Leeds Rhinos have confirmed the signings of Salford Red Devils duo Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft on long-term deals.
A move for 2022 Man of Steel Croft has been a few weeks in the making, with chief executive Gary Hetherington confirming the Rhinos’ interest in the playmaker earlier this month.
Croft has been one of Super League’s standout stars over the last two seasons, making 55 appearances for the Red Devils since his arrival from the NRL.
The Rhinos’ interest in England international hooker Ackers though has only come to light over the course of the last few days, with the Golborne-born dummy half bringing an end to a four-year spell with the Red Devils.
Ackers – who joined the club from Toronto Wolfpack in 2020 – played 74 games for Salford, earning international honours with the Three Lions in the process. He formed part of Shaun Wane’s squad for last year’s World Cup on home soil.
Croft pens a deal until the end of 2026 at Headingley, while team-mate Ackers puts pen to paper on a contract of the same length.
Leeds Rhinos break 26-year investment record with signings of Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers
The pair will go straight into Rohan Smith’s starting 13 come 2024, with former NRL ace Croft taking the number six shirt, and ex-London Broncos man Ackers – born on Christmas Day – number nine respectively.
Their signings are an absolutely huge statement of intent, with no secret made of the fact that it’s cost the eight-time Super League champions a pretty penny to lure them to Headingley.
Amidst a woeful campaign this term, chief Hetherington made a recruitment promise to the club’s fans, ensuring them that hard work was ongoing behind the scenes to make sure they were more competitive come 2024. These two acquisitions back that up.
Hetherington said: “It has been a long and exhaustive search for new players for our squad in both Australia and New Zealand and here at home, and we are delighted to have captured these two players.
“It represents a huge investment for us as a club, and there is a lot for our fans to look forward to in 2024. It is our biggest investment in one go since we signed Iestyn Harris in 1997 when Iestyn came and made a significant difference to our squad.
“I am sure that Brodie and Andy will both do that. Apart from being good players, they are outstanding individuals that will bring experience and leadership to the group.”
Outgoing Salford duo pay tribute to Red Devils with excitement at new challenge
During their time at Salford, the two spine players were key figures in an overachieving team, helping guide the club into the Super League play-offs for just the third-time ever in 2022 as Croft was crowned Man of Steel.
They were just 80 minutes from a second Old Trafford appearance, beaten in the semi-finals by St Helens, who went on to beat Leeds in the showpiece.
Both men credited the Red Devils upon signing for the Rhinos, with the half-back adding: “I would like to say a massive thank you to Paul Rowley and everyone at the Salford club who has supported me over the last two years.
“I wish them all the best for the future. I can’t wait to get started in pre-season and get to know the Leeds boys. When I found out that Gary and Rohan were keen to bring Andy with me from Salford, I was really excited. For me, he is the best hooker in Super League and we have a great relationship on and off the field.
“At Salford we had a really tight knit group and I think that helped us perform to our best and I am hoping to replicate that here at Leeds.
“I had a big smile on my face walking around Headingley; when you can see all the heritage here, imagining what it will be like running out in front of the Leeds fans and hearing the South Stand roar, I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, Ackers re-affirmed: “I am pleased to be joining the Rhinos. I have had three great years at Salford and will always be grateful for my time there. It is an exciting time at the Rhinos.
“I have had a good chat with Harry Newman and I’ve known Jarrod O’Connor for a number of years. I am looking forward to working with Jarrod and Corey Johnson along with all the other great young lads here.
“The club have shown their ambition with the squad for next season and I will be looking to play my part.”