Ranking Super League’s best signings of 2023 so far, including Tom Johnstone & Robbie Mulhern

Drew Darbyshire
Super League players Tom Johnstone, Robbie Mulhern and Jake Wardle.

Super League players Tom Johnstone, Robbie Mulhern and Jake Wardle.

We take a look at the top 10 best Super League signings of the 2023 campaign so far, including Catalans Dragons winger Tom Johnstone and Leigh Leopards. 

1. Tom Johnstone

England international Tom Johnstone made the move to Perpignan with Catalans from Wakefield Trinity, putting his injury nightmares behind him with a new lease of life in France.

Given shirt number 24 by head coach Steve McNamara ahead of the new season, Johnstone has made a sublime start to life in Perpignan.

He is the competition’s leading try-scorer with 24, and has crossed for a total of three hat-tricks in 2023.

The winger was not called up into Shaun Wane’s England squad for the mid-season clash with France earlier this year at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, but will certainly be pushing for a spot for the end of year series against Tonga.

2. Robbie Mulhern

Robbie Mulhern has impressed since making the switch to the Leopards from neighbours Warrington.

The Ireland powerhouse has played a big part in Leigh’s success in the middle, making 26 appearances so far under Adrian Lam.

Mulhern helped the Leopards win their first Challenge Cup since 1971 earlier this year as they beat Hull KR at Wembley.

Mulhern has really stood up for Leigh in 2023. Leigh have certainly brought the best out of Mulhern, who signed as free agent following the expiry of his contract at Warrington.

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3. Gareth O’Brien

Another huge part of Leigh’s success so far, Gareth O’Brien has played some of his best rugby league in his career under Lam.

He has made 19 assists and scored four tries in 22 Super League appearances this season.

The ex-Castleford, Warrington and Salford back has made the full-back spot his own at Leigh, having been given the number 17 shirt ahead of the season’s kick-off.

O’Brien’s link up play is second to none, and played a big role in the club’s Challenge Cup victory.

4. Jake Wardle

Jake Wardle Wigan Warriors Alamy Jake Wardle scores a try for Wigan Warriors

Jake Wardle has been one of the most impressive centres in Super League in 2023 and has found his form again under head coach Matt Peet.

The 24-year-old ex-Huddersfield man has scored 10 tries in 25 games for the Warriors this season, providing eight assists in the league.

His form was rewarded with a second call-up to England’s senior squad under Shaun Wane, playing in their 64-0 mid-season win over France.

5. Paul Vaughan

Warrington overseas recruit Paul Vaughan started the campaign as the best prop in Super League, arriving in England as a high-profile signing from the NRL.

The former Australia and Italy international has only missed one game in Super League this season, and regularly plays big minutes.

Vaughan is currently the top metre maker in the competition, with 2,949 from 370 carries, averaging 134 metres per game.

6. Oliver Partington

Ollie Partington Salford Red Devils Alamy Ollie Partington in action for Salford Red Devils

Some Wigan fans may be wishing they still had loose forward Oliver Partington at the DW Stadium, with him being one of Salford’s stand-out forwards in 2023.

A product of Wigan’s academy, Partington made the move on a two-year deal with the excitement of a new challenge and more opportunities.

Paul Rowley instantly rewarded the talented 24-year-old with the number 13 shirt, and he hasn’t disappointed, developing into a fine ball-playing loose forward.

7. James McDonnell

Another product of the Wigan system, Leeds confirmed the signing of Ireland international James McDonnell last July on a two-year deal from 2023.

A solid and consistent back-rower, he has made 19 Super League appearances in 2023, scoring four tries as well as making an average of 28 tackles per game.

He has been an impressive figure at Headingley Stadium under Rohan Smith, and at the age of only 23 has a big future ahead.

8. Jake Clifford 

The Australian playmaker has had an impressive season in Super League with Hull after arriving from the NRL ahead of this season.

Clifford has scored six tries, kicked 49 goals and provided 19 assists for Hull in the league this year – some impressive stats in a team that are at the lower end of the table.

The 25-year-old will return to the NRL in 2024 with North Queensland Cowboys, and whilst he hasn’t been here that long, he’ll be missed in Hull. He’s been a classy player in his short spell in Super League.

9. David Fifita

The former Tonga international brought a whole new level of energy to Wakefield Trinity upon his return from Australia on a deal until the end of the season.

Trinity hadn’t won a game before Fifita’s return but have since chalked up four wins – and whilst we’re not saying it was solely down to the ‘Big Bopper’ – he’s certainly had a positive influence on Mark Applegarth’s side.

His signing may prove to be the biggest in the season if Wakefield manage to retain their Super League status in the relegation battle.

10. Brad Schneider

Brad Schneider Hull KR Alamy Brad Schneider kicks the winning drop goal on his Hull KR debut

Before his arrival at Craven Park mid-July, Super League fans could probably have been forgiven if they hadn’t heard of Schneider.

The 22-year-old half-back had only played 12 games in the NRL for Canberra – but he has been a revelation of a signing for Hull KR to say the least.

The Germany international has only played six games so far for the Robins – but he has made an immediate impact on Willie Peters’ side.

He has produced two clutch plays by kicking the match-winning drop goals in his first two games for Hull KR, helping the Robins reach the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

There’s just something nostalgic about half-backs donning the headguards, isn’t there?

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