One off-contract player every Super League club should prioritise re-signing

Aaron Bower

The deadline of May 1 when Super League players approaching the end of their contract can officially enter talks with other clubs is fast approaching: and you suspect talks are already well underway about retentions.

Earlier this week, Love Rugby League revealed the list of over 150 off-contract players in Super League at the end of this season and that got us thinking: who should every club be prioritising at the top of their list when it comes to retention?

Here’s our pick of one player at every Super League club that will high up on that list..

Castleford Tigers: Jason Qareqare

It’s hard to believe Qareqare is still only 20, given how long he’s been a member of the first-team setup at Castleford. You could argue he is yet to properly secure a regular run in the Tigers’ side since his unforgettable debut, with a loan spell at Bradford last year underlining how he’d fallen down the pecking order.

But there is no doubting Qareqare’s talent, and with his best years still a long way ahead of him, there’s a strong argument the Tigers should be moving fast to tie down one of their most promising young players in the years ahead.

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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.

Huddersfield Giants: Esan Marsters

Esan Marsters
Huddersfield Giants’ Esan Marsters in action against Leigh Leopards in Round 1 – Alamy

Another centre, this time at Huddersfield Giants. At the age of 27, you feel Esan Marsters’ best rugby is still ahead of him in terms of his career, and Ian Watson’s side would be foolish not to consider new terms for the Cook Islands international.

Hull FC: Fa’amanu Brown

Having only joined on an initial one-year deal at the MKM Stadium, Brown already looks like a player who could offer something for Tony Smith’s side in the years ahead.

He has been signed to play a somewhat more unfamiliar position of half-back this year but if Danny Houghton decides not to continue beyond this year, could there be an opening at hooker? If so, Brown’s versatility in both positions would make him an ideal member of the squad to retain.

Hull KR: Matt Parcell

Parcell has been a fine servant for Hull KR since joining from Leeds Rhinos, and while he is now approaching the final years of his playing career, there is arguably still a role for him to play in 2025.

While Rovers now have Jez Litten as their starting number nine and promising youngster Reiss Butterworth, Parcell could certainly go round for one more year and allow Butterworth’s development to continue under the guidance of two senior hookers.

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Leigh Leopards: Josh Charnley

A bit of a no-brainer, this one. One of the most prolific try-scorers in Super League for the majority of his career, Charnley is still very much at the top of his game – as his record last season showed.

There’s no doubting the Leopards would be keen to keep a player who still has plenty to offer at the highest level: though Charnley is one player you suspect wouldn’t be short of interest elsewhere if a deal couldn’t be struck.

Leeds Rhinos: Rhyse Martin

Rhyse Martin Leeds Rhinos Alamy
Rhyse Martin kicking a conversion for Leeds Rhinos in 2024

Love Rugby League revealed at the start of this year how Martin was attracting interest from clubs in the NRL about a move back home. Publicly, Martin 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, Martin will be high on Leeds’ retention list.

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 London’s struggles in the early part of 2025. 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.

Salford Red Devils: Marc Sneyd

Who else? Salford have a few valuable first-team players off-contract later this year but you’d suspect they’re already well underway with convincing their most reliable and important player to commit to a new deal.

The Red Devils have had a number of big players depart for pastures new in recent years, but Sneyd is different. A Salford fan and a Red Devil through and through, you sense this is one deal that will get done before the vultures come circling.

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St Helens: Lewis Dodd

There is an argument that Dodd is yet to fully live up to the potential many believe he has at St Helens, though he has made a promising start to 2024 in a new role.

The 22-year-old has a long, long career ahead of him at the highest level and he will undoubtedly get better as the years go on. Saints, you suspect, will want him leading their attack for years to come.

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Warrington Wolves: Leon Hayes

Leon Hayes
Leon Hayes in action for Warrington

One of the brightest young stars at the Halliwell Jones Stadium will surely not be going anywhere beyond the end of this year, you suspect.

Hayes has already made an impact under Sam Burgess in the early weeks of this season and it’s not difficult to imagine a Warrington Wolves half-back pairing with Hayes in for a good few years to come.

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Wigan Warriors: Bevan French

Lastly, the one that every Wigan Warriors fan wants to see happen: but circumstances elsewhere could dictate what happens with French’s future.

He has become one of the stars of Super League since arriving from Australia but that form has not gone unnoticed Down Under. The NRL is certainly well aware of French’s ability and if Wigan can see off that competition and tie down one of the competition’s best players to a new deal, it would send another message to the world about the Warriors’ pulling power.

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