With the George Williams signing confirmed, the halves future looked bleak for Aidan Sezer, prompting the half to jump ship to the Huddersfield Giants.
The English-based Super League club have signed the experienced half on a two-year deal.
Sezer is no stranger to Simon Woolford, having worked briefly alongside him at the Raiders.
“It’s been a drawn out process for most of the year, but to have it all done is a great relief,” Sezer said.
“Joining up with Simon and the boys will be a relief – obviously it was a disappointing campaign last year for the Giants but the ambition of the club and the group is exciting.
“I’m really looking forward to get over there and have a successful campaign in 2020.”
The opportunity was too good for Sezer to refuse in the end, as he looks forward to what lies ahead with the Giants.
“I’ve followed the Super League pretty closely and I’ve always said I want to be a part of it and hopefully go over there and I’m delighted it’s come,” continued Sezer.
“I’ve got a good opportunity to play with the Giants and to play for a great club and hopefully have a successful campaign.”
With the addition of other solid players, Sezer believes the Giants have the makings of a good side moving forward.
“Hopefully my big game experience will carry through, I’m a more mature player now,” continued the veteran.
“We’ve already got big game experience with Jordan Turner who is Grand Final winner, we’ve added some great experience with Kenny Edwards – a high quality player back-rower and of course James Gavet, who’s been a really solid front-rower in the NRL.
“I think as a collective we’ve got things to be optimistic about in the coming year.”
Woolford praised the signing of Sezer and talked up the half for his experience, poise and kicking game.
“I am delighted to finally get the news of Aidan Sezer’s signing out as it’s been a long process,” Woolford said.
“Everyone knows he was my preferred pick in the crucial half back area but to get a current NRL Grand Finalist over here in the prime of his career really is a massive boost for the Giants and the game as a whole.
“With over 150 career games in the NRL and experience of finals football, his pedigree speaks for itself and he will be a real asset for the team.”
His all-round skills as a half, both as a kicker and a runner, are what especially excite Woolford.
“He is an experienced organiser, a superb kicker of the ball both out of the hand and off the tee, and with his 83% kicking success rate, he’ll obviously become our primary kicker,” Woolford continued.
“His running game I think will complement the people around him and above all he is from a winning environment at Canberra and having enjoyed such a stellar season last year can bring a lot of that toughness and win at all costs mentality that successful teams need.
Over the course of the off season, there has been plenty of player movement throughout Super League.
Now, as pre-season gets underway towards the end of the calendar year, I take a look at 10 signings that make all the difference for their retrospective new clubs.
Sonny Bill Williams (Toronto Wolfpack)
Let’s start off with maybe the most obvious choice and one of the biggest acquisitions in the sports history.
It is amazing to think with the career that SBW has had that this will be his first ever season in Super League.
Remarkably, we will finally see Williams in UK’s premier division with expansionist side Toronto Wolfpack.
Even at 34, the cross-code star remains the full package and one incredible athlete who if can remain healthy may just prove to be a devastating addition to Canadian side.
Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos)
Since the departures of Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire, the Rhinos have been crying out for a play caller and someone to just inject some energy and creativity in the middle of the field.
In recent times, the Rhinos have looked to the likes of Richie Myler and Tui Lolohea to fill the void but have fallen short on consistency.
But the return of the 2017 Man of Steel into the Leeds fold may just rectify that with his ability to unlock the defence and his firm accuracy with the boot.
James Maloney (Catalans Dragons)
Alongside Sonny Bill, this is another huge coup for Super League as Maloney makes his bow across the pond with the Catalans Dragons.
A NRL title and State of Origin winner who will bring a wealth of experience and championship winning mentality to a side that looks to keep making big strides in the game.
The 2018 Challenge Cup winners may even become more of a handful as the season goes along with Maloney possibly teaming up with Josh Drinkwater in the halves.
Adam Swift (Hull FC)
For the last couple of seasons, Hull FC have seemingly lacked that little extra something out on the edge and now even more especially after the retirement of Fetuli Talanoa.
However, the return of Mahe Fonua along with bringing in Adam Swift from St. Helens may just give the Hull faithful a whiff of optimism.
The 26-year-old Swift brings a decent try scoring record to Humberside after scoring 86 tries in 130 appearances.
Alongside the likes of Jake Connor, Albert Kelly and Marc Sneyd, he can easily add to his try tally.
