Arriving at a new club brings pressure naturally, but the circumstances of the arrival can often add even more pressure. With a number of high-profile signings across Super League and a number of somewhat surprising moves as well, plenty of the off-season signings will feel they have a point to prove going into the new campaign. So, with that in mind, we’re looking at six Super League signings with something to prove next season.
Theo Fages can lay claim to playing his part in one of Super League’s greatest ever teams. He was outstanding at St Helens and seemingly got better and better year on year. But moving to a club who haven’t won a major final during the Super League era brings massive pressure. No longer will he have the trustworthy Jonny Lomax at his side, the brilliant Lachlan Coote behind him and James Roby at hooker to make his life easier. Now, this is not a disservice to the spine at Huddersfield who boast a lot of talent, but there’s no doubt that Fages comes in with a title-winning pedigree which makes him the main man at Huddersfield. He’ll be tasked with turning the Giants into a play-off side for the first time since 2015. Plus, there’s the added pressure of filling the void left by the brilliant Aidan Sezer who was outstanding for the Giants in 2020. Fages will be expecting big things of himself next year and will hope to make Saints rue his departure.
Another halfback on the move across Super League, Blake Austin will feel he has a point to prove both to his former club and his new one. He’ll want to show Warrington that they should’ve kept his partnership with Gareth Widdop alive rather than bringing in George Williams whilst he’ll no doubt want to prove to the Rhinos that they made the right decision handing him the number six jersey and letting Luke Gale leave who himself will have something to prove as he joins Hull FC next year hoping to turn them into a play-off side once again. Meanwhile, giving Austin even more added incentive is the fact he’s only on a one-year deal. He’ll want to secure his future going forward
As will Konrad Hurrell who leaves Leeds to take up a one-year deal at St Helens, so he too will have something to prove with his future again up in the air going into 2022. On top of that, he’ll want to prove to his national coach and now club coach Kristian Woolf that he should be starting for the Champions despite the brilliance of Mark Percival and fellow new signing Will Hopoate. The fact he has a chance to secure his place in Tonga’s World Cup squad by impressing Woolf will give him further incentive as will the prospect of recapturing his 2019 form after he failed to play at his absolute best in 2021 with Leeds due to a number of frustrating injuries.
When Tom Lineham burst onto the scene at Hull FC, he was one of the most sought-after young backs in the league and Warrington were elated to secure his signature. Despite the fact he boasts a good strike record in primrose and blue having scored some memorable tries especially in both the Challenge Cup and Super League semi-finals of 2018, he’s been let go by the Wire as a new era beckons. That’s allowed him to return to Yorkshire where he’ll hope to kick on at Wakefield and prove that he still is one of the top wingers in Super League and that the Wolves should’ve done more to keep him at the Halliwell Jones.
Coming the other direction from West Yorkshire to the Halliwell Jones, Peter Mata’utia will feel the pressure every new signing at Warrington no doubt feels as they look to finally end their wait for Super League glory. But the fact he’ll inherit Greg Inglis’ number three shirt whilst filling the void left by Jake Mamo – who will replace Mata’utia at Castleford – will provide him with further incentive to shine at Warrington in 2022 especially after Mamo’s impressive 2021 campaign in which he scored 16 league tries a record only second to Ken Sio.
When Cooper Cronk left Melbourne for Sydney at the end of 2017, few in Victoria were worried. In the previous season, Brodie Croft had filled in at times and was excellent nailing a match winning drop goal against North Queensland and scoring a hat-trick against Newcastle. Seen as the next Cooper Cronk, Melbourne put their faith in him and it seemed well placed when he ripped Leeds apart in the 2018 World Club Challenge with a try and a number of assists. But things stalled after that especially when he lost to Cronk in the 2018 Grand Final. In 2019, he was dropped after 21 games and then allowed to leave to make space on the salary cap. He joined a struggling Brisbane side in 2020 and failed to turn their plight around so a move to Super League as he joins Salford is a chance for him to prove to those down under that he should’ve been given more time at Melbourne. There’s also an expectation that he could be Salford’s next Jackson Hastings due to his similar style of play and a similar story before joining the Red Devils. That will only give him more incentive to shine in Super League as will the return of Marc Sneyd. Next to a quality halfback like Sneyd, Croft should shine and the duo are expected to form an exciting partnership next season.