The halfback merry-go-round: Assessing the moves which saw Sezer, Lolohea, Sneyd and Gale switch clubs

The Halves are perhaps the most important positions in a rugby league side. When you look back at the very best sides in Super League history, they always have a classic halfback at the helm leading them around the field and orchestrating the attack.

That makes it all the more interesting that plenty of Super League clubs have brought in new halfbacks ahead of the 2022 season. Fascinatingly, this includes four clubs who have been bound up in a transfer saga as four halfbacks sparked a transfer merry-go-round. Leeds made a move for Aidan Sezer, prompting Huddersfield to sign Salford’s Tui Lolohea, the hole he left led to Marc Sneyd’s return to the Red Devils and subsequently Hull FC made a move for Leeds’ Luke Gale completing the circle of halfback transfers which could change the complexion of Super League in 2022.

With that in mind, we’re assessing the four transfers which led to this halfback merry-go-round.

Aidan Sezer Huddersfield to Leeds

With the announcement of Rob Lui’s intentions to retire at the end of 2021, Leeds recognised the need to bring in a quality halfback. At the same time, it became clear that Aidan Sezer’s time at Huddersfield could be coming to an end as they began assessing the possibility of signing Theo Fages and Tui Lolohea. The Rhinos exploited this by bringing Sezer in on a two-year deal. A former Man of Steel nominee and one of the top scrum-halves in 2020, Leeds fans were excited by his arrival. There were some who felt he was too similar to Luke Gale but the definite quality possessed by Sezer still made this a major signing one which could very well fire the Rhinos back to the top if he can replicate the form which took Canberra to the 2019 Grand Final. Interestingly, the dynamics of this deal have since changed, which we’ll get to later, but the former Giant’s arrival at Headingley instantly sparked excitement. As for Huddersfield, they were able to move on one of their top earners creating greater space in the salary cap before filling the hole he left with some outstanding players.

Tui Lolohea Salford to Huddersfield

Interestingly, as Sezer headed to Leeds, a former Leeds player helped fill the void left by the former Canberra man at Huddersfield. Tui Lolohea struggled at Leeds but under Ian Watson at Salford, the Tongan excelled showing the exhilarating skillset at his disposal on the outside of organisers Jackson Hastings and Kevin Brown. Watson clearly brought the best out of him as he played his role in guiding the Red Devils to Old Trafford and Wembley in consecutive seasons, so it seems working under Watson at Huddersfield could again bring the best out of him next term. His departure meanwhile allows the Red Devils to totally overhaul the make-up of their spine. Lolohea is at his best on the outside of an out and out organiser and with Kevin Brown retiring, he was set to lose that at Salford so it made sense for the Red Devils to look in an entirely new direction as he reunited with his former boss at Huddersfield. He should form an exciting combination with fellow new recruit Theo Fages.

Marc Sneyd Hull FC to Salford

As Salford looked in a new direction, they brought in two classy halfbacks both of whom are capable of organising and creating. They signed former Melbourne star Brodie Croft before completing a shock move for former Salford man Marc Sneyd. It could be a fairytale ending to Sneyd’s career, after all he started his career at Salford before he took Super League by storm at Castleford in 2014 and then at Hull FC for an outstanding seven seasons. Still with some good rugby ahead of him, he and Croft should form quite the combination next term. The move should also benefit Hull FC. No matter Sneyd’s quality sometimes a change is needed to freshen things up and the Black and Whites are making that happen.

Luke Gale Leeds to Hull FC

They did that by bringing in Luke Gale from Leeds. Gale’s place at Leeds had drastically changed since the announcement of Sezer’s signing. He lost the captaincy after a fallout with Richard Agar and Leeds’ move for Blake Austin meant he was no longer guaranteed game time. With a World Cup around the corner, he felt he needed that and took on the exciting opportunity of replacing Sneyd at the ambitious Hull FC. A brilliant organiser who always brings the best out of fullbacks, he should form an exciting combination with the superb Jake Connor. Meanwhile, Leeds have opened up more space on the salary cap which they could use to give new deals to their young stars. Meanwhile, Austin and Sezer is perhaps a better balanced halfback pairing than Gale and Sezer due to Austin’s running game, after all Sezer and Gale are regarded as similar players. The friendship between Sezer and Austin also means the two should hit the ground running in 2022.

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