The last seven days seem to have been more about moves around the dug-out and boardroom table than on the pitch (apart from one obvious exception).
The week started with the announcement every Rugby League fan has been expecting and every Wigan fan has been dreading. Warriors Chairman, Ian Lenegan, assembled the media at the DW Stadium to confirm that Wigan and England star, Sam Tomkins, was leaving these shores to join New Zealand Warriors on a 3yr deal. The deal to prise Tomkins away from Super League was confirmed as a World Record transfer fee, easily eclipsing the previous record, set by Wigan themselves, of £450,000 for Stuart Fielden in 2006. Whilst rugby league fans opinions of Sam Tomkins are akin to those people feel about Marmite, it can’t be denied that he is a quality player who will hopefully continue to help raise the profile of English Rugby League both here and abroad. Wigan have already filled the jersey vacated by Tomkins, announcing the capture of North Queensland Cowboy, Matty Bowen.
Following the capitulation of his Hull FC side against Huddersfield last Thursday, Peter Gentle paid the ultimate price this week, his job. After the match at the John Smith’s Stadium, Gentle said he was “100% sure” he would be in charge at the KC next season. Unfortunately for him, it seems Adam Pearson and his Board of Directors had other ideas. The Black & Whites wasted no time in announcing Gentle’s replacement and just 48 hours later former player Lee Radford was installed as Head Coach along with a number of other changes in the coaching setup.
Another club making changes at the top this week was Bradford. Citing ill health, Omar Khan, Bradford’s saviour only 12 months ago, has now stepped down from the helm at the Bulls with immediate effect. Former Bradford and New Zealand scrum half Robbie Hunter-Paul has been named as the new CEO and it will be an interesting off-season at Odsal, with plenty of comings and goings.
The Wolves revealed this week that yet more of their first teamers were moving on from the Halliwell Jones at the end of this season. We already knew Morley was off to Salford and Carvell was moving to Bradford, however this week we also learnt that the 2009 Man of Steel, Brett Hodgson, is also set to leave Warrington at the end of this campaign. Hodgson is yet to reveal his plans for 2014, so it remains to be seen if he is staying in Super League or returning Down Under. In a separate announcement, the Wolves also released Tyrone McCarthy and Rhys Williams from their contracts, enabling them to take up opportunities away from Warrington.
A couple of other moves this week saw Huddersfield back-rower James Cording signing a 2 year deal with Championship club Featherstone, who are building an impressive squad at the Big Fellas Stadium and are no doubt looking to make a push towards Super League in the not too distance future. Also this week, Bradford stalwart Jamie Langley confirmed the expected news that he was leaving Odsal when Hull KR unveiled the 29 year old. Langley becomes the Robins fourth signing for 2014 joining the overseas trio of Michael Weyman, Neville Costigan and Kris Keating.