Talking Rugby League: Who could replace Lewis Dodd – and why St Helens face age problem

ST HELENS halfback Lewis Dodd is a confident young player whose future from next season appears to be with South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL.

He has apparently signed a four-year contract from 2025 after his current contract with St Helens expires this season.

The sad thing for St Helens is that this means that the club will not receive a transfer fee for a player they have nurtured from a young age.

And, if this is all true, it means that Saints will have to find a player to replace him, much as they had to find someone this season to replace the retired James Roby.

Their solution in that case was to sign Daryl Clark from Warrington, which was made possible because the Wolves had Danny Walker ready to step into Clark’s boots at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It isn’t quite so obvious who they will sign to replace Lewis, although there are some eminent halfbacks whose contracts expire at the end of this season.

Included in that group are Marc Sneyd of Salford and Jordan Abdull, who is playing with Catalans this season but still technically a Hull KR player.

The worrying thing for Saints is that Dodd is a shining star of the club’s younger generation of players and their squad is an ageing one, with eight of their top 25 squad numbers belonging to players over the age of 30, with four more players due to celebrate their 30th birthdays later this year.

Of course that isn’t necessarily a cause of alarm in the short term because players can carry on in the modern game for much longer than they could in the past because of the advances made in training methods and medical treatment.

But only six of their top 25 players were born in the current century, for example, compared with nine at Wigan.

St Helens have always demonstrated in the past that they achieve a fine combination of developing their own players from within, while recruiting wisely.

But with the impending departure of one of their prized assets, they will inevitably have to demonstrate that they can do it again.

History suggests that we would be foolish to bet against them.

Leopards ready to roar

LAST week on the League Express Podcast I’m glad to say that I predicted that Leigh would beat the Catalans on Friday at Leigh Sports Village.

I made the point that Leigh were a much better team than their position in Super League would suggest and I was delighted to see that they proved me right.

In one of our recent Readers’ Polls, we asked which player had been the best new signing this year in Super League, with seven alternative names to consider.

To my considerable surprise, Matt Moylan of the Leigh Leopards came bottom of the poll with only 3.92 percent of the votes.

I suspect that if we ran that poll again, Matt would come much nearer the top than the bottom of the poll.

I would be surprised now if we didn’t see the Leopards catching up and perhaps overtaking some of the other teams in Super League, given that some of their injured stars are on the way back.

NRL breaks a new record

THE weekend’s NRL Anzac Round is always a hugely popular weekend of Rugby League as the NRL pays tribute to Australia and New Zealand’s fallen warriors.

And with a total of 179,337 attending the eight matches, giving an average crowd of 22,417, the record for the highest Anzac Round aggregate and average crowd (set in 2012) has been officially broken.

The previous record was set in 2012 where in Round 8 of that year, 176,309 attended the eight matches, at an average of 22,039.

And the great thing about this year’s total is that Brisbane, who always get the highest crowds in the NRL, weren’t even playing at home.

It’s hardly surprising that some of our most promising players are looking with envy down under.

Briers in the frame

TALKING about Brisbane, Lee Briers is their assistant coach and he is apparently in the frame for the Hull FC coaching job.

I noticed in the Aussie media that one of the Broncos halfbacks, Jock Madden, has been talking about Briers.

“Lee has been massive for me,” Madden said.

“He doesn’t get mentioned as much as he should.

“He’s helped me so much with my attack, just simplifying my game, my role, and getting the best out of me in that way.

“He’s a really smart man. He can pick teams apart and always comes in with a strong game plan every week.

“That helps the team massively.”

I’m sure Hull FC director of rugby Richie Myler will have seen that too.

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,428 (April 29, 2024)

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