Makali Aizue – Doncaster
Aizue is very much a signing which sends a statement of intent to other teams in the League 1 competition. Gary Thornton has turned to the former Dewsbury man to strengthen their forward pack for the year ahead. An uncompromising character on the field, Aizue is a player who gets fans out of their seat and he will bring the excitement factor back to the Keepmoat Stadium as the Dons look to make a swift return to the Championship. He had a good impact in the Championship last season so it’s worth keeping an eye on his influence in South Yorkshire during the year ahead.
Adam Brook – Keighley Cougars
Joining from Bradford after a loan spell at Keighley in 2015, Brook has played his way to a contract at Cougar Park following his release from the Bulls. He initially joined the West Yorkshire side in tough circumstances after the death of Danny Jones, but the youngster did well under the guidance of coach Paul March and experienced half-back partner Paul Handforth. Brook signed a two-year contract with Keighley in September of this year, will his first permanent year at the club be a successful one which leads to the Championship?
Peter Fox – Newcastle Thunder
The ex-England international winger moves up to the North East after a few stop-start years including a loan stint at Halifax and a season in Doncaster. With a step down a division, Fox’s talents on the wing will definitely improve Thunder’s chances of a successful season in Michael Mantelli’s first season in charge. Whether or not he can hit the heights of his try-scoring record at Hull KR and Wakefield remains to be seen but with a good run of games under his belt, the consistency and professionalism of Fox will be a boost to the Newcastle club as a whole.
With his unmistakeable figure and tenacious running style, North Wales Crusaders will have been highly disappointed to find out one of their star forwards had joined a rival team in the same league. The Hornets have upped their promotion bid with the signing of Smith, who will bolster their back-row significantly at Spotland. The Warrington-born loose forward knows his way to the try line and will be another attacking weapon in the armoury of the Hornets, especially when near to the whitewash, as it takes a lot to stop Smith when he’s got a head of steam up.
After having recent troubles with injury, Fieldhouse will make his return to regular rugby playing time in Cumbria with Barrow Raiders. With the pursuit for promotion to the Championship becoming even more challenging by the year, it’s important for clubs to have top players in all positions and Fieldhouse brings that to the table at full-back for the Raiders. Coach Paul Crarey has recruited well for the year ahead with quite a few former Leigh players, including Oliver Wilkes, Cameron Pitman and Chris Hankinson, joining Barrow. Fieldhouse until recently was one of the best full-backs outside of Super League and if he regains that form, the Raiders have got a great deal.
A mainstay in Doncaster’s side for the past few years, a move to York City Knights may have come as a surprise to few due to Emmett’s influence at the Keepmoat Stadium. A big presence in the forward pack, coach James Ford has done well to bring the back-rower to North Yorkshire as a few clubs in the Championship were reportedly looking at him. The Knights have come close to promotion to the Championship before but now with the new ground situation done and dusted, Emmett and co will be wanting to make the headlines on the field in the coming year.