Now the RLWC is over it really is time to look forward to the 2018 Super League campaign and, with it, some of the players who have moved to the northern hemisphere competition hoping to guide their team to glory. The likes of Jesse Sene-Lefao and Matt Parcell were two of the best new signings to the competition in 2017 and saw their teams reach the showpiece event of the Super League Grand Final, but who are the players who will be hoping to make a big impact in 2018?
A marquee signing for Warrington and, indeed, Super League in general, Australian Roberts has arrived in Cheshire from NRL’s Gold Coast Titans with the remit of getting The Wire challenging at the right end of the table following a disappointing 2018 campaign. The 26 year old half back will be expected to slot into the halves to be the on field general for The Wolves and, with new coach Steve Price, will be hoping to have a huge impact. Indeed, following on from making 41 appearances in two seasons following a move from Newcastle Knights, Roberts is keen to settle and hit the ground running at the Halliwell Jones, saying that “I’m very excited to be joining Warrington Wolves. My family and I can’t wait.” In addition to that, his commitment and desire is evident through his quote that “I’m excited to rip in and compete for some trophies and meet all the passionate fans,” which will be music to the ears of Warrington fans.
After a hugely impressive year which saw them finish agonisingly short of the end of season play offs, many were wondering whether Wakefield’s 2017 campaign was merely a flash in the pan and questioned whether their form could be taken into next year and, perhaps, gatecrash the play offs. So, the signing of NRL star Pauli Pauli is one which really shows the Wildcats’ intent – to build on 2017. The 23 year old prop headed to Yorkshire from Newcastle Knights following an injury hit campaign last time out and coach Chris Chester is excited about his arrival, saying “I am really looking forward to working with him over the next few years and I am pretty sure he will become a fans favourite.” After signing a one year deal, from a distance it might seem that the forward isn’t committed to the club in the long term but, if he helps Wakefield to a strong 2018 season, all will be well. After not being offered a contract with the Knights after a mid season injury, Pauli will be pleased to have a club fixed up as he looks to have an injury free season – 2017 saw him dislocate his hip and fracture his fibula – and Chester feels that he will be able to have a huge impact, stating that “he will bring some real quality to our go-forward and bring an X factor to our attacking play.” Wakefield fans will certainly hope so!
Perhaps an individual who, after this winter’s RLWC, doesn’t need much of an introduction is Garry Lo of Papua New Guinea and, formerly, Sheffield Eagles. After two impressive seasons with the steel city club, Daryl Powell got the highly coveted signature of Lo from under the noses of a clutch of Super League rivals and you can certainly see why with the pacey winger scoring at a rate of more than a try a match in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Indeed, he was on the scoresheet against Ireland and England for his country in the RLWC and proved to be a very hard man to stop for the Kumuls. It will be very interesting to see how he slots into the Tigers’ set up in 2018 after his new club’s highly impressive campaign last time out and it seems likely that Lo will line up on the opposite wing to last season’s Super League top try scorer, Greg Eden. If the latter can continue with his incredible form from last season and Lo can hit the ground running, Cas may well have not one but two prolific wingers on their flanks.
Following a very disappointing 2017 campaign, new Warrington Wolves coach Steve Price has wasted no time in recruiting strongly in the hope of an improvement in the new year and, along with the aforementioned Roberts, Australian centre Bryson Goodwin is another high quality player who has signed on to star at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in 2018. Following almost 200 NRL appearances over the last decade, the South Sydney Rabbitoh initially signed for Leigh Centurions before their relegation which, in turn, saw the Wolves pick him up from their north west neighbours. Indeed, Goodwin is a player of vast experience which Price will be hoping can boost a team who seem to have lost their way recently but, in a back line with Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham and Ryan Atkins, he will provide another potent attacking threat to add to Warrington’s riches. In Australia, he has a record of scoring a try roughly every three games and the Wire faithful will be hoping that he can trouble opposition defences on a weekly basis as the Wolves seek to return to the upper reaches of the Super League competition.
A player returning back to Yorkshire, Joe Wardle has been featuring for Newcastle Knights in 2017 but will be donning the shirt of the Castleford Tigers in the new year. The former Huddersfield Giant is set to add to a dynamic Cas pack which seemed to be the most creative and effective set of forwards in 2017 as the Wheldon Road club soared to the top of the Super League table. One accusation about the Tigers last season was a lack of depth in the squad and it is fair to say that Daryl Powell has addressed that this winter with new options being signed on in each part of the field and Wardle is one of the most experienced of their new signings. However, at the age of 26 it could be argued that the Halifax born forward is now entering his prime and the Castleford supporters will be hoping that he can make a real impact in 2018.