Guardian sports reporter Matt Turner looks across the league and picks out a key signing for each of Warrington Wolves’ Super League rivals…

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

NIALL EVALDS

Position: Full-back

Signed from: Salford Red Devils

Evalds has gone from rising star to established Super League big-hitter over the past couple of years, featuring prominently among the competition’s top try-scorers.

Blessed with searing pace to aid him both in attack and defence, the Tigers moved to secure him in a bid to solve a full-back position that has become a bit of a revolving door for them arguably since Luke Dorn’s retirement in 2016.

Adding to a spine that already includes reigning Man of Steel Paul McShane and half-backs Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson, Cas fans will be hoping Evalds will help them rebound back into play-off contention after a disappointing 2020.

Other signings: Suaia Matagi, Jordan Turner (both Huddersfield Giants), Lewis Bienek (Hull FC), Gareth O’Brien (Toronto Wolfpack loan to permanent)

Departures: Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Bailey Hodgson (Newcastle Knights), Lewis Carr (Dewsbury Rams), Calum Turner (Newcastle Thunder), Matt Cook (Widnes Vikings), Joe Summers, Jacob Doyle, Junior Moors (all Featherstone Rovers)

Warrington Guardian: Niall Evalds in action for Salford. Picture by SWPix.comNiall Evalds in action for Salford. Picture by SWPix.com

CATALANS DRAGONS

GIL DUDSON

Position: Prop

Signed from: Salford Red Devils

With skipper Remi Casty departing as well as Sam Moa, Mika Simon and Antoni Maria, the Dragons were in need of front-row enforcements.

Step forward Dudson – the Welsh international who has been a pivotal part of a dream two years for the Red Devils.

Now, focus will turn to seeing if they can keep star centre Israel Folau at the club, with reports continuing to link him with a move to French rugby union

Other signings: Mike McMeeken (Castleford Tigers)

Departures: Antoni Maria (Lezignan), Lucas Albert (Carcassone), Remi Casty (Toulouse Olympique), Sam Moa, Mika Simon (all released), David Mead (Brisbane Broncos), Gavin Marguerite (Villeneuve), Lewis Tierney (Leigh Centurions)

Warrington Guardian: Gil Dudson has joined Catalan Dragons. Picture by SWPix.comGil Dudson has joined Catalan Dragons. Picture by SWPix.com

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

IAN WATSON

Position: Head coach

Signed from: Salford Red Devils

I have gone outside the box on this one as I believe the Giants’ most important recruit is the one that will take up position in the coaching box.

After transforming Salford Red Devils’ fortunes, Watson admitted the lure of Huddersfield’s potential was too much to resist after turning down the chance to coach Hull FC.

With new additions such as half-back Jack Cogger, centre Ricky Leutele and Great Britain international Josh Jones to add to the likes of Aidan Sezer and Jake Wardle among others, Huddersfield look a thoroughly decent bet for at least a play-off berth.

Other signings: Jack Ashworth (St Helens), James Cunningham, Ricky Leutele (both Toronto Wolfpack), George Roby (Warrington Wolves), Jack Cogger (Canterbury Bulldogs), Joe Greenwood (Wigan Warriors), Josh Jones (Hull FC), Luke Yates (Salford Red Devils)

Departures: Suaia Matagi, Jordan Turner, (both Castleford Tigers), Dom Young (Newcastle Knights), Reiss Butterworth (Dewsbury Rams), Adam Walne (Barrow Raiders), Travis Corion (Sheffield Eagles), Ben Tibbs (Halifax), Tom Holmes (Featherstone Rovers), Innes Senior (Wakefield Trinity, loan)

Warrington Guardian: Ian Watson is the new Huddersfield Giants head coach. Picture by SWPix.comIan Watson is the new Huddersfield Giants head coach. Picture by SWPix.com

HULL FC:

JOSH REYNOLDS

Position: Half back

Signed from: Wests Tigers

This was an easy one as thus far, Reynolds is the Black and Whites’ only on-field new addition for 2021.

Former Wire full-back Brett Hodgson is their new coach as the Airlie Birds aim to finally fulfil their ambition of challenging for the Super League crown.

If Reynolds’ partnership with scrum-half Marc Sneyd can fire off the back of an aggressive, mobile set of forwards, they may just do that.