Alex Walker (Wakefield Trinity)
One of the country’s most promising youngsters who burst onto to rugby league scene with London Broncos who always looked set to make his presence felt in Super League at some point.
The 24-year-old was a big factor in London’s promotion to Super League.
He now makes the move over to West Yorkshire and that of the Wakefield Trinity.
His positional awareness at the fullback spot will make him a welcome addition to Chris Chester’s side.
Josh Jones (Hull FC)
After one of his best seasons to date, Jones more than deserved his Great Britain call up.
After spending a good proportion of his career with Salford, the second rower now makes the move over to Hull FC.
The Airlie Birds have seen the exits of veteran backrowers Sika Manu and Mark Minichello this post season.
The inclusion of Jones with his offloading and powerful running can partially fill the void left my two consistent performers.
Gareth Widdop (Warrington Wolves)
After spending the entirety of his professional career in the NRL, the Halifax born Widdop will be another premier talent that is set to make his debut in Super League in 2020.
The 29-year-old joins Warrington for the new season and will look to bring all the game management and offensive creativity that made him a success in the NRL.
Over the last couple of seasons, it has been a case of so near yet so far for Warrington.
Could Widdop be the final piece of that puzzle alongside Blake Austin in a dream halfback combination?
Jackson Hastings (Wigan Warriors)
The 2019 Man of Steel winner was the beacon of consistency and creativity that Salford had needed for some time and in turn steered them to their first ever Super League Final.
The 23-year-old was the Red Devils key catalyst over the course of last season and led both his side and the league in try assists with 36.
The versatile back now joins Wigan from the 2020 season,
If the GB international is able to find a connection alongside the likes of Oliver Gildart, Zak Hardaker and Bevan French, then the Warriors can easily continue to be the force they have been for so long.
George Burgess (Wigan Warriors)
An ageing Wigan front row consisting of Tony Clubb and Ben Flower had a new lease of life of last season.
Youngsters Oliver Partington and Liam Byrne burst onto the scene in the front row.
Now, with the addition of George Burgess come the new season, Wigan’s forward pack certainly looks as bolstered as ever.
Even despite a poor discipline record in recent times, the 27-year-old’s sheer size, presence, intensity and big game experience in the NRL mean he could definitely be an impact player over the course of 2020.
Greg Minikin (Hull KR)
It is fair to say that Hull KR have not exactly been quiet in terms of recruitment, with plenty of noteworthy names taking their trade over to Humberside.
However, one name that could stand out over the course of the season may just be Greg Minikin.
The centre has played some of his best rugby while at Castleford, showcasing to be a prolific try scorer in the Tigers run to the Grand Final in 2017.
Throughout the many years of rugby league, we have seen plenty of players from the United Kingdom take their qualities across the world to the Southern hemisphere.
For some, it does not always work out but for others it proves to be a masterstroke in terms of their development as a player.
Most recently, we saw Bateman take the league by storm in his debut NRL season so in response to this, I take a look at the 10 Super League players in today’s game who could make the jump down under.
Luke Thompson (St. Helens)
Is there a better prop forward in Super League at the moment?
The 24-year-old has been a mainstay in the St. Helens front row over the last two seasons and is a player who possesses all he aggressiveness, tenacity and intensity that could see him thrive down under.
Since making his debut in 2013, the barnstorming prop has only gotten better and this year put forth his best season to date this year.
He will prove to be a key figurehead in a Saints side that claimed Super League glory and reached the Challenge Cup final.
Jake Connor (Hull FC)
The Hull FC star’s slick ball handling and carrying skills have seen him thrive at the centre position for the Airlie Birds.
Over the course of history, outside backs who have made the journey over have struggled to cope with the physicality that comes with playing in the NRL.
However, Connor’s undeniable talent could see become someone who can break the mould if given the opportunity.
Tommy Makinson (St. Helens)
There probably has not been a better finisher in Super League over the last few seasons and the spectacular just seems to be a common occurrence for the 2018 Golden Boot winner.
His ability to score through the tightest of windows is second to none.
The 28-year-old finally got a taste of the international stage last year after his debut for England.
He showed the NRL exactly what he can do with a pair of superb performances against New Zealand.
The 2019 season also proved to be another great year as he finished as Super League’s leading try scorer.
