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Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 12:44 am
Posted by sally cinnamon on Thu May 21, 2020 12:44 am
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Signing Inglis out of the blue got me thinking about other big signings that we have announced over the years, we have had quite a few earth-shakers.

I've ranked these not on how they played in the P&B but on the significance of the signing at the time, how much it contributed to changing the club's ambition and the way we were perceived, how excited the fans were with the signing. I started watching post Boyd and Woods and Dessie was already here so others will have to say where they would rank on this list.

How would you rank these guys (and have I missed anybody off :THINK: )?

10. Josh Charnley (2018)
This came at a point where we needed a lift, coming off the back of a dismal season in the Middle 8s. It was a while since we'd made a big statement in the transfer market and bringing in Charnley who had given us grief in the past in battles with Wigan was a nice fillip that helped create a more optimistic atmosphere for the new era under Price.

9. Brett Hodgson (2011)
We were starting to make strides under TS and for the first time in decades were genuinely talking about having a tilt at the title, so we were looking for players who could take us to the next level. One of our needs was a goalkicker, so landing a player of Hodgson's all round class was Christmas come early. We'd already seen him excel in SL in Hudds and win Man of Steel, he just brought class, confidence and composure. You knew that he was a signing who could not fail to upgrade us.

8. Daryl Clark (2015)
Clark was a promising 20 year old when we signed him in 2013 but part of the terms of the deal was that he would stay one more year at Cas before joining in 2015. Well while we were waiting for him, he won Man of Steel. This was like our equivalent of Saints signing Sculthorpe from us: we had a top young talent with his whole career ahead of him.

7. Matt King (2008)
This was an exciting announcement. We were signing a current Kangaroo and NSW centre/winger who had been crushing it as part of the Melbourne Storm side that was becoming the glamour team of world RL. He was one of the most recognisable figures in the NRL as well with his great size and big hair, we knew that landing him was major news.

6. Greg Inglis (2021)
For shock value this is number two, nobody saw this coming. The crazy thing about this was, over the past decade, Inglis was the 'unrealistic example' you'd use if you wanted to describe SL making a groundbreaking signing. Its like saying Messi to the Premier League. You can argue about who has been the best player in rugby league over that time - probably Thurston - but Inglis has been the best athlete. He's the Mal Meninga of the modern era.

5. Allan Langer (2000)
Similar to Inglis in that he's an all time legend coming out of retirement. I put Langer ahead of Inglis on this list of mega signings because a) his stature in the game is possibly a bit higher and b) where we were as a club then is way off where we are now. Us signing Langer then would be like Wakefield or Hull KR signing Inglis now.

4. Martin Gleeson (2004)
This might seem a bit controversial putting him ahead of Inglis and Langer but this was a unique signing (made possible by unique circumstances with his betting ban) where a young British player approaching his prime was signed by a mid-ranking club from a top club. It was the complete reverse of the normal food chain and I can't think of any equivalent since. It was the first season at the HJ and probably the signing that gave momentum to the new era - we were able to attract a number of internationals on the back of Gleeson. It also raised the expectation and pressure. I remember distinctly the press conference when we announced it which had a strange atmosphere. Gleeson looked like he didn't want to be there and Cullen seemed tense and defensive on what should have been a positive occasion.

3. Jonathan Davies (1993)
Davies was a once-in-a-generation player who we knew was an individual match-winner and would change the complexion of Brian Johnson's workmanlike side which had a good team spirit but was short on inspiration. Like Hodgson we were getting so many things with Davies - goalkicking, leadership as well as his own individual genius. He was also very likeable - if we'd have signed any of the other greats of that era (Edwards, Schofield, Hanley, Offiah) from our rivals we'd have been pleased but it would have been difficult to adjust to seeing them as a Wire. Davies was easy to accept and the fact he'd been a Widnes player wasn't an issue, fans of all clubs liked him. The best thing about this signing was that as big as it was at the time, we didn't even realise then how good he would go on to be with us.

2. Adrian Morley (2007)
If Gleeson was the first signal that the club had a new level of ambition, signing Morley took us on to a new level. He was a forward - which showed we were in the business of winning not just making glamour signings - and he'd been there and done it in the NRL so his calibre was unquestioned. Any club in the world would have wanted Morley at that time, and we got him, and landed him on a four year deal which meant we knew he was going to commit a large part of his career to Wire. We knew he was going to be the best forward at the club for two decades and give us a much tougher, more serious image and bring proper leadership.

