Leeds Rhinos announced the major signings of Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers from Salford Red Devils yesterday (October 18) after much speculation that the duo would be moving to Headingley.
The Rhinos have had great difficulty in filling the number six shirt since the departure of Danny McGuire following his Man of the Match display against Castleford Tigers in the 2017 Super League Grand Final.
In that game, Joel Moon had partnered McGuire in the halves and Leeds elected to give him the number six shirt in 2018 in a move that wouldn’t have the desired effect.
Their next move was for Tui Lolohea but as Leeds found themselves in a relegation scrap, the Rhinos arranged a swap deal for Rob Lui at Salford Red Devils.
Lui would help steer Leeds away from relegation and in 2020 be an integral part of guiding the Rhinos to Challenge Cup Final success.
At the end of 2021, he would retire with the Rhinos signing Blake Austin to replace him.
It is well documented how Austin had an up and down time at Headingley. Some of his performances, namely against Huddersfield Giants in 2023, were near unplayable.
But as he put pressure on the club for a long term deal, talks fell down and he was allowed to join Castleford Tigers.
His next move is at present unknown but Leeds now have a stand-off who many feel can live up to the standards McGuire set in the 15 years he held the number six shirt at Headingley.
The Rhinos paid £200,000 for Croft and the stand-off is said to be on a three-year deal worth $2 million. This comes after Leeds lured Croft from his eight-year deal with Salford.
It was widely known that Croft had NRL clauses in his contract at Salford and it was speculated whether or not that would be the case in his Leeds deal.
Reports in Australia suggest Croft does have an NRL release clause in his deal and Serious About Rugby League can confirm that this is the case, but the clause only comes into effect after two years.
This means Croft will be at Headingley until 2025 and could be at the club until 2026 with this current contract, news that will be music to the ears of many Rhinos fans as they hope the Australian can hit the ground running.
Having finished eighth last season, there is a strong expectation at Leeds for the 2024 campaign with supporters of the club demanding an improvement as they seek to challenge for honours again.
Knowing Croft will be at the club for the next two seasons will surely only increase the chances of silverware again returning to Headingley, with Gary Hetherington and Rohan Smith doing everything they can to try bring the glory days back to the Rhinos.