Since bursting onto the scene with a try on debut in the Wigan and Saints derby back in 2017, Regan Grace has established himself as one of the best wingers in Super League.
Now a three-time Super League Champion, a two-time League Leaders’ Shield winner and a Challenge Cup winner, Grace’s time in Super League is coming to an end after months of speculation.
This comes as St Helens confirm he will join rugby union side Racing 92 at the end of the season. A great player who is like no one else in Super League, how will St Helens replace a player of his quality? That’s the question we’re answering today with four options for St Helens to consider for 2023.
Tempt a Super League rival
There is no better club to join now than St Helens. They’re the three times reigning Champions and on course for a fourth title despite some key loses such as to Lewis Dodd. They’re top of the league and their domination doesn’t appear to be slowing down. So, almost any winger in Super League could be tempted to join them as Grace’s replacement. Castleford’s Greg Eden is still available should Saints want to take a punt on the free scoring left sided winger. Unfortunately for the Champions it seems they’ve missed out on the ideal replacement in Tom Johnstone who is set to join Catalans. Perhaps the versatile Jake Wardle who has recently joined Warrington on loan should be an option too.
Dip into the NRL market
St Helens have enjoyed plenty of success in terms of NRL signings recently. Lachlan Coote, Sione Mata’utia, Will Hopoate, Joey Lussick, Kevin Naiqama and Curtis Sironen to name a few. By turning to this market again, they could find a ready made replacement for Grace with bags of experience. However, the Saints at present have filled all of their quota spots so would have to offload one of their current stars to do so which seems unlikely at present.
The Tongan connection
It could quite easily be argued that this problem could be solved without recruitment. Konrad Hurrell’s St Helens future is secured and he has shone at the club this year establishing himself at right centre whilst Tongan teammate Will Hopoate has bounced around a number of positions. Hopoate has years of experience playing on the wing in the NRL. So, perhaps the best move would be to turn him into a winger and trust Konrad Hurrell as the first choice right centre. Saints have depth in this area through the likes of Ben Davies, Josh Simm and Jon Bennison. Speaking of which…
The Saints way
The Saints way has always been to pull another player off the production line and Regan Grace’s replacement could be the latest one off that production line in Jon Bennison. He’s played really well on the wing and at fullback this year and is elusive and agile like Grace. By trusting him with the number five jersey, Saints would be preparing for the next decade and not just next season.