1. Andrew Johns (2005)
OK this was a loan deal and so a bit of a gimmick but it was the biggest signing coup I can ever remember from any club. At the stage we signed him Johns was head and shoulders the best player in the world, he'd been injured in the first part of the season, Newcastle were on a record losing streak, he came back and turned them in to a winning side. He tore it up in Origin for NSW. He was just unstoppable at that point, even in a competition as good as the NRL. The excitement around the HJ at the time he signed was unparalleled, I remember the huge queues in the club shop for the Johns merchandise. I have a tacky training top with Johns' face and giant signature on it and JOHNS 31 on the back that I still go running round London in. We signed him at a time when for the first time since Davies, we were a winning side playing good rugby - it was the best part of the Cullen era, and there was a lot of optimism around the club. Signing Johns sent it in to overdrive.
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 8:39 am
Posted by Lord Tony Smith on Thu May 21, 2020 8:39 am
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Agree with most of them. Joel Monaghan worth a mention. He was an Origin player at the time and had payed for Australia. No Australian team would touch him after that incident and so it felt like a risk but what a player he was for us.
Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 8:50 am
Posted by sir adrian morley on Thu May 21, 2020 8:50 am
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Andy Gregory..showed our intent on breaking Wigan's dominance in the 80s..shame he went there after a relatively short career at wire
Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 9:08 am
Posted by Rogues Gallery on Thu May 21, 2020 9:08 am
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As a Wigan and RL fan I would have put Michael Monaghan in there, for me he was the best all round hooker in Superleague.
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 10:01 am
Posted by morleys_deckchair on Thu May 21, 2020 10:01 am
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Rogues Gallery wrote:
As a Wigan and RL fan I would have put Michael Monaghan in there, for me he was the best all round hooker in Superleague.

what about Chris Bridge?
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 10:07 am
Posted by Builth Wells Wire on Thu May 21, 2020 10:07 am
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 12:14 pm
Posted by sally cinnamon on Thu May 21, 2020 12:14 pm
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Lord Tony Smith wrote:
Agree with most of them. Joel Monaghan worth a mention. He was an Origin player at the time and had payed for Australia. No Australian team would touch him after that incident and so it felt like a risk but what a player he was for us.


Yes Joel was a major signing, the only reason it didn't feel as big was because he was replacing Chris Hicks so it didn't feel like a major upgrade that would take us to a new level. Charnley was coming in to a wing slot which used to be Matty Russell or Mitch Brown.
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 12:47 pm
Posted by Shabino on Thu May 21, 2020 12:47 pm
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Some quality players there. No sure it's fair to have John's as the best signing though as didn't he only play 3 games on loan?!
Sandow should be on that list as he was unplayable for the first half of the season you signed him...
Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 12:51 pm
Posted by Dita's Slot Meter on Thu May 21, 2020 12:51 pm
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Slightly different, because obviously back then Aussies brought in were mainly on short term deals, but when we brought in Steve Roach, Les Davidson and Phil Blake for the 1988/89 season, that was as ground-breaking and as big a statement of intent as we have ever made.

Typical Wire though, we then proceeded to have one of our worst ever seasons, only brightened by a Cup run, which was ended at Maine Road by the flukiest/greatest drop goals of all time.
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Re: Top 10 groundbreaking signings
Post Thu May 21, 2020 12:58 pm
Posted by sally cinnamon on Thu May 21, 2020 12:58 pm
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Rogues Gallery wrote:
As a Wigan and RL fan I would have put Michael Monaghan in there, for me he was the best all round hooker in Superleague.


Michael Monaghan and Hicks signed at the same time as King.

With hindsight all three of those were great signings. But when we signed them, King was the blue chip superstar.

MM and Hicks had not been Origin or international players so were less well known in the UK.

In MMs case there was a question mark. We had been trying to sign Matt Orford from Melbourne Storm, for 2006. When that didn't come off we ended up getting Michael Sullivan, who had been playing as a bench hooker for Cronulla and said he wanted the opportunity to be a halfback. It didn't work for us, and we ended up using him in the same way as a hooker, which left us without a proper halfback replacement for Nat Wood who had retired.

While Sullivan was with us, Orford had joined Manly and taken MM's halfback slot, so MM got shifted out to hooker. When we signed MM we heard the same story - he wanted the chance to play as a halfback again. Because we'd been through the Sullivan experience there were concerns at the time MM was signed that this was going to happen again...MM would come to be halfback, not be very effective, and end up being shifted back to hooker, leaving us without a halfback.

Which is exactly what happened :lol:

The difference to Sullivan was that MM became as you say the best all round hooker in SL. It still meant we were using makeshift replacements at halfback for a couple of years but once we signed Myler all the pieces fell in place.

But when we signed them, King was seen as more the sure thing and there were question marks over MM. King took a while to settle too though - neither of those two really got going until TS arrived in their second season.

Hicks was the most consistent from the start but slipped under the radar as a signing because he didn't have a high profile in Aus, although he had a good NRL record.
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