Marquee magic

The 2016 season is well underway and the recruiting for 2017 has already begun.

Last year the marquee rule was introduced but so far it’s been virtually ignored by the Super League clubs.

There’s some impressive talent coming off contract at the end of this year, that could be available and on the move, and some others who might be interested. These are players that would have an impact both on and off the field, creating media interest and attracting fan interest. Some might be hard to attract, others impossible. But it is worth a try to lure them in, to at least attempt to entice them here.

Here’s five stars English clubs should aim for to create some buzz in Super League.

1. Sonny Bill Williams

Is there a bigger name in rugby league or rugby union worldwide? Probably not. The ex-Bulldogs, Roosters, All Blacks and Chiefs star is expected to cross back codes again at the end of 2016, after he has a run at the Rio Olympics with the Kiwi rugby sevens side. The Roosters are rumoured to be the front-runners to secure his services again. But could he be enticed north? Sonny Bill likes a challenge, doesn’t mind cash in his wallet and is always looking for opportunities to grow his global brand. A stint in Super League would certainly do all of that.

2. Quade Cooper

Another New Zealand-born rugby union star, Cooper has made his name in the 15-man code. But the Kiwi-turned Aussie has strong rugby league roots, he played the game all through his junior days and his best mate is Roosters back Shaun Kenny-Dowall. He has almost switched codes before, to Parramatta, and like his friend SBW he enjoys a challenge and being a big fish in a small pond. Currently in Toulon on France, Cooper will play for Australia in the Olympics but he certainly would make a fine addition to Super League in 2017. He has the silky skills, the profile and the swagger to make a great marquee signing. He’s only 27 and still has plenty of good footy in him.

3. Benji Marshall

He’s getting older but Benji is still a big name and would still bring in the punters. Marshall is off contract with the Dragons this year and his NRL days look numbered. Hull FC are reportedly after him and he is the kind of star that would be get Super League fans excited. He’s done it all in rugby league before, bar Super League, and at 31 he’s probably got another two good years left. Benji would be a great fit in the UK.

4. Taqele Naiyaravoro

A left-field selection would be Taqele Naiyaravoro. This big Fijian flyer is with Glasgow Warriors at the moment, after a season with the NSW Waratahs. A 123kg, 194 cm winger, Naiyaravoro is a Jonah Lomu-style outside back with a rugby league pedigree. The 24-year old actually came through the ranks of the Balmain Tigers and almost played for Fiji in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, before pulling out with injury. He then crossed codes to join union, starring in Super Rugby and making his debut for the Wallabies, the Barbarians and a World XV. Think of Bradford and Tongan sensation Lesley Vainikolo – Naiyaravoro could be the 2017 version of The Volcano.

5. Owen Farrell

Farrell is a surname with a strong rugby league pedigree. The son of Andy, Owen Farrell grew up playing league and remains a fan of the game. It was only a move south as a teenager that saw him introduced to th 15-man code. Farrell is only 24 but he’s already played in a Rugby Unon World Cup, for the British & Irish Lions and accrued 38 caps for his country, not to mention many finals for his club. How about something different for the playmaker? Super League has lost plenty of talent to rugby union in recent years, how nice would it be to get one back? Farrell would look great in a Wigan shirt playing alongside his cousin Liam and his uncle Sean. Make it happen Warriors.

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