Tom Johnstone (Wakefield)
It is fair to say that lady luck has not exactly been on the side of the Wakefield flyer who has endured two season ending injuries in the last three seasons.
However, Johnstone’s ceiling still remains high and at the age of 24, he still has plenty of quality years ahead of him if he can recover from this latest injury setback.
A more than natural finisher, Johnstone has gone on to score 67 times in 78 appearances for the West Yorkshire club.
Alex Walmsley (St. Helens)
The 28 year-old’s front row tandem with Thompson has been something to behold these last couple of seasons.
After a miraculous recovery from a broken neck last year, Walmsley has gone on to become a fearsome prop forward and undoubtedly in the top five at his position in the league.
The Saints man has all the traits needed to make his presence felt in a tough and physical league and similar to that of the Burgess’, his size, strength and huge motor all can prove integral in getting his side on the front foot.
Daryl Clark (Warrington)
At the age of 21, Clark looked destined to be the elite talent he is now after winning the 2014 Man of Steel award with the Castleford Tigers.
Since joining Warrington in 2015, he has just continued to shine.
The 26-year-old oozes quality and has showcased a fine amount of durability with nearly 250 appearances under his belt.
With his electric running out of the hooker spot and pinpoint passing, it could see him make a mark wherever he goes.
Oliver Gildart (Wigan)
Even at the age of 23, Gildart already has plenty of experience under his belt, featuring over 100 times for the Warriors.
In that time, he has racked up over 50 tries to his name since making his debut in 2015.
The star centre’s inclusion in last autumn’s England squad and now a revived GB side just goes to show how quickly he has made an impact in his professional career.
A free flowing and attacking player who can rack up the metres in the southern hemisphere and has already shown a winning mentality at such a young tender age with two Super League crowns.
Liam Watts (Castleford)
We have already touched on how physical the NRL can be and a man who continues to show a fine amount of physicality and toughness in Super League has been Watts.
The Tigers prop was undoubtedly one of the Tigers best players this season after being shortlisted for the season’s Man of Steel award.
Despite not having an international cap under his belt, Watts has been a measure of consistency over the last two yeara.
He has rejuvenated himself since moving to Castleford at the start of the year and his tough and gritty style of play give him every chance down under.
Jonny Lomax (St. Helens)
The 29-year-old has all the versatility and creative flair to make an instant impact in Australia’s top tier with an ability to play anywhere in the backs from halfback to fullback.
Since making his debut back in 2009, Lomax has had a hard time with injuries but one thing that never seemed to escape him was the immense talent he possessed.
After suffering a serious knee injury in 2014, he missed a substantial amount of time sitting out most of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
However, after a full recovery, Lomax made his comeback at the start of the 2016 Super League season and has not seemed to miss a step as over the last three years.
He has cemented himself well and truly as a catalyst for St. Helens and a man who can do it all on the offensive front.
Toby King (Warrington)
Now, to some, this may seem like a real longshot but at the age of 23, King has the potential to be a future impact player for Warrington and possibly one day in the NRL.
The centre made his debut in 2014 and featured sporadically up until the 2019 season where he was a fully fledged starter for the Wire.
In a more central role, King is already showcasing himself to be a great attacking weapon with a great eye for the try line.
He has scored 28 tries and featured on 82 occasions for the primrose and blue.
Most recently, King was selected as part of the England Knights team that faced Jamaica, putting an excellent effort that included a try and a brace of try assists.
A player who just seems to be getting better and better with each game that passes.
It was undoubtedly a year to remember for Thompson who over the last two to three seasons has developed into one of the best prop forwards in Super League if not the best.
The Saints front rower has formed a powerhouse tandem alongside teammate Alex Walmsley and an epic year saw him become the first prop to claim the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his 72 minute workhorse display in the Super League Grand Final since Andy Platt in 1992.
The 24-year-old is now set to wear the GB jersey for the first time this coming Saturday after earning four caps already for England.
He will look to replicate his domestic form onto the international stage with his extensive work rate and hard running tendencies that can make him an integral force in a GB forward pack that is already missing Sam Burgess.
As the Kiwis will have the likes Jared Waerea Hargeaves within their front row, Thompson’s presence becomes all the more vital and his matching up with JWH will certainly be a major battle to take note of throughout the series.
