Player transfers have dominated this off-season and the main changes have been controversial. Transfers have always been part of sport, rugby league and super league but over the years some of these transfers have been very, very controversial:
Gary Connolly- St Helens to Wigan (1993)
Despite it being firmly tongue in cheek nowadays, Saints fans still call Connolly ‘Judas’ to this day. He joined bitter rivals Wigan for a fee of £250,000 that rose to £500,000 when all the add-ons were tailed up. As you can tell by his nickname, the transfer didn’t go down well with his hometown club but Connolly, a centre, went on to make 309 appearances scoring 546 points in the process as well as winning one title and two league leaders shields in his first five years for the warriors.
Paul Cooke- Hull FC to Hull KR (2007)
With the exception of Albert Kelly recently, it is very rare that a player moves directly between the two fierce rivals. He was unhappy with the improved contract at FC so took it upon himself to walk out on the club. Following this was plenty of toing and froing between the clubs as well as Cooke’s legal team and the RFL. The outcome of this was the move to Rovers taking place and a week later he made his debut. However, in November 2007 an RFL tribunal found Cooke guilty of misconduct for speaking to KR while under contract at the KC stadium. He was banned for the first six matches of the following season. Cooke then went on to spend three years at the club.
Joel Moon- Salford Red Devils to Leeds Rhinos (2012)
Joel Moon’s move to the Rhinos was a very, very strange transfer and one that left Salford furious. He was impressive in his one season with the Red Devils before stating that he was ‘homesick’ and wanted a move back to Australia in the NRL. Salford agreed to this but by mid-November he had signed for Leeds. His former sides coach, Phil Veivers, was raging at the decision and made it known to everyone: “He said he was homesick. I haven’t checked the map but I presume Leeds must be closer to Sydney than Salford is,” said Vievers, after discovering his move to Headingley. “I met up with Joel in Australia, where he stated his commitment to our cause. Since I’ve returned to the UK, I’ve heard nothing but excuses as to why he wasn’t on the plane.”
Kevin Brown- Widnes to Warrington (2016)
After Chris Sandow left the club this left Warrington in a situation. They could either promote young star Dec Patton into the number seven jersey or recruit externally and they opted to poached Kevin Brown from arch rivals Widnes. The Wolves approached the Vikings and an undisclosed fee was agreed (rumoured to be £120000) on a two year deal. The deal was met with mixed reactions from Wire fans with the majority against the signing due to his age but Tony Smith has reassured his new signing by handing the England international the number six jersey for the season. The Cheshire derby will be interesting this season!
Denny Solomona- Castleford to Sale (2016)
This has been one of the main stories of the rugby league off-season. Solomona scored a record-breaking 37th try in a single season in Castleford’s Super 8s win over Catalans. The try broke a 12-year record held by former dual-international, Lesley Vainikolo. Solomona finished the season with a total of 40 tries. However, in September it was reported that a number of Aviva Premiership Clubs were interested in the Samoan international.
It emerged that Sale were the front runners for Solomona. After the season ended, Solomona tried to push through a move to the Sharks despite him having 2 years left on his contract with Castleford. As time went on the rumours increased and it become obvious that Solomona wasn’t going to be at the Tigers for the 2017 season, much to the disgust of fans. On the 8th November, Cas released a statement saying they will pursue legal action in regards to the issue. And just this week, the 13th December, Sale announced the signing of the winger.
It will be interesting to see how this one develops but as a rugby league fanatic I hope Cas receive some sort of compensation after the ignorance shown towards them by Solomona.