The halfback will be expected to provide what Danny Brough has done for a good many years in West Yorkshire.
Lino has played 34 times in the NRL to date, but playing in a side on a weekly basis isn’t something he is too used to. Down under, he was mainly used on occasion, playing behind both ex-Wigan star Blake Green and Mitchell Pearce at the Knights in 2020, but when he was thrown into the action, Lino always produced a good performance, earning call-ups to the Samoa side on three occasions.
Lino moved between New Zealand and Newcastle looking for more game-time, with Green and Shaun Johnson occupying the halfback spots in Auckland. But Green ended up following him to Newcastle later and he failed to find a regular spot with the Knights in the NRL.
Lino has a killer short kicking game and he is a quick runner of the ball and still has youth on his side at the age of 26.

NRL Debut: 22 August 2015 for New Zealand Warriors – selected at stand off in a 50-16 home defeat to North Queensland Cowboys

NRL Club Record      
NZ Warriors2015, 2017-1817316-44
Test Record

Greg Inglis
South Sydney Rabbitohs – Warrington Wolves
Date of Birth: 15th January 1987 (33 years old)
Place of Birth: Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia

There isn’t any doubt who is the most famous marquee player heading to Super League is in 2021.
Greg Inglis is coming out of retirement to star for Warrington Wolves this year after retiring through injury during 2019.
Since then, Inglis has remained with South Sydney Rabbitohs in a coaching capacity but has left to head to the northern hemisphere.
Inglis, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Friday, is one of the modern greats of Rugby League, playing for Australia 39 times and Queensland 32 times during his glittering career, which started in Melbourne in 2005.
Beginning as a winger, Inglis moved into the centres before featuring at fullback in his early years in South Sydney, helping the club win the Premiership in 2014.
Later in his career, he moved back to the centre and he will likely feature there for the Wolves in 2021 but he could probably play anywhere on the field with his immense size, speed and skill, which very few can touch. The only question for the Wolves is whether he can recapture his undoubted brilliance when coming out of retirement.

NRL Debut: 16 April 2005 for Melbourne Storm – made a try-scoring debut on the wing in a 26-14 home defeat to Parramatta Eels

NRL Club Record      
Origin Record
Test Record

John Bateman
Canberra Raiders – Wigan Warriors
Date of Birth: 30th September 1993 (27 years old)
Place of Birth: Bradford, West Yorkshire, England

If you’re not a follower of the NRL, you could be forgiven for thinking that John Bateman must have failed in Australia to be returning so soon. But you’d be very wrong.
Bateman will go down as one of the best British exports to go to the NRL, despite spending only two seasons with Canberra Raiders.
He won the coveted Dally M second-row of the Year in 2019 as he helped the Raiders make their first Grand Final in a quarter of a century and, despite injuries plaguing him early on in 2020, he still returned to the team later on in the year and played at a very high level.
It doesn’t seem to be often that Super League welcomes one of the NRL’s stars, but that is exactly what Wigan are getting as Bateman returns to the club he left at the end of 2018.

NRL Debut: 17 March 2019 – selected at loose forward in a 21-0 victory on the Gold Coast against the Titans (SL debut – 25 April 2011 for Bradford – selected at loose forward in an 8-8 draw in the south of France against Catalans Dragons)

Club Record      
W Warriors2014-1813235--140
Test Record
Great Britain201941--4

Jai Field
Parramatta Eels – Wigan Warriors
Date of Birth: 6th September 1997 (23 years old)
Place of Birth: Shellharbour, New South Wales, Australia

Alongside John Bateman, Wigan are welcoming Jai Field to the club ahead of 2021.
Another young halfback, Field has been famed for his electric pace, which should make him a fan favourite at the DW Stadium to rival Bevan French, who has endeared himself to the Wigan supporters with his breathtaking style of play since joining the Warriors, also from Parramatta.
Field should work well alongside Jackson Hastings, utilising his running game off the back of Hastings’ impressive organisational skills.
Field doesn’t have too much NRL experience under his belt, having played only 17 games in four seasons in the first grade.
He was part of St George Illawarra Dragons’ squad for three years before moving to Parramatta ahead of 2020, but he failed to oust Mitchell Moses or Dylan Brown permanently from the team, but did well when called upon when Moses was injured mid-way through the season.

NRL Debut: 4 March 2017 for St George Illawarra Dragons – selected on the bench in a 42-10 defeat of Penrith Panthers in Kogarah

NRL Club Record      

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