Departures: Ratu Naulago (Bristol rugby union), Lewis Bienek (Castleford Tigers), Liam Harris (Halifax), Ryan Johnson (Sheffield Eagles), Kieran Buchanan (Batley Bulldogs), Gareth Ellis (retired), Albert Kelly, Charlie Patterson-Lund, Charlie Graham (all released), Josh Jones (Huddersfield Giants)

HULL KR:

BRAD TAKAIRANGI

Position: Second row

Signed from: Paramatta Eels

Picking out a highlight recruit for Rovers was much more difficult as they appear to have made a number of impressive signings.

Bringing England’s record try-scorer Ryan Hall back from the NRL stands out but I’ve gone for Takairangi – a player I really like and one I was hoping to see in a Warrington shirt as a replacement for the departed Ben Murdoch-Masila.

Alas, the skilful Cook Islander will be trotting out in red and white in 2021 and his versatility – he has also been known to operate in the centres and the halves – will be a useful asset.

Other signings: Albert Vete (Melbourne Storm), Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters), Korbin Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), Muizz Mustapha (Leeds Rhinos, loan), Luis Johnson (Warrington Wolves)

Departures: Jamie Ellis, Matty Gee, Ryan Brierley, Nathaniel Peteru (all Leigh Centurions), Mitch Garbutt (Toulouse Olympique), Dan Murray (Halifax), Adam Rooks (Bradford Bulls), Will Oakes (Dewsbury Rams), Elliot Wallis (Bradford Bulls, loan), Kyle Trout, Weller Hauraki (both released), Robbie Mulhern (Warrington Wolves)

Warrington Guardian: Brad Takairangi. Picture by Brendon Ratnayake/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.comBrad Takairangi. Picture by Brendon Ratnayake/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.com

LEEDS RHINOS

ZANE TETEVANO

Position: Prop

Signed from: Penrith Panthers

This one will really sting for Wire fans as Tetevano was on the club’s radar last year before deciding on a switch to Penrith.

After helping them to the NRL Grand Final, the New Zealand international has decided the time is right to have a crack at Super League and the Rhinos have snapped him up in what is a real coup for them.

An enormously powerful front row, Tetevano’s presence in a pack containing a mixture of established players and up-and-coming youngsters should help Richard Agar’s Challenge Cup holders build on a promising 2020.

Other signings: Bodene Thompson (Toronto Wolfpack, loan to permanent), King Vuniyayawa (New Zealand Warriors)

Departures: Adam Cuthbertson (York City Knights), Rhys Evans (Bradford Bulls), Wellington Albert (Keighley Cougars), Tyler Dupree (Oldham), Harvey Spence (Featherstone Rovers), Muizz Mustapha (Hull KR, loan), Stevie Ward, Dom Crosby (both retired), Ava Seumanufagai (released)

Warrington Guardian: Zane Tetevano in action for New Zealand against Great Britain in 2019. Picture by Martin Hunter/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.comZane Tetevano in action for New Zealand against Great Britain in 2019. Picture by Martin Hunter/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.com

LEIGH CENTURIONS

JAMES BELL

Position: Loose forward

Signed from: Toulouse Olympique

Head coach John Duffy called it “a sensational signing” when Bell put pen-to-paper on a deal to join the Centurions.

That was before they were announced as Super League’s 12th club for this year, but he will be a key man if they are to make the step up successfully.

A more traditional, ball-playing 13, Bell has five Scotland caps under his belt and starred for them during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Other signings: Jamie Ellis, Matty Gee, Ryan Brierley, Nathaniel Peteru (all Hull KR), Adam Sidlow, Joe Mellor, Matty Russell, Blake Wallace (all Toronto Wolfpack), Ben Flower, Craig Mullen (both Wigan Warriors), Keanan Brand (Warrington Wolves, loan), Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons).

Departures: Martyn Ridyard, Liam Forsyth, Sam Brooks (all Swinton Lions), Gregg McNally (Whitehaven), Ben Reynolds (Toulouse Olympique), Callum Field (Featherstone Rovers), Ryan Ince (Oldham), Brad Holroyd (Workington Town), Adam Walker (released), Danny Addy (Salford Red Devils), Ryan Shaw (Barrow Raiders).

Warrington Guardian: NZ Maori Residents captain James Bell. Picture by Brett Phibbs /Photosport.nz/SWpix.comNZ Maori Residents captain James Bell. Picture by Brett Phibbs /Photosport.nz/SWpix.com

SALFORD RED DEVILS:

ELIJAH TAYLOR

Position: Loose forward

Signed from: Wests Tigers

Having lost influential coach Ian Watson and several key players, it looks like being a season of rebuilding for Salford under their new leader – the former Warrington Wolves assistant coach Richard Marshall.

