MOST of the Super League clubs have finished their recruitment and retention for the 2023 season.
In terms of those players leaving the 12 Super League sides, there has been quite a number, although of course some teams have experienced more losses than others.
Putting things into perspective, which player will each Super League club miss the most next season?
Castleford Tigers – Derrell Olpherts
Out: Jake Trueman (Hull FC), Derrell Olpherts (Leeds Rhinos), Gareth O’Brien (Leigh Leopards), James Clare, Cheyse Blair, Ryan Hampshire, Sosaia Feki (all released)
Jake Trueman could quite easily have taken this spot given his longevity at the Jungle, but Castleford have acted quick to replace him with both Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller. Therefore, Derrell Olpherts takes the spot given his workrate and ability to get the Tigers on the front foot out of defence in 2022. Often with the best stats in terms of yardage making and metres after contact, Castleford will miss the winger going forward.
Catalans Dragons – Sam Kasiano
Out: Josh Drinkwater, Sam Kasiano, Gil Dudson (both Warrington Wolves), Joe Chan (Melbourne Storm), Mathieu Cozza (Featherstone Rovers), Benjamin Jullien, Dean Whare (both Pia), Romain Franco, Samisoni Langi, Corentin Le Cam, Dylan Napa (all released)
It could quite easily have been Josh Drinkwater, Dean Whare or Samisoni Langi taking this spot, but the effect that Sam Kasiano has on defenders means the former NRL prop is unrivalled in terms of impact in Super League. Catalans will no longer have Kasiano’s huge presence to bulldoze defences.
Huddersfield Giants – Ricky Leutele
Out: Louis Senior (Hull Kingston Rovers), Jake Wardle (Wigan Warriors), Ricky Leutele (Leigh Leopards), Michael Lawrence, Chester Butler (both Bradford Bulls), Jon Luke Kirby (York), Fenton Rogers, George Roby (both Bradford Bulls, loan), Danny Levi (released)
It’s no secret who Huddersfield will miss the most in 2023 – Ricky Leutele. The ex-Melbourne Storm and Toronto Wolfpack centre had one of the best seasons of his career in 2022 with the Giants replacing him with Kevin Naiqama and Esan Marsters. On his day, Leutele was the best centre in the top flight last season.
Hull FC – Jake Connor
Out: Jake Connor (Huddersfield Giants), Manu Ma’u (Catalans Dragons), Will Smith (Wests Tigers), Jordan Johnstone (Wests Tigers), Luke Gale, Marcus Walker, Aidan Burrell (all released)
Like Huddersfield, it’s obvious who Hull will miss the most in 2023 – Jake Connor. With the ability to turn a game on its head with one incredible piece of skill, the maverick has joined Huddersfield. Taking home the title for the most try assists in 2022 will leave a huge gap at the MKM Stadium.
Hull KR – Korbin Sims
Out: Albert Vete (Castleford Tigers), Ben Crooks (Keighley Cougars), Tom Wilkinson (Dewsbury Rams), Adam Rusling, Nathan Cullen (both Cornwall), Korbin Sims (retired), Will Maher, Brad Takairangi, Tom Garratt, Charlie Cavanaugh, Bailey Dawson, Tom Wilkinson (released)
It’s not so much what Korbin Sims does on the field in terms of his performances that made him so well liked at Hull KR, it’s also his ability to improve the attitudes of those playing around him. Always an inspiration on and off the field, the Robins will miss his loud personality.
Leeds Rhinos – Liam Sutcliffe
Out: Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Dwyer (both Hull FC), Zak Hardaker, Tom Briscoe (both Leigh Leopards), Jack Walker, Bodene Thompson (both Bradford Bulls), Matt Prior (retired), Jack Broadbent.
Zak Hardaker and Brad Dwyer are both huge losses, but Liam Sutcliffe pips them to the post. With the ability to play in almost every position, Sutcliffe wowed in the centres in 2022 under Rohan Smith. His exit leaves a massive gap to be filled with Nene MacDonald. Sutcliffe was someone who never let the Rhinos down.
Leigh Leopards – Nene MacDonald
Out: Blake Ferguson (compassionate leave), Luis Roberts (Leeds Rhinos), Adam Sidlow, Sam Stone (both Salford Red Devils), Mark Ioane (Keighley Cougars), Ata Hingano (York), Kieran Dixon (Widnes Vikings), Jy Hitchcox (Rochdale Hornets), Nene MacDonald (Leeds Rhinos), Krisnan Inu (retired), Caleb Aekins (released)
To replace Zak Hardaker and Liam Sutcliffe, Leeds have signed Leigh’s Nene MacDonald – a player who ripped defences to shreds in the Championship in 2022. Always a danger out wide, the PNG international endeared himself to the Leopards’ fans like few have done before him.
Salford Red Devils – Elijah Taylor
Out: Sam Luckley (Hull Kingston Rovers), Harvey Livett (Huddersfield Giants), Greg Burke, Jack Wells (both Barrow Raiders), Elijah Taylor (Featherstone Rovers), Morgan Escare (Carcassonne)
Losing a captain is never an easy thing to happen in sport, but Salford have had to experience that ahead of Super League 2023 with the loss of Elijah Taylor to Featherstone Rovers. The former Wests Tigers man became quite the cult hero at the AJ Bell Stadium last season, helping to guide the Red Devils to within 80 minutes of the Grand Final.
St Helens – Regan Grace
Out: Aaron Smith (Leigh Leopards), Regan Grace (Racing 92 RU), Kyle Amor (Widnes Vikings), Josh Simm (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Rio Corkill, Tom Nisbett (both released)
Losing a winger of Regan Grace’s quality is always going to be damaging for any side given his undeniable talent. The Welsh international has joined rugby union side Racing 92 with his departure seemingly filled by Jon Bennison and Tee Ritson, both of whom will have to go some way in matching Grace’s quality.
Wakefield Trinity – David Fifita
Out: Yusuf Aydin, James Batchelor (both Hull Kingston Rovers), Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons), Jacob Miller (Castleford Tigers), Sadiq Adebiyi, Brad Walker (both Keighley Cougars), Tinirau Arona, David Fifita, Thomas Minns (all released)
Has there ever been an overseas player to join Wakefield and leave such a legacy as David Fifita? The rampaging forward was loved by all at Belle Vue with his barnstorming runs and terrific offloads wowing audiences far and wide. His exit has left Trinity with big shoes to fill especially given his personality on and off the field.
Warrington Wolves – Gareth Widdop
Out: Oliver Holmes, Jack Hughes, Rob Mulhern, Matt Davis, Jacob Gannon (all Leigh Leopards), Gareth Widdop (Castleford Tigers), Jason Clark (Limoux Grizzlies), Toby King (Wigan Warriors, loan), Ellis Longstaff (Salford Red Devils, loan)
Sometimes criticised by the English viewers, Gareth Widdop had a massive impact on Warrington during his time at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. There through thick and thin, the class and honesty of the former NRL star was there for all to see during the 2022 season. Though the Wolves have brought in Josh Drinkwater, Daryl Powell’s side will miss Widdop’s leadership and temerity.
Wigan Warriors – Jake Bibby
Out: Oliver Partington (Salford Red Devils), Jack Bibby, Jake Bibby, Sam Halsall, (all Huddersfield Giants), Tommy Leuluai (retired)
One of the most underrated players in Super League, Jake Bibby excelled for Wigan in his time at the club. Able to play either centre or wing, Bibby found himself at right centre, right wing and left centre and left wing – and covered all four positions with aplomb. The 26-year-old has signed for Huddersfield, but will be fondly remembered at the DW Stadium.