So Hull FC have cut their losses on Josh Reynolds – and I can’t say I’m too disappointed by his departure.
The development came as it emerged that across the city, incoming Hull KR coach Willie Peters will bring a trio of Australians with him when he arrives at Craven Park ahead of next season.
Parramatta Eels centre Tom Opacic, Brisbane Broncos prop Rhys Kennedy and Newcastle Knights and Samoa forward Sauaso ‘Jesse’ Sue are the players in question.
None of them have the high-profile name that Reynolds did when he was recruited by Brett Hodgson from his old club Wests Tigers before last season on a two-year deal with the option of a further twelve months.
He might have started quite well, then suffered an injury which interrupted him last year, but this time around has been a wash-out, and his partnership with Luke Gale just hasn’t got off the ground.
It should serve as a warning to all clubs that so-called marquee signings are a risk and while costing a lot, can bring little reward. Reynolds’ 25 Hull games have proved pretty expensive.
Playing him and Gale has also hindered the development of Ben McNamara, and hopefully he will soon get over his back injury and get the chance to show he’s capable of doing a good job in Super League.
Going by that dire match at Warrington on Friday, which has to go down as one of the least entertaining Super League games ever, Hull (and the Wolves as well) badly need a bit of creativity.
I was there in person – and thanks to Warrington for their excellent hospitality – but boy, were those 80 minutes a hard watch! It’s one out of ten across the board, and only because the two teams went out onto the pitch.
For the good of the British game, both at international and club level, we need to develop players in key positions and let them learn on the highest stage.
There might be a few hiccups along the way, but you can’t get experience if you don’t get time on the turf.
Back in the not-too-distant past, we saw Shaun Edwards, Bobbie Goulding and Andy Gregory emerge as talented teenagers and establish themselves.
But in more recent times, we have witnessed Jordan Lilley, Dec Patton, Danny Richardson and even Jake Trueman burst onto the scene, then get bogged down and fail to progress as they should have done, partly because coaches haven’t felt able to persevere with them and allow them to develop properly.
It’s short-termism, and it’s not as if that approach pays off that often.
Peters’ policy of bringing more imports into Hull KR goes against what Tony Smith was trying to do with the British players there, and I hope that way of thinking isn’t abandoned. Time will tell.
Leeds continue to struggle
Talking of marquee signings who have slumped, what about Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer at Leeds?
Of course it was Warrington and Huddersfield who first brought them over, but they were supposed to join forces and help the Rhinos push on after last season’s play-off semi-final appearance under Richard Agar.
Richard, of course, is no longer coach, while Austin and Sezer simply aren’t producing the goods, a little like the Leeds team.
One of the problems is that Leeds aren’t playing as a team, more a set of individuals.
Watching them getting mauled by St Helens made me think of one of those puzzles where you move squares around and try to come up with a pattern.
There was no obvious pattern to what Leeds were doing on Thursday, and if you can call wins over Wakefield and Warrington a honeymoon period for Rohan Smith, it’s certainly over now.
Defeats at Huddersfield then Saints, where Kristian Woolf’s side didn’t move out of second gear but still put 42 points on the scoreboard, showed just what a gap there is between Leeds and this season’s leading sides, which along with Wigan and Catalans Dragons, Saints and the Giants clearly are.
It was always unlikely that Smith would come in and wave a magic wand, but after five matches, I’m not seeing any real signs of progress.
And nor do I like seeing the new coach copying football managers such as Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp by parading around the pitch at the end of matches, greeting his players.
They’d just lost by 30 points, for goodness sake! He should have been heading down the tunnel to provide some constructive criticism in the dressing room.
Talking of football managers, he came over all Arsene Wenger when he trotted out the ‘I saw nothing’ response when asked his views on the sending off of Zane Tetevano and yellow cards for Bodene Thompson and James Bentley, with his side down to eleven men at the final hooter.
Few sides side can afford to be without all 13 players, especially in the situation Leeds are in at the moment.
Bentley is decent on his day, but he’s been a stick of dynamite this season, likely to go off at any moment, and against his old club Saints, was returning after yet another suspension.
It goes without saying that someone needs to get hold of him and calm him down.
One of the few positives for Leeds was Harry Newman, who scored a superb try and is a genuine contender for an England place.
Leeds head to Hull in round 17 of Super League, and while it could well be tight, I think the Black and Whites will win by seven.
I’m tipping Castleford to beat Huddersfield by the same margin and St Helens to prevail by ten in the battle of the heavyweights. Elsewhere in France, I’m going Toulouse by eight against Hull KR.
I reckon Wigan will win by 22 at Wakefield while Warrington will see off Salford by seven.
International calendar needed
After a great weekend of international action, which I really enjoyed watching and which certainly whetted my appetite for the World Cup, one thing is clear – we need to really build up this area of Rugby League if we are to raise the profile of our game and attract more sponsors and better television deals.
This year’s tournament should be the starting point for a proper structured international calendar.
Of course Australia need to be brought into line and join the party – but is there anyone around with the clout and bottle to do that?
Harry Gration RIP
I’d like to join the many thousands of people who have expressed their condolences to the family of Harry Gration after his death at the age of 71.
He had an amazing broadcasting career on both radio and television and he was a huge sports fan.
We worked together on the Super League Show, giving honest and open opinions.
That was really enjoyable, and Harry was an absolute pleasure to work with, not just because of his professionalism, but also because he was such a genuinely good person.
I also enjoyed a round of golf with Harry, who will be very much missed.
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