Signings such as Taylor will really help them – a vastly experienced NRL forward who has represented New Zealand internationally 11 times.

He is only 30 so should still have plenty left in the tank and he will help bring on some of the younger players in the Red Devils side.

Other signings: Morgan Escare, Joe Burgess (both Wigan Warriors), Sebastine Ikahihifo, Oliver Roberts (both Huddersfield Giants, loan), Sam Luckley (Newcastle Thunder), Matty Costello (St Helens), Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves), Jack Wells (Wigan Warriors), Danny Addy (Leigh Centurions), Darcy Lussick (Toronto Wolfpack), Declan Patton (Warrington Wolves)

Departures: Joey Lussick (Parramatta Eels), Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers), Gil Dudson (Catalans Dragons), Connor Jones, Kris Welham (both Featherstone Rovers), Luis Roberts (Swinton Lions), Mark Flanagan (retired), Luke Yates (Huddersfield Giants), Ed Chamberlain (London Broncos, loan)

Warrington Guardian: Elijah Taylor. Martin Hunter/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZElijah Taylor. Martin Hunter/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ

ST HELENS

SIONE MATA’UTIA

Position: Second row

Signed from: Newcastle Knights

This is a real coup for Saints and it adds to what was already a pretty impressive back row as they aim for an unprecedented hat-trick of Super League titles.

Still only 24 years of age, Mata’utia has the distinction of being the youngest player to represent Australia when he played against England in the 2014 Four Nations aged 18 years and 129 days.

He will add dynamism to the Saints pack – if he can edge out fellow new boy Joel Thompson for a place alongside the established James Bentley and Morgan Knowles in the second row.

Other signings: Joel Thompson (Manly Sea Eagles), Agnatius Paasi (New Zealand Warriors), Dan Norman (London Broncos)

Departures: Joseph Paulo, Dom Peyroux (both Toulouse Olympique), Jack Ashworth (Huddersfield Giants), Callum Hazzard, Cam Brown (both North Wales Crusaders), James Graham, Zeb Taia (both retired), Matty Costello (Salford Red Devils)

Warrington Guardian: Sione Mata'utia in training with his new St Helens teammates. Picture by Bernard PlattSione Mata'utia in training with his new St Helens teammates. Picture by Bernard Platt

WAKEFIELD TRINITY

MASON LINO

Position: Half-back

Signed from: Newcastle Knights

The half-back position has been a bit of a revolving door at Belle Vue for a few years now.

In Samoa international Lino, they hope to have finally found a solid partner for skipper Jacob Miller in the creative department.

With Trinity aiming to recover from a forgettable 2020, Chris Chester will be hoping Lino – his only permanent signing for this year thus far – holds the key to doing just that.

Other signing: Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants, loan)

Departures: Ryan Atkins, Danny Kirmond, Daniel Barcoe, Harry Dodd (all York City Knights), Danny Brough (Bradford Bulls), Craig Kopczak (Featherstone Rovers), Connor Bailey (Newcastle Thunder, loan), Ben Jones-Bishop, Tony Gigot (both released)

Warrington Guardian: Mason Lino. Picture by Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.comMason Lino. Picture by Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/SWPix.com

WIGAN WARRIORS

JOHN BATEMAN

Position: Second row

Signed from: Canberra Raiders

Having taken the NRL by storm in 2019 before an injury-disrupted 2020, John Bateman is back in Super League.

The combative second rower returns to the club with whom he won two Super League Grand Finals – both at The Wire’s expense – and a World Club Challenge and takes over the number 13 jersey vacated by retired great Sean O’Loughlin.

If he can recapture the form that saw him named Dally M Second Rower of the Year in 2019 with Canberra, the Warriors will have somehow gained a better player than the one who left.

Other signing: Jai Field (Parramatta Eels)

Departures: Morgan Escare, Joe Burgess (both Salford Red Devils), Harry Rushton (Canberra Raiders), Craig Mullen, Ben Flower (both Leigh Centurions), Nathan Wilde, Cian Tyrer, Jake Shorrocks, Josh Woods (all Newcastle Thunder), Max Roberts, James Barran, Ben Holcroft (all Oldham), Sean O’Loughlin (retired), Jack Wells (Salford Red Devils), Joe Greenwood (Huddersfield Giants), Chris Hankinson (London Broncos, loan), Romain Navarette (London Broncos)

Warrington Guardian: John Bateman in action for Great Britain. Picture by SWPix.comJohn Bateman in action for Great Britain. Picture by SWPix.com