There’s something in the air this year, in the NRL and Super League there’s been a real throw back to old style Rugby League.
Sin Bins for foul play, over-zealous refs, players getting a bit thuggish both on the field and off it. One of the interesting throwbacks that I’m going to talk about now is the return of the mid-season transfer.
Of course, at Hull we’ve had Watts leave for pastures new and brought in Joe Westerman and Liam Harris (who was sort of already in the fold), and we’ve almost taken Curtis Naughton back, with a terribly unfortunate injury the only thing that put paid to that particular move. Our injury crisis – and it really can’t be given any other name but crisis – has seen at one point the ridiculous sight of us putting squad out where Shaul’s number 1 jersey was followed by Mints number 9, meaning every first choice three-quarter and half were out. To still be in touch with the top 4 having gone through that is testament to our strength in depth, and to our second tier of players that take up hardly any salary cap space.
The signing of Joe Westerman has, to date anyway, been good business. Joe seems to have matured a little and his displays on the field have been great, even if he was thrown in a couple of weeks earlier than Radders would’ve liked. The circumstances of his leaving the Canadian Wolverines or whatever they’re called is murky to say the least, but given our circumstances, their loss has been our godsend.
Liam Harris looked great in patches against Rovers, and to get your first Super League try against the club that didn’t want you must’ve been sweet. He’s still a kid though, and tucked under the wing of Richard Horne at Donny won’t do him any harm at all.
One thing is for sure, our mid-season trade has been generally good business, and an injury crisis of biblical proportions hasn’t stopped us from camping in the top eight as we’re accustomed to. An injury crisis of similar proportions has derailed a Rovers squad badly, and they are now looking to bring in players that will steer them through the minefield of a relegation fight.
So, therefore, our lesser and less intellectually gifted neighbours are also in the market, having offered Westy a deal too. The rumour currently doing the rounds is that they are about to sign Chris Sandow which would be an interesting development to say the least.
The Aussie view of Sandow is that he’s a talented maverick that is incapable of staying out of trouble, a bit like, well, the Aussie view of Albert Kelly really. Sandow’s last NRL club was Parramatta and that was a marriage made in hell.
Whilst there he was dropped for disciplinary reasons (crashing his club car and abandoning it, a Facebook rant peppered with expletives, and publicly being critical of the head coach) dropped for poor form, and finally refusing point blank to adhere to the coach’s game-plan and going rogue on the pitch… They got rid of him quick smart and he lobbed up at Warrington, where he became the very definition of a “rocks and diamonds” player.
Sometimes unplayable, sometimes enigmatically awful, sometimes in the same set of six tackles. He became a very expensive luxury to have on the books and he’s lost a yard of pace too, especially with his much-publicised battles with his size, weighing him down if you’ll pardon the pun. Wire also got rid, and the last anyone has seen of him was in the papers over here having a drunken fight in the street outside a pub in the outback town of Cherbourg around New Years Day 2017. He was charged with Public Nuisance and luckily escaped conviction by virtue of a canny lawyer who suggested that Sandow work in conflict resolution in the local aboriginal community.
A conviction would have totally wrecked any chance of him playing back in Europe as he would have found it hard to get a work permit, which is what happened when we signed Michael Crocker. As it is though, Rovers signing him would be a hell of a risk as he’s not played at a decent level for two years, currently turning out for the Moranbah Miners in the local Mackay competition which is about as far under the radar as the average coal miner gets.
He’s 29, which isn’t that bad, and he should actually be in the prime of a halfback’s career, his main problem is between his ears. With the recent news that Rovers offered a 3 year deal to the most screwed up halfback in world RL in Todd Carney, which he turned down, I’d say anything is possible as they look really desperate for fresh blood. Signing Danny MacGuire has been a calculated risk, and unfortunately for them and him an aging 36 year old body seems to be breaking down slowly, as he takes his retirement pay whilst sitting in the stands.
In the NRL, it looks like the Bulldogs signing of Aaron Woods has backfired badly. He’s paid an absolute fortune, especially for a prop and the Bulldogs have realised that offloading an underperforming and overpaid forward will be good business. Newcastle and Cronulla look likely destinations for Woods, possibly even this season. The Doggies have also let Moses Mbye go, again possibly this year, but definitely from 2019 with the Tigers benefitting in that case.
Finally isn’t it great to see Mahe Fonua ripping it up in the NRL? I’m loving all the mentions we’re getting in commentary too, Sterlo on radio this week said that any player that has returned to the NRL from Hull has come back a better player, citing Sam Moa, Colin Best and Mahe as prime examples. All this is grist to the mill the next time we’re in the market for a younger player over here, as they’ll look to Fonua and want to emulate his success.
Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.
Rich – Twitter @pommyrich