It’s been a very busy off-season across all of rugby league but in the Championship there’s been a huge number of signings, including plenty of former Super League and international players.
The signing of Luke Gale for the 2022 League One Champions, Keighley Cougars, was the transfer that rocked the rugby league world the most but there’s still been plenty of other huge moves among the 14 team division.
Here’s each side’s most significant signing for 2023.
Barrow’s major loss has been Tee Ritson with the tricky winger having left for St Helens. That’s 28 tries that the Raiders need to replace and the man that they’ve signed best suited to do that is Greg Worthington with the centre having joined from Halifax Panthers.
Batley shocked the Championship by making it all the way to the Million Pound Game in 2022 but going again in 2023 will be tough following the loss of talented full-back Luke Hooley who has left for Leeds Rhinos. To replace the young Hooley, Batley have turned to experience and signed Elliot Kear who can play across the back five but will potentially feature at full-back for the Bulldogs having played at Bradford last season.
Bradford have had huge turnover with double digits signing for the Bulls as well as leaving Odsal. Maybe not the player who will perform most on the field, but certainly the man who will galvanise the Bulls for a promotion push, is Michael Lawrence with the Huddersfield Giants’ legend finally leaving the John Smith’s stadium. One extra player who will certainly add to them on the field is Brad Walker with the talented youngster joining from Leeds Rhinos following a loan stint at Hull FC.
Featherstone have also made some huge recruitment, not forgetting the appointment of head coach Sean Long as well, but the addition of young French star Mathieu Cozza from Catalans Dragons will be huge for Rovers. Having worked with Long in the French set-up previously he’ll set the tone for the side that are favourites for promotion.
The Panthers have somehow managed to scoop up Italian World Cup star Jake Maizen who joins from having played in Australia. Maizen is only 25 but at the World Cup he tallied four tries in his three games and he’ll operate on the opposite wing to Lachlan Walmsley who scored 28 tries last season, to make a devastating back-line.
Obviously the answer here is Luke Gale, a former Man of Steel winner moving down to Championship level is always going to feature in a list like this. Another former Super League talent is Ben Crooks who Keighley have managed to pry from Hull KR. A very impressive window for the 2022 League One invincibles.
The Broncos haven’t added lots but they’re recruited from within the division with means they’re bringing in players who can compete at the level and also serves to weaken their opposition. Perhaps the most significant is the permanent move to get Sam Davis from York City Knights, with the hooker having featured on loan for the Broncos last season.
Thunder are another side who have made plenty of signings and they’ve added plenty of players who appeared at the World Cup. One of them was Alex Young who featured for Jamaica with the winger joining from Jamaica. Young is the brother of England World Cup star Dom Young so will hope to make a huge impression just like his brother did.
The Eagles have managed to add 21-year-old Lewis Peachey from Super League side Castleford Tigers with the prop having gained plenty of playing time at Newcastle on loan in 2022. Peachey debuted in the Super League at just 18-years-old and 28 days so clearly has plenty of talent if Sheffield can nurture it.
Swinton have made the move for a local Super League youngster with Myles Harrop making the short journey over from Salford to join the Lions. The 24-year-old winger debuted in 2022 for the Red Devils but will hopefully prosper and get more game time in the Championship with the team who gained promotion in 2022.
The French side have lost a hell of a lot of talented players with the likes of Tony Gigot, Matty Russell, Justin Sangare, Mitch Garbett, Chris Hankinson and Romain Navarrete among others have left Toulouse. Their biggest pick-up and the player that covers an area where they’ve lost plenty is the 30-year-old prop Sitaleki Akauola who has signed from Salford, having previously played for Warrington.
The Cumbrian side have scouted a lot outside of England and one of the players they’ve picked up is Lachlan Lanskey who joins from Queensland Cup team Brisbane Tigers. Haven had picked up former Saints hooker Josh Eaves, but he’s since left to join Swinton, meaning Lanskey who has appeared for Queensland under-18s will be the team’s key player.
Widnes have signed plenty with Kyle Amor joining being the biggest name but winger Kieran Dixon arriving from Leigh will add plenty to this side. Dixon has raw pace and will extend the field with his play on the wing whilst also potentially slotting in at full-back.
22-year-old Ronan Michael joins York having played on loan for the team last year. During that period the prop impressed so much that he received a call-up for Ireland at the recent World Cup where he impressed again. Michael boasts 6 caps for Ireland despite his young age showing he’ll bring maturity to a side under new coaching.