The players still looking for contracts for the 2022 season

The first pre-season games will get underway this week as the 2022 season rumbles into view, but the business of squad-building is still far from done for many.

Super League clubs have got their rosters more or less in order, but there is still time for finishing touches if opportunities arise.

Likewise in the Championship, which is the first division to start but where there is business still to be done for some, while the later start to League 1 means there are still plenty of openings at that level.

As a result, there are plenty of players, from experienced stars to promising young talent, still looking for a deal for the new campaign.

Rocky on the road for new club

The biggest name currently on the free agent market in British Rugby League is Ryan Hampshire, who left Wakefield Trinity at the end of the 2021 season.

The back spent four seasons at Belle Vue, scoring 28 tries in 85 appearances after joining from Leigh Centurions.

Hampshire’s deal ran out following the end of the campaign and he’s been looking for a new club since, though League Express understands he is only looking for offers from other Super League clubs.

The 26-year-old’s experience and versatility would make him a useful addition to a number of squads but whether any club has the room, budget and desire to sign him up remains to be seen.

Another player still without a contract having left Wakefield at the end of the season is Alex Walker.

The Scottish international full-back, who joined Trinity from London Broncos in 2019, has been on trial at Championship side Halifax Panthers over the past month.

Ian Croad, Halifax’s football director, said when Walker joined that he was “continuing to consider his options for next year”, and he remains available to the Panthers or any other side.

Leigh boys leave it late

Following their relegation from Super League last season, a number of former Leigh Centurions players are still up for grabs having not had their contracts renewed.

Among them is forward Nathaniel Peteru, who moved to Leigh Sports Village this time last year but spent the second half of the season on loan at Huddersfield Giants.

The 29-year-old New Zealander has also played in Super League with Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR, as well as in the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, but another top-flight offer is yet to come.

Alex Gerrard has even more Super League experience, having edged past the century mark of appearances in the division while with Leigh last term.

The 30-year-old prop has spent close to a decade at Widnes Vikings previously but is yet to find a new club for 2022.

Also available is Australian utility back Brendan Elliot, who made 11 appearances for Leigh last season after moving from Manly.

Capital losses

London Broncos’ switch to part-time status saw a raft of departures and some are still yet to find new clubs.

Among those is Tuoyo Egodo, the one-time Castleford winger with 11 tries in 14 Super League appearances who spent the past two years back with the Broncos.

Former Leeds Rhinos man Josh Walters, a try scorer in the 2015 Super League Grand Final, is also available having left London, as are fellow forwards Dan Hindmarsh and Jordan Williams.

There are some significant names without a contract having played for York City Knights last term, including another former Leeds player in Adam Cuthbertson.

At the age of 36, the offload king played 15 games for York last season after leaving the Rhinos, and also had a role with their women’s team, but is yet to confirm his next steps.

Kieran Dixon has also departed York, with the former London and Hull KR winger currently on trial with another Championship side in Leigh.

Another former Rovers player, Liam Salter, is out of contract too, while Joe Porter is yet to sign a new deal at the Knights as he recovers from a serious knee injury, though head coach James Ford is hopeful the forward will remain in North Yorkshire.

Championship market still open

Plenty of other notable names remain on the market having left Championship clubs at the end of the season.

Thomas Minns is currently on trial at Wakefield aiming to earn a Super League contract, having been granted a release from the deal he originally signed to play for Newcastle Thunder next term.

The centre left Featherstone Rovers at the end of last season, as did fellow outside back Ben Blackmore who scored 11 tries in as many games in 2021 but also served a 10-week ban for a racist comment on social media.

Nick Rawsthorne departed Halifax Panthers last term and the centre, who has also played for Toronto Wolfpack and both Hull clubs, has recently been playing rugby union for Old Crossleyans.

Welsh international twins Connor Davies and Curtis Davies are also available after the hookers’ deals with the Panthers came to an end.

Robbie Ward is another number nine up for grabs after leaving Sheffield Eagles, who also let back-row Paddy Burns go.

Winger Owen Buckley was released by Widnes Vikings at the end of a season which saw him spend time on loan at Swinton Lions, and is without a contract for 2022 like fellow Vikings academy graduate Josh Wilde, a second rower who also struggled for games last season.

Former Hull KR back-row Adam Rooks left Bradford Bulls after one season there as a permanent squad member, while Reece Dean, Calum Turner and Matthew Wright are all up for grabs after leaving Newcastle Thunder ahead of their move to a full-time squad.

A raft of players left Dewsbury Rams at the end of the campaign, with former Scotland international forward Sonny Esslemont among those without a deal elsewhere. Matthew Fletcher, Dan Hawksworth and Connor Scott are also out of contract, though regular full-back Joe Martin has stepped back to pursue other interests.

Sam Dowsett, Jake Emmitt and Mark Tyson left Barrow Raiders after playing roles in their League 1 title-winning season, while former Leigh forward Andy Thornley hasn’t signed fresh terms with Whitehaven.

Plenty free from tier three

Patrick Ah Van, with 125 Super League appearances on his record as well as NRL experience, heads the list of players uncontracted having left League 1 clubs, having helped North Wales Crusaders to the play-offs last term.

The winger’s former Bradford teammate Shaun Ainscough is also available after leaving Rochdale Hornets, from whom the likes of Danny Yates, Lewis Galbraith, Shaun Robinson, Lee Registe, Declan Sheridan and Ryan Forshaw are now up for grabs.

Rochdale’s neighbours Oldham, following relegation from the Championship, let a host of players go, with Shaun Pick looking for a new club along with Jamie Abram, James Barran, Matthew Fletcher and Callum Green.

Scotland’s record try-scorer Dave Scott has not had a confirmed deal with the rebranded Midlands Hurricanes, likewise Stefanos Bastas, Nathan Hill, Ryan Langton, Reece Rance and Elliot Wallis.

It’s been all change at Hunslet with plenty of their experienced players, including Alex Rowe and Brad Hey, left looking for new teams. Jy-mel Coleman, Nathan Conroy, Joe McLean, Niall Walker and Lewis Wray are also free.

Ben Morris hasn’t signed fresh terms with North Wales, while Ryan Boyle, Danny Bravo and Sam Doherty have not committed to Doncaster.