The 7 stars we can’t wait to see light up the Championship in 2024

Ben Olawumi
Gareth Widdop, Max Jowitt, Richie Myler

Gareth Widdop (left), Max Jowitt (middle) & Richie Myler (right) will all play in the Championship in 2024

After a longer than usual wait, the Championship is back tonight, with two games taking place including a crunch clash between West Yorkshire foes Wakefield Trinity & Bradford Bulls at a sold out Belle Vue.

Along with teams from League 1, Championship teams have been competing in the 1895 Cup & Challenge Cup this season.

Now at the semi-final stage, four remain in the 1895 Cup – Bradford, Wakefield, York & Sheffield Eagles.

And four also remain in the Challenge Cup, joining the 12 Super League clubs in Round 6 – Featherstone Rovers, Sheffield, Batley Bulldogs & Halifax Panthers.

But with league action kicking off this evening, we’ve taken a look at seven stars we can’t wait to see in action in the second tier this year… All of these are new arrivals – either to a club and/or the Championship itself.

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The 7 stars we can’t wait to see light up the Championship in 2024

Max Jowitt (Wakefield Trinity)

Max Jowitt
Max Jowitt in action for Wakefield Trinity in 2024

Jowitt is about as far away from a new arrival at a club as you can get, entering his eleventh season with hometown club Wakefield this year.

But the 26-year-old is new to the Championship, playing only two games in the second tier to date, both as a loanee for Dewsbury Rams back in 2017.

The full-back has started this season well, with three tries in six appearances, all three coming in the Challenge Cup. We think he’ll be one of the top performers in the Championship this year, certainly in his position, a cut above.

Reece Lyne (Doncaster)

Outside-back Lyne gave a decade of service to Wakefield, but opted to move on to pastures new following relegation and landed on his feet with newly-promoted Doncaster, who were triumphant in the League 1 play-offs.

It was only a few years ago that we were seeing Lyne turn out in an England shirt, and much like Jowitt, you don’t last so long in Super League without having some quality about you.

The 31-year-old has featured in two cup games for his new club so far, playing on both the left & right of the centres, and scoring in the Challenge Cup defeat at Widnes Vikings.

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Nathan Massey (Featherstone Rovers)

Nathan Massey
Nathan Massey in action for Castleford Tigers in 2023

After Featherstone failed to get promoted, it’s been well-documented that some of the Super League stars they’d agreed deals with pulled out of those moves, as allowed.

34-year-old Massey didn’t however, with the veteran returning to Post Office Road having played three games on loan for the Rovers 16 years ago!

Even at 34, the forward still has a lot to offer, especially you feel in the Championship.

Richie Myler (York)

Myler is another absolute stalwart of the game who has dropped down into the Championship ahead of this season, cutting short his time at Leeds Rhinos to join York on a one-year deal.

The ex-England & Ireland international made his senior debut back in 2007 for Widnes, and made his 400th career appearance earlier this month as York beat Oldham in the 1895 Cup quarter-finals, marking the occasion with a man of the match performance and two tries.

More showings like that, and Andrew Henderson’s Knights are in for a treat.

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Mitch Souter (Bradford Bulls)

Young Australian hooker Souter has been recruited from Down Under by the Bulls, penning a one-year deal having openly sought a move to the UK after playing in Canberra Raiders’ New South Wales Cup side.

From what we understand, Super League clubs have already been enquiring about the 22-year-old, and that comes as no surprise after a bright start.

Scoring a try on debut against Dewsbury Rams, Souter – who turns 23 later this month – has started all four competitive games Bradford have been involved in across the two cups, one of the standout players in their side. We’d expect him to be a shining light for the Bulls throughout 2024, or for as long as he stays at Odsal at least!

Lachlan Walmsley (Wakefield Trinity)

Lachlan Walmsley
Walmsley scored a brace of tries in Wakefield’s rout of community outfit Hunslet ARLFC in the Challenge Cup

Of those on this list, Walmsley certainly has the most Championship experience in recent times, crowned the division’s joint-Player of the Year in 2023 having shone in a Halifax Panthers side which didn’t even make the play-offs, making the accolade even more impressive.

Born Down Under, the free-scoring winger has impressed in the British game since arriving at Whitehaven in 2021, called up to the Scotland World Cup squad that year as he represented his heritage.

We’ve seen what he’s capable of in a part-time environment. Now full-time with Wakefield, it’s going to be exciting to see just how far he can go. Six tries in six appearances so far across the two cup competitions is probably a good marker.

Gareth Widdop (Halifax Panthers)

Rounding off our seven is a man who we – at one point in the off-season – weren’t going to see out on a pitch ever again, with Widdop announcing he’d be hanging up his boots as he cut short his time at Castleford Tigers.

But the ex-NRL winner and international star was drawn out of retirement by the lure of being able to fulfil a childhood dream, representing his hometown of Halifax and the team he & his family cheered on from the terraces when he was a youngster.

Three of the four Panthers appearances made by the playmaker so far have come off the interchange bench, and that may be the case for much of the campaign, but he will add some much-needed quality to that Fax side. Widdop celebrated his 34th birthday earlier this week.

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