Ben Guzdek looks at Hull KR’s signings for the 2020 and whether it’s enough to keep them in Super League.
As I’m writing this piece Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers had recently announced their 20th signing ahead of the 2020 campaign.
It has certainly been a busy pre-season for the club’s new head of recruitment Danny McGuire and Robins head coach Tony Smith.
Both Smith and McGuire share plenty of Super League experience winning the Grand Final back in 2004 and 2007.
But how will their first season working together pan out as they look to avoid another relegation scrap.
Strengthening the Team
The harsh reality that came out of the 2019 season was that Hull Kingston Rovers were far from play