An off-contract player each Super League club should prioritise re-signing

Ben Olawumi
Rhyse Martin, Rodrick Tai, Sione Mata'utia

Rhyse Martin (left), Rodrick Tai (middle) & Sione Mata'utia (right) all remain off-contract as we approach June

June is almost upon us, meaning that Super League players approaching the end of their contract will have officially had a month to enter talks with other clubs and retention negotiations will have happened (probably) every single day.

Circa 120 players in the top flight currently remain ‘off-contract’, meaning they haven’t penned a new deal with their current club or been confirmed as having signed one elsewhere.

But beyond that, when the May 1 deadline for contract negotiations struck, Love Rugby League were able to reveal a more condensed list of players at each club who had either been told they were not being offered a new deal or simply not had confirmation one way or another from their current club.

In the four weeks or so since then, some players on that list have seen their futures confirmed in some capacity – Danny Richardson, for example, has been told he will not be receiving a new deal from Castleford Tigers and been sent out on loan to Hull KR for the remainder of this season while he looks to secure his future for 2025 and beyond.

THE FULL LIST: Every Super League player whose contract expires at the end of 2024

Below, Love Rugby League has picked one player at every Super League club that should be a priority to get re-signed, though please note that we’ve simply chosen from those who are either yet to be offered a new deal or those already offered one who are yet to see their contract extensions announced.

Matt Parcell would have been our pick at KR, for example, but he’s already been told he won’t be offered a new deal. Accordingly, there was little point in us picking him, so we’ve gone for someone else..

Castleford Tigers: Tex Hoy

Tex Hoy Castleford Tigers Alamy
Tex Hoy in action for Castleford Tigers in 2024

With Liam Horne now re-signed, the net for off-contract players isn’t exactly a wide one at The Jungle, but it’s recent recruit Hoy who has got our vote. He had some work to do to change most people’s opinion after cutting short his unsuccessful time at Hull, but the full-back is certainly on the right path.

The 24-year-old – who made 29 appearances in the NRL for Newcastle Knights prior to his arrival in Super League – now has two tries in just four appearances for Cas. When you consider he managed just three in 24 appearances all told for Hull, that’s not bad going. If they can get the best out of him, the Tigers should definitely consider offering him a longer-term deal.

LRL EXCLUSIVE: Castleford Tigers director of rugby explains recruitment plans for 2025 and admits IMG challenge

Catalans Dragons: Matt Ikuvalu

The former Sydney Roosters centre is coming to the end of his initial two-year deal, but he still has plenty of rugby in him you feel, at the age of just 30.

Ikuvalu played just 15 times last year but if he can remain fully fit, there’s no doubt he could have a positive role to play for the Dragons not only this year, but next too if they decide to retain him.

READ NEXT: Every Super League transfer already confirmed for 2025 and beyond

Huddersfield Giants: Kevin Naiqama

Kevin Naiqama
Huddersfield Giants’ Kevin Naiqama in action in 2024

When Huddersfield are successful, their two centres are on form. One of those has already been confirmed as departing come the end of this season with Esan Marsters signing for Salford from 2025, and the Giants can ill-afford to let the other go in Naiqama.

The three-time Super League winner will be 36 come the start of next season, but if he’s willing to go around again, Huddersfield need to re-sign him. 10 tries already this season, like a fine wine.

RELATED: Every ever-present player in Super League in 2024, including Huddersfield Giants quartet

Hull FC: Denive Balmforth

Hands up, this is a slightly left-field choice, but hear us out. There’s only a handful of senior players at Hull who haven’t had their futures confirmed yet, and having looked through the list – which includes the likes of Danny Houghton and Carlos Tuimavave – we just think tying down one of the youngsters is a better way to go.

The reaction of FC fans when Balmforth’s loan move to Swinton Lions was announced earlier this week told you everything you needed to know – they want to see him given a shot in Super League, and so do we! He’s only featured twice for the Black and Whites so far this season, but can cover about half of the positions on a pitch very competently.

RECRUITMENT REPORT: Hull FC retention plans, 2025 transfer targets & squad depth scrutinised

Hull KR: Connor Barley

Connor Barley
Connor Barley in action for Hull KR in 2023

It’s also a youngster we’ve picked out for KR, but for slightly different reasons. The Robins have already made their minds up on the vast majority of senior players, including Parcell as we mentioned in our opening stanza. Matty Storton is destined for Wakefield Trinity, and Reiss Butterworth – a youngster himself – has already been told he won’t be kept on.

Accordingly, Barley is the youngster we’ve picked out of a small remaining sample size. The outside-back, who doesn’t turn 20 until September, has 10 senior appearances on his CV to date, including four for Willie Peters’ side. Whether KR actually do tie him down is another story, but he’s a decent prospect in our opinion.

