In rugby league, transfer fees aren’t as common as they are in football.
Often clubs simply sign players at the end of their contracts but there are some instances where big transfer fees have been paid for big name players.
Recently we saw Wests Tigers pay £250,000 for Wigan Warriors’ John Bateman but in the past big fees have been paid by Super League clubs for Super League stars.
So, here’s five of the biggest fees paid in Super League history:
Zak Hardaker – Leeds Rhinos to Castleford Tigers (2017)
Hardaker was put on the unwanted list at Headingley due to his action off the pitch. Castleford took a punt on the troubled full-back as they signed him on loan prior to paying a £150,000 fee, a move that looked like great value as the season unfolded. Castleford stormed to their first ever League Leaders’ Shield and looked unstoppable, only for Hardaker to fail a drugs test on the eve of the Grand Final as Castleford ironically lost to Leeds at Old Trafford.
Martin Gleeson – St Helens to Warrington Wolves (2004)
After his involvement in the infamous 2004 betting scandal, Saints sold Martin Gleeson to Warrington for £200,000. The Great Britain centre had become Super League’s best centre prior to the move and the transfer underlined the Wolves intent to challenge for honours. Gleeson quickly repaid the club record transfer by scoring 17 tries in his first season, which concluded with his inclusion in the Super League Dream Team.
Iestyn Harris – Warrington Wolves to Leeds Rhinos (1997)
Leeds brought the Welsh Wizard to Headingley from Warrington for a record fee of £350,000 in 1997. Soon enough Harris was a hero to the Rhinos faithful as he captained the club in his first full season at the age of 21. He was named Man of Steel in 1998 before leading Leeds to Wembley glory in 1999 and the inaugural Grand Final a year earlier. His high-profile exit to rugby union came in 2001 when he joined Cardiff RFC for £1.5m.
Stuart Fielden – Bradford Bulls to Wigan Warriors (2006)
Fielden’s move to Wigan came at a time when he was rated as one of the world’s best props in a dominant Bradford team. The Warriors were struggling in Super League and flirting with relegation before the Great Britain forward arrived for a world record fee of £450,000. Fielden helped steer them to safety but it was revealed the following season that the big-money transfer sent Wigan over the salary cap, resulting in a four-point deduction in 2007. Incredibly, just four years after his arrival at the club, Wigan were Super League champions by the end of the 2010 season.
Paul Sculthorpe – Warrington Wolves to St Helens (1997)
In the same season they lost Iestyn Harris, Warrington also sold future back-to-back Man of Steel winner and Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe to St Helens for £375,000. He quickly became a legend at Saints and was the competition’s best player for a sustained period, winning every domestic honour available. The Wolves decision to let Sculthorpe leave is probably one they still regret to this day.