Super League is set to be hit by a whirlwind of change in the winter. A number of teams are set for huge departures as some come to an end of an era whilst others look to build towards the future and take a step closer to success in 2022. So, with that in mind, here’s the player every team will miss the most next season.
Castleford: Michael Shenton
No matter the calibre of the players coming to the Jungle next season, Jake Mamo is certainly an exciting signing, nor the ready replacement that is Jordan Turner, can ameliorate the loss of Michael Shenton. Since their promotion back to Super League in 2008, Shenton has epitomised Castleford’s defiant rise up the table – except during his small stint at St Helens of course. Shenton announce Castleford’s arrival in Super League with a hat-trick against Leeds in their first win of the season, captained them to a Grand Final and is always a good performer. The Tigers will miss him as a player but they’ll miss him as a man and as a leader.
Catalans: James Maloney
Speaking of leaders, the Dragons will definitely miss the leadership James Maloney brings to the club. A lot has been made of the brilliant performances of Sam Tomkins at fullback, the impressive 28 regular season assists of Josh Drinkwater and the electricity of Arthur Mourgue this year but Maloney brings it all together. His departure will leave a huge hole in their side and will change the make-up of their all-important spine.
Huddersfield: Darnell McIntosh
You could argue that the Giants will miss Aidan Sezer the most next year, after all most clubs would. But they’ve already grown accustomed to his absence and the same could be said of Lee Gaskell. Moreover, they also have Tui Lolohea and Theo Fages coming in and Jack Cogger, Oliver Russell and Will Pryce already in the mix. But they’ve yet to identify a clear-cut replacement for Darnell McIntosh. A mercurial talent with speed and a great scoring ability, the Giants will miss what he brings in attack as well as his versatility playing both at fullback and on the wing.
Hull FC: Bureta Faraimo
McIntosh is a fantastic player and already a superb acquisition for Hull FC, but the performances of Bureta Faraimo in a struggling Hull FC side last year mean they will miss him despite the arrival of McIntosh. Faraimo offered something different on the right edge and is capable of making breaks from deep thanks to his ability to bust tackles and use his footwork and power to go through defenders. Those kind of attributes will always be missed.
Hull KR: Greg Minikin
Another outside back who’s had a terrific season, Greg Minikin’s departure leaves a hole in the Hull KR squad that Tony Smith will want to fill. He and Ben Crooks formed an understated yet effective partnership down the right this term and the Robins will miss that as well as his ability to cover both the centre and wing positions.
Leeds: King Vuniyayawa
This one might seem a touch strange. The Rhinos have lost Rob Lui, Konrad Hurrell and Luke Gale this winter but King Vuniyayawa could still be the biggest loss. Rob Lui and Luke Gale have clear cut replacements of sheer quality in the shape of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer. Meanwhile, Leeds have plenty of centres with Liam Sutcliffe and Jack Broadbent ready to take over from Hurrell next year whilst David Fusitu’a will replace the power Hurrell so often offered out wide. But Leeds don’t have an abundance of props to fill the void Vuniyayawa will leave. A position that has often been riddled with injuries in recent years – just look at their play-off defeat to Catalans in 2020 when they were left with just one prop – and now they have one less player to cover the role. Bodene Thompson could be asked to complete a transition into the front row whilst Leeds could also look to youngster Muizz Mustapha after his loan spell with Hull KR.
Salford: Lee Mossop
A Grand Final winning prop, a leader and a former England international, Mossop gave Salford definite quality and experience down the middle of the field and was central to their amazing journeys to Old Trafford in 2019 and Wembley in 2020. Granted, they’ve brought in some exciting new forwards but they cannot fill the void left by his leadership and experience.
St Helens: Lachlan Coote
Lachlan Coote was forced to fill the boots of a top-class player when he arrived at St Helens in 2019. He took over from Man of Steel Ben Barba but has arguably been even better than the former Canterbury man. In many ways, he was the final piece of the puzzle as the Saints ended a five-year wait for Grand Final glory in 2019. A great organiser with a cutting edge which sees him create tries galore for those out wide, he has pretty much everything you’d want from a fullback. Jack Welsby is an exciting youngster and could soon be a Super League great, but any team in the league would miss Coote. Hull KR fans should be excited about his arrival.
Toulouse: Remi Casty
Remi Casty shone in the Championship last year peaking towards the end of the season producing some inspired performances as the French side secured promotion. One of the best forwards in Super League over the last decade and a great leader, he’s a loss to rugby league as well as Toulouse and certainly a French rugby legend.
Wakefield: Joe Westerman
Joe Westerman was back to his best in 2021 pairing his skills with great physicality. He gave Trinity another dimension down the middle of the field and was even called up into the England squad ahead of England’s match with the Combined Nations. But now set to join West Yorkshire rivals Castleford back where it all began, Trinity will have to find a new way replace the brilliance he offered down the middle of the field last season.
Warrington: Jake Mamo
Few players bring the same kind of energy and positivity Jake Mamo brought to Warrington this season. Thus, he’s a massive loss simply as a character but even more so as a player. Only one man scored more tries than Mamo last season and plenty of his four-pointers were simply exhilarating and from long range. An exciting player, the Wolves will miss him in 2022.
Wigan: Jackson Hastings
Who wouldn’t miss Jackson Hastings? Granted 2021 wasn’t his greatest season, but his effort, leadership and organisational skills were again there for all to see. He guided both Salford and Wigan to Grand Finals and that shows just how he improves those he plays alongside and the Warriors will miss that next term. Arguably, Super League’s best player over the last three years, it’s impossible to argue that he won’t be missed next term.