May 1st has been and gone and now those out of contract at the end of 2022 are free to talk and negotiate with other clubs.
Having said that, there are a number of major stars still without a club for 2023, so it will be interesting to see what happens between now and the end of the season.
But, which out of contract player must each Super League side keep for next year?
Castleford Tigers – Greg Eden
With Jake Trueman out of contract too, many would probably feel it would be the halfback that takes this mantle. However, Greg Eden should be given another deal at the Jungle. He has become one of Castleford’s most potent weapons in recent seasons and never lets the team down. With an eye for a gap and a wicked turn of pace, Eden can make something out of absolutely nothing which makes him priceless for the Tigers.
Catalans Dragons – Sam Tomkins
It can’t really be anyone else for Catalans. Sam Tomkins has taken to the south of France like a duck takes to water and he has repeatedly spoken about his desire to stay at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. The fullback has been key in the development of fellow number 1 Arthur Mourgue and has been a rock at the back for the Dragons. It’s no surprise that Catalans are now consistently a top side since Tomkins made the move.
Huddersfield Giants – Ricky Leutele
The centre has been one of Huddersfield’s best signings in recent seasons with a superb attacking threat and a big hitter in defence. It seems most probable that Ricky Leutele will be kept on at the John Smith’s Stadium with how highly he is rated by head coach Ian Watson, but anything is possible in rugby league.
Hull FC – Manu Ma’u
The Tongan powerhouse has been a huge hit at the MKM Stadium since making the move from the NRL and is now basically a cult hero amongst the terraces. Manu Ma’u signed a one-year deal in 2021, but head coach Brett Hodgson is a big fan of the second-rower so it’s likely a deal will be signed.
Hull KR – Shaun Kenny-Dowall
When Shaun Kenny-Dowall made the move to Hull KR back in 2020, many felt he was picking up one last pay day. However, that is the complete opposite of the effect that the centre has had at Craven Park. Made captain by head coach Tony Smith, Kenny-Dowall has been one of the most inspiring Super League signings along the board and he is a must to be given a new contract by the Robins.
Leeds Rhinos – Rhyse Martin
Brad Dwyer could make a case for being on this list for Leeds Rhinos, but Rhyse Martin has been a stalwart of the club in recent years and has been there through the good and bad times. The second-rower’s commitment to the cause at Headingley was epitomised when he played just days after the passing of his father – he earned the Man of the Match award in the process and is one of those that goes about his business quietly.
Salford Red Devils – Tim Lafai
Salford Red Devils did a great bit of business bringing in Samoan international Tim Lafai ahead of the 2022 Super League season. And, he has shown just why he is so highly rated with a string of impressive performances to leave Red Devils fans wanting more for the next few years. There will likely be attention on Lafai following his great run of form, but he looks settled at the AJ Bell Stadium.
St Helens – Regan Grace
With Regan Grace reportedly attracting attention from outside rugby league, it would be a hell of a statement if St Helens locked the Welsh flyer down to a longer deal. In recent years, Grace has shot from rookie winger to one of the most complete outside backs in Super League. It would be a major deal for Saints and rugby league if he stayed.
Toulouse Olympique – Guy Armitage
What an impact this man has had in Toulouse! Guy Armitage made the move from rugby union and has well and truly hit his straps in the south of France with Toulouse. He has had to sit out recent weeks due to a broken larynx and the French side have missed his presence in the centres. Would be a coup if they kept hold of him.
Wakefield Trinity – Tom Johnstone
Make no bones about it, keeping Tom Johnstone is the biggest thing Wakefield can do in the transfer market this year. Johnstone is not only an England international quality player, keeping him at Belle Vue would entice other players to make the move to Trinity. Losing Johnstone would be huge for the West Yorkshire side.
Warrington Wolves – Mike Cooper
In a hugely disappointing season for Warrington so far in 2022, one forward has stood out above the rest and that is Mike Cooper. Always one to lead from the front, Cooper has single-handedly brought the Wire pack through the difficult times and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was handed the captaincy if he did sign on.
Wigan Warriors – Bevan French
There is a big case for Sam Powell to be given this spot for Wigan given his consistency in recent year. However, the undeniable skill and talent of Bevan French that has lit up Super League in the past few years cannot be underestimated. It would be a massive sign of intent if the Warriors kept the fullback with French and Jai Field ripping teams to shreds.