Super League side sign “hottest young talent in rugby league” – but what does it mean for their future?

Huddersfield Giants had a brilliant 2022 campaign and look set to go again in 2023 and they’ve now tried to secure the future from 2024 onwards by signing talented young half-back George Flanagan Jr from Bradford Bulls.

Flanagan Jr signs for an undisclosed fee but will return to Bradford for the season as a player but integrate into first-team training at Huddersfield as well.

The fact Flanagan Jr is set to train with the Giants first team as well is no surprise based on his talent level, after all he debuted aged just 17 for Bradford and was brilliant in their 2022 Championship campaign.

However what is interesting is the way he will split time and what it could mean for the future of the Giants and the knock-on effects this signing has on others.

It’s already been announced that Will Pryce will leave at the end of the season and make the switch to the NRL

Current Giants half-back Tui Lolohea will be heading into the second year of his two-year deal which means the 27-year-old will be out of contract come the 2024 season.

Obviously Huddersfield could extend him but Lolohea will head into the 2024 season aged 29 in what could be the prime of his life and a return to the NRL could be on the cards.

Even if a return to the NRL isn’t there’s still the issue of re-signing or extending Lolehea’s contract which could come at considerable expense so there’s potential that Flanagan Jr could find himself slotting into the starting 13 for 2024.

Moreover Will Pryce is heading to the NRL and will leave a large gap in the squad meaning the Giants will be keen to blood Flanagan in early to make up for the loss of two playmakers.

Flanagan training with the first team whilst out on loan also suggests that Ian Watson clearly wants to familiarise him with the squad and Watson has shown faith in young players as exemplified by his trust in Pryce.

With Jake Connor also arriving this season Flanagan could potentially be accommodated in either the full-back or half-back role depending on how he develops given his young age, with Connor more than capable of playing where Flanagan doesn’t.

Managing Director Richard Thewlis has commented that Flanagan will step in for Pryce who is heading to the NRL to join Newcastle Knights alongside Wigan Warriors’ talented Kai Pearce-Paul.

“This is a move with an eye on the longer term and George will replace Will Pryce in next year’s squad. We would like to thank everyone at Bradford for the manner in which this has been approached and this arrangement suits both clubs and the player.

“George is very ambitious to go full-time at the earliest opportunity and this deal allows that, while he will also play the entire 2023 season at the Bulls alongside his father to aid his development in First-Team Rugby League.

“We view his choice to join the Giants in a very positive light as he had his pick of probably every Betfred Super League side, such is his growing reputation and rather than wait we felt it best to move now with permission of the Bulls and secure his future.”

Flanagan himself commented as well: “I’m very excited to be joining the Giants, I can’t wait to get started and to sign for such a big club like Huddersfield, it’s a massive move for me and my family.

“A big part of signing for the giants was Ian Watson and speaking to some of the lads who are at the Giants really made me want to choose this as my next club. The history of the Giants and the squad they are building for the future was also a big pull for me when signing here.

“I will learn plenty from players like Kevin Naiqama, Tui Lolohea and Jake Connor, They are massive names in the game and I hope I can learn from them when training and hopefully playing with them.”

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