Well what more can you say about this man? The 25-year-old certainly made his presence felt over the course of his first year in the NRL.
He solidified his status as one of the best back rowers in the game with his outstanding offensive and defensive influence for Canberra.
Alongside the likes of Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead, the second rower was a pivotal factor in the Raiders run to the NRL Grand Final.
He consistently racked up the tackles and metres while proving to be an unstoppable force on numerous occasions in the green machine’s much improved pack.
After playing the 2017 Rugby World Cup for England in an experimental centre role, it looks as if Bateman will now be back in his more suited position of the back row for Great Britain.
If the same ferociousness, explosiveness and work rate is still there after his impressive first stint in the NRL, then he has all the tools to lead Britain’s commanding force in a back row that contains Elliott Whitehead and international debutantes Josh Jones, Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin.
The 22-year-old’s star just continues to rise and he is another player who has cemented himself as one of the best at the centre position in Super League.
The Wigan man has been a catalyst in attack making the most metres by a Warriors players with 3,375 over the course of 2019 season and a figure that also sees him placed within the top five in the league.
There seems to be plenty of faith in Gildart who is one of only two recognised centres in the GB squad so expect to see plenty more of the Wigan flyer as the tour goes on.
If his GB debut is anything like his England debut, then we could be in for a treat.
The likes of Tonga and New Zealand cannot afford to give the Wigan ace any space to work with as he consistently looks to get forward and can be dangerous on the break.
It is fair to say there has not been a more consistent player in Super League over the last two seasons.
The 2019 Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner’s versatility and ability to find gaps make him one of the biggest threats in the GB squad.
Although he will come off the bench in the game against Tonga on Saturday, the 29-year-old remains a key player to watch out for over the course of the tour with his ability to do it all the offensive front whether it be to create or score.
Throughout a highly dominant season for the Red Vee, Lomax put together 16 tries and 21 assists in a Super League title winning effort.
He is now fighting amongst a position that already holds plenty of depth in the GB side with Jake Trueman and Jackson Hastings all viable options at stand off.
However, with his ability to play in a variety of different positions amongst the backline, expect the Saints star to see plenty of time out on the field and be a key man when looking to open up the defence.
The last time we saw Hardaker among the international stage, it did not exactly end in the best of circumstances after personal reasons led to him being withdrawn from England’s 2013 Rugby League World Cup squad.
However, even though many will remain sceptical because of his past, it seems to be a quest for redemption Hardaker who starred for Wigan this season.
It was his goal kicking and strong ball carrying that were huge factor throughout.
The 2015 Man of Steel winner will start at centre instead of fullback on Saturday and although it may not be his most favoured position, Hardaker still has the adaptability to fit right and unleash his attacking traits down the flank.
If you were to look at players who made the biggest difference in Canberra’s journey to the NRL Grand Final this year, then you could probably look no further than Hodgson at the hooker position.
Now, yes, Bateman was a hugely influential player in the back row but when it comes to keeping the offence ticking and making plays on the defensive side of the ball, there were fewer better than the 29-year-old.
The England and soon to be GB international plays with all the confidence and creativity of a halfback, leading the way in try assists for Ricky Stuart’s men while establishing himself defensively with the most tackles by a Raiders player and the most one on one ball strips in the entire league.
As the 2019 Super League reaches its crescendo, we take a look into the top 10 players who have their presence felt over the course of the year.
Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves)
It may not have been ending that Wolves fans would have wanted to their season but the 28-year-old still has proven to be one of the buys of the year.
Fitting in perfectly at the stand off position for Warrington, Austin made his presence felt.
Over the course of the season, we have seen time and time again where the former Canberra man has been able to completely change the entire dynamic of a game.
He tore opposition defences to shreds with his expert game management and playmaking ability.
The elusive halfback had an incredible 18 tries and 11 try assists to his name before the start of the play offs and is one of four candidates for the 2019 Man of Steel.
Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils)
Another buy of the year candidate, as Hastings has undoubtedly been the main reason why Salford have been able to secure a playoff spot this year.
The 23-year-old signed a one year deal with the Red Devils before the start of the year and has been the x factor that Ian Watson’s men have so desperately needed.
The former Sydney and Manly halfback has been a truly effective attacking threat for Salford leading the way in try assists and run metres for the entire season.
Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)
There has been no question that Watts has been a true enforcer for Castleford all season and so much so that he is on the shortlist for the 2019 Man of Steel.
The 29-year-old has shown how difficult he is to stop with the ball in his hand and had the most offloads in the regular season with 62 as well as being a constant factor in defence with over 900 tackles to his name.
Danny Houghton (Hull FC)
The 30-year-old has been the definition of a work horse for Hull FC for some time now.
His toughness at the dummy half position has consistently shown by leading the league in tackles three times out of the last four seasons.
It has been surprising to some that Houghton has not been given his chance at international level.
Though at a position that already has strength in depth with Daryl Clark, James Roby and Josh Hodgson all ahead in the pecking order, we just may never see it.
Ultimately, this is a shame for a player who has performed at such a high level for so many years now.
Tommy Makinson (St Helens)
The 2018 Golden Boot winner has followed on from his England heroics in last year’s test series against New Zealand with another great year on the St. Helens wing.
The 27-year-old possesses a freaky try scoring ability that has seen his name on the scoresheet on several occasions.
He led the league in tries by the start of the playoffs with 23.
The England international continues to be a force for the Saints out on the edge and that can only mean good things with the upcoming GB tour of Australia just around the corner.
Lachlan Coote (St Helens)
The departure of Ben Barba left a relatively large hole at the Saints fullback spot.
The acquisition of Coote, however, has been somewhat of a masterstroke from Justin Holbrook.
The Scottish international has probably been one of the league leader’s best players throughout the season.
He recorded 14 tries and 21 try assists to his name, proving to be one of many valuable assets in the Saints backline that features Regan Grace, Ken Naiqama and Mark Percival among others.
The 29-year-old took over goal kicking duties at the start of the year and he has gone from strength to strength, kicking the second most goals in the regular season with 95.
The Red Vee are still one of the firm favourites to take home Super League glory this year.
If Coote continues to pull the strings and be the force we have seen, you would be a brave man to bet against them.
Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos)
Well, the 2017 Super League champions did not have the best of times this year and even found themselves in a nervy relegation battle with four other teams for the most part, believe it or not.
However, one of the brighter aspects of their seasons has to be the breakout year for Ash Handley following the departure of Ryan Hall to the NRL.
The 23-year-old has looked sharp and dangerous all year for Leeds and is joint second in tries with 22.
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
In a position that has held a lot of depth for England and now Great Britain once again, Clark has undoubtedly been one of the prime dummy halves.
This is not just in Super League but in the entire sport of rugby league.
Although Canberra’s Josh Hodgson may still holds the keys to a potential starting role with GB, Clark is certainly waiting in the wings more than ready to take his chance.
The 2014 Man of Steel earned his place in the 2019 Super League Dream Team with 7 tries and 19 try assists.
Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
There is no doubt that Austin has done absolute wonders for Warrington throughout the course of this season.
The one thing that has probably let him down has to be an injection of consistency from time to time.
However, the same cannot be said for Lomax, who has undoubtedly been the Saints most consistent performer all season.
So much so that he has been awarded the Albert Goldthorpe Medal for 2019. S
imilar to Austin, Lomax has been one to make things happen for St. Helens offensively.
He showed his ability to score and create opportunities with 16 tries and 21 try assists coming into the playoffs.
George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
The dynamic scrum half may be off to Canberra and the NRL come the end of the season but the 24-year-old has remained as focus as ever and been a true catalyst for Wigan.
On the back of Williams’ form, Wigan has once again found themselves in the hunt for the Super League crown.
The 2019 Man of Steel nominee may be on his way down under but the is certainly making sure he goes out with a bang.
FORMER England half-back Rangi Chase has signed a new contract with Betfred League One club Doncaster.
The 33-year-old one-time Man of Steel began playing for the South Yorkshire club in July following the completion of a two-year suspension for cocaine use and has now decided to extend his stay until the end of 2020.
“I’m happy to get it over the line,” Chase told the club’s website.
“In my mind, I was always going to stay here but it is good to get it all sorted and I can look forward to the future.”
Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall said: “Rangi has shown his class both on and off the pitch since joining the club and has given us an added threat in our attacking game.
“Richard Horne made it clear how important it was that we got the deal done, with Rangi being such an important player and other clubs showing a keen interest in him.
“To have secured his signature for next season is massive for our club.”