Building a Super League ‘Dream Team’ with one signing from each club

Super League is just two weeks from kicking off and on the whole the pre-season and preparation is all done with teams having assembled their squads and primed to go for 2023.

With that said it’s time to look back at some of the signings of the off-season and what better way than to compile a team built just using new signings for the upcoming season.

The only requirement for the squad is that every Super League side must have minimum one starter, with one side featuring two to make the 13 man starting line-up.

Full-back: Jake Connor – Huddersfield Giants

A tough position to pick and it generally came down to Jake the Snake or his replacement, NRL star Tex Hoy, but Connor’s proven track record in Super League takes it. Add in the fact that he’s the signing that could take the Giants over the edge to build on their 2022 season, it means Connor takes the number one shirt in this team.

Winger: Tee Ritson – St Helens

When you’ve won the title four years in a row you don’t need to make many signings really, as exemplified by Saints making just two with Tee Ritson signing from Barrow Raiders and Wesley Bruines from the NRL. It’s the 27-year-old Ritson that makes this squad though, bringing a chart-topping 28 tries from his previous Championship campaign following 22 in 15 in League One the year prior.

Centre: Jake Wardle – Wigan Warriors

Before the recent acquisition of Ryan Hampshire the Challenge Cup holders had signed just two players with both being centres. Wardle joins from Huddersfield following a spell on loan with the Wire, whilst Toby King joins from the Wire having been on loan at Huddersfield. Wardle gets the nod in this team though based on that form where he scored six in 11 in 2022.

Centre: Nene Macdonald – Leeds Rhinos

A second player in the team who has joined from the Championship is Papua New Guinea star Nene Macdonald. The league has seen a huge influx of centres and with Wigan being almost mandatory at the position given their limited recruitment, it left Macdonald battling it out with the likes of Tom Opacic, Adam Keighran, Samisoni Langi, Ricky Leutele, and Liam Sutcliffe. The PNG man takes the slot though as he links up with former coach Rohan Smith following an impressive 26 tries in 27 games in 2022.

Winger: Tom Johnstone – Catalans Dragons

Johnstone signed to partner Fouad Yaha but with the Frenchman out injured for up to five months following shoulder surgery, the former Wakefield man will have to find his try-scoring form quickly in Perpignan. Across his Super League career he’s registered 81 tries in 106, which is incredibly impressive but fitness has been a problem at times, having not played more than 20 games in a season since 2018.

Stand-off: Gareth Widdop – Castleford Tigers

Castleford have revamped their halves for the coming season and adding in the veteran Widdop is some incredibly smart business, with the former NRL star signing a two-year deal at the Jungle. Never quite finding his peak form at Warrington, maybe he enjoys an Indian summer style career resurgence with Castleford. Both he and the scrum-half also offer position flexibility.

Scrum-half: Josh Drinkwater – Warrington Wolves

Widdop’s replacement slots into the seven shirt but it could have just as easily been Hull FC’s new Australian, Jake Clifford. Drinkwater takes the shirt though based on his Super League experience with the 30-year-old having had successful spells at multiple Super League sides, although he’ll likely be playing six for the Wire given the presence of a certain George Williams.

Prop: Renouf Atoni – Wakefield Trinity

Wakefield haven’t done lots of business but what they have done looks good with this man being the pick of the bunch. Joining from the NRL he brings plenty of power and size to a pack that had lost the likes of David Fifita, James Batchelor, Tinirau Arona and Yusuf Aydin. Trinity fans will love what they’ve seen in pre-season with hard running as well as a knack for a try.

Hooker: Brad Dwyer – Hull FC

The reason the two NRL boys from Hull FC got ignored was down to this man and he earns his spot here following a blistering pre-season. Losing to Sheffield Eagles, Dwyer came on and changed the game and whilst he wont usurp Danny Houghton at the MKM he’s more than deserving of the nine shirt here. An incredibly versatile player and one of a handful of signings this off-season who can play the role with Nathan Peats being the real opposition, but Connor fulfilled Huddersfield’s shirt in this team,

Prop: Rhys Kennedy

Hull KR brought in three NRL signings when new manager Willie Peters took over and whilst Tom Opacic has shone in their one pre-season game, it’s Rhys Kennedy who came with the major reputation. At six foot six he brings plenty of size to Peters’ side replacing the likes of Albert Vete whilst offering more youth at the position at just 28 compared to 30-year-old Vete.

Second-Row: Jack Hughes – Leigh Leopards

For new boys Leigh it was tough to pick a player given the huge recruitment drive they’ve undergone. Players like Zak Hardaker, Ricky Leutele and Tom Briscoe were all considerations but the former Wire skipper gets the shirt. Playing over 150 games for Warrington he’s a very accomplished second-rower that packs a punch.

Second-Row: Josh McGuire – Warrington Wolves

The second Wire player in this team is Josh McGuire and he just managed to beat out his new teammates. The likes of Sam Kasiano, Paul Vaughan and Gil Dudson could have all staked a claim here but selecting a World Cup winner is a no-brainer. It’s been almost six years since that victory but the 32-year-old is used to playing all over the pack and mixing it at the highest level in the NRL.

Loose Forward: Oliver Partington – Salford Red Devils

The final team in the puzzle is Salford and 24-year-old Partington takes the place. Despite his youth he’s managed to put together almost 100 games for Wigan and he now joins Paul Rowley’s side to replace Elijiah Taylor. Being given the 13 shirt by Salford highlights he’s set to be key for the Devils in 2023 and he rounds out this team perfectly.

1: Jake Connor
2: Tee Ritson
3: Jake Wardle
4: Nene Macdonald
5: Tom Johnstone
6: Gareth Widdop
7: Josh Drinkwater
8: Renouf Atoni
9: Brad Dwyer
10: Rhys Kennedy
11: Jack Hughes
12: Josh McGuire
13: Oliver Partington

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