GOSSIP: The Super League players already rumoured to have all-but agreed deals elsewhere in 2025

Leeds Rhinos: Rhyse Martin

Love Rugby League revealed at the start of this year that Martin was attracting interest from clubs in the NRL about a move back Down Under. Publicly, the PNG international has been somewhat non-committal, which does leave an element of doubt over the situation.

But Martin has been one of the Rhinos’ most consistent players in recent years and whether it’s his razor-sharp accuracy from the goal-kicking tee or his ability to fill in multiple positions, he will be high on Leeds’ retention list.

LRL RECOMMENDS: The youngest 13 in Super League in 2024, including Leeds Rhinos trio

Leigh Leopards: Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes
Jack Hughes in action for Leigh Leopards in 2024

Despite announcing a good few contract renewals in recent weeks, and seeing the departures of both John Asiata and Tom Amone confirmed, Leigh’s ‘off-contract’ list still stands in double figures. The majority of those remaining on there, however, have either agreed deals elsewhere which haven’t been publicly announced yet or been told they won’t be offered a new deal by the Leopards.

Ricky Leutele is one that falls into the latter category, and he would have been our pick if that wasn’t the case. Instead, we’ve opted for Hughes. The 32-year-old just seems to be a ‘steady eddy’ in Adrian Lam’s side, one of those who is a 7/10 or higher each week. It all depends on recruitment, but we’d be surprised if Leigh don’t eventually table an offer his way.

RUMOUR MILL: Leigh Leopards transfer target linked with new NRL club

London Broncos: Lee Kershaw

Practically the entirety of London’s first-team squad is out of contract at the end of this year, and there’ll be a number of players Mike Eccles will be keen to retain if, as expected, the Broncos are back in the Championship in 2025.

But one individual who has undoubted Super League quality is winger Kershaw, who has already impressed despite the capital club’s struggles in the early part of 2024. He will have plenty of interest if he continues that fine form throughout the course of this year, but London will certainly be keen to retain whatever division they’re in.

DON’T MISS: From Wollongong to Barcelona – 7 surprising places that Super League games have been played

Salford Red Devils: Sam Stone

Sam Stone
Salford Red Devils’ Sam Stone walks out ahead of a game in 2024

We think Stone’s record since arriving in the British game back in 2022 with Leigh speaks for itself, another who is in the ‘Mr Reliable’ category, rarely missing games and very rarely putting in a sub-par performance.

The Red Devils have some re-jigging around in terms of quota spots if they wish to keep new recruit Loghan Lewis come 2025, but it’s difficult to see them not throwing everything possible behind a retention offer to Malta international Stone, who we’d put among the most underrated stars in Super League.

RELATED: Every Super League club’s quota spot situation as we hit the midway mark in 2024

St Helens: Sione Mata’utia

He has an extension for another year into 2025 – and it’s definitely one that the Saints should be looking to trigger.

Mata’utia has great utility value, and is a real leader in a St Helens pack littered with talent. There’s no doubting that he should be near the top of their priority list for a new deal, if it hasn’t been sorted already..

LRL RECOMMENDS: Matty Smith builds perfect player from 5 attributes including St Helens & Wigan Warriors legends

Warrington Wolves: Rodrick Tai

Rodrick Tai Warrington Wolves Alamy
Papua New Guinea international Rodrick Tai in action for Warrington Wolves in 2024

A deal looks like it has been struck with captain Stefan Ratchford, which we’re not against in the slightest, but Warrington will surely be exercising their one-year extension option in Tai’s contract. The Kumuls star has been incredible at times over the last few weeks for Sam Burgess’ side, none more so than in their victory at Catalans.

It took the centre a little while to get going after his arrival at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, needing to get over an injury before he could grace the field, but he’s been a revelation since, featuring six times so far and scoring in two Challenge Cup ties to help Wire book their spot at Wembley.

RELATED: Sam Burgess makes Las Vegas declaration amidst Warrington Wolves rumours

Wigan Warriors: Ryan Hampshire

Wigan’s pick came down to a contest between Hampshire and youngster Jacob Douglas, the only two remaining off-contract players in Matt Peet’s squad who are yet to see their futures decided. For what it’s worth, we’d re-sign both of them, but we had to pick, and Hampshire won the battle.

Boss Peet and various members in the Cherry and Whites camp have spoken of how valuable Hampshire is to them, one of the best deputies around given his versatile nature. He’s been through the mill with injuries during his career, but ‘Rocky’ is still only 29 and has a good few years left in him yet.

LRL EXCLUSIVE: Mike Cooper discusses playing future and makes Wigan Warriors admission