Five free agents who played in Super League in 2023, including Joe Lovodua

Ben Olawumi
Joe Lovodua

Joe Lovodua (far left) celebrates a try for Hull FC in 2023 - Alamy

With some clubs already back in pre-season training, there are still a mass of free agents knocking about who played in Super League in 2023.

These players have either been released by the club they played for in 2023 and remain unattached, or are still to have their future confirmed with that same club as an off-contract ace.

Below, we’ve taken a look at five of them…

Blake Austin

Half-back Austin is probably the most high-profile name on the full list of free agents after a quite simply chaotic year.

Having failed to earn himself a new contract at Leeds Rhinos following a very public feud between the player and the Headingley hierarchy, the 32-year-old was shipped out on loan to Castleford Tigers at the back end of the season.

Austin helped the Tigers to Super League survival, but evidently failed to find himself a contract over here, as he’s now headed back home Down Under.

It remains to be seen whether he’ll play on or not, though you’d struggle to see him getting an NRL gig, so the likelihood is a non-professional outfit if anything.

James Greenwood

Greenwood is another veteran, confirmed as departing Salford Red Devils after four years with the Greater Manchester outfit.

The forward wrote his name into the club’s history books back in 2020 as he scored a try in their Challenge Cup final defeat to Leeds under the arch at Wembley, but had found game time limited in the years which followed through injury.

Playing just once for Paul Rowley’s side this season, he also featured as a loanee in the Championship for both Barrow Raiders and Swinton Lions.

His next destination – if there is one – is yet to be confirmed.

Ryan Hampshire

Outside-back Hampshire has had a torrid time with injuries of his own over the last few years. The Wigan Warriors academy product re-joined the club ahead of 2023 after a much-hampered stint at Castleford Tigers.

Still recovering from an ACL injury, it took until May for the 28-year-old to feature for Matt Peet’s men, making an emotional return in their Challenge Cup victory over Leeds.

Hampshire was always brought back by Wigan to be a bit-part player, and so it proved with just three appearances in total this year on their run to being crowned Super League champions.

Nonetheless, his unselfish attitude around the place earned him high praise from boss Peet towards the end of the regular season, and he may well stick around for 2024, though nothing has been cemented either way just yet.

Daniel Hill

21-year-old Hill joined St Helens from Widnes Vikings ahead of the 2022 campaign on a two-year deal.

In his first season at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the young gun made two senior appearances, both against Castleford Tigers.

Paul Wellens didn’t feel the need to call upon him this term though, with the closest he came to a first-team run-out being named as the 18th man against Warrington Wolves back in April.

Limited to a handful of loan appearances between North Wales Crusaders & Swinton, Hill was one of 11 to depart Saints at the end of the season with his contract expiring, and no move has been announced for him since.

Joe Lovodua

Fiji international Lovodua brought an end to two years with Hull FC when his name appeared on their 11-man departures list at the back end of the campaign.

The Lautoka-born ace had played in the New South Wales Cup for both St George Illawarra & South Sydney Rabbitohs’ sides beforehand.

He made a total of 44 appearances for Hull, scoring six tries in the process, and also featuring for the Combined Nations All Stars against England in 2022.

Where the 25-year-old will play his rugby in 2024 remains to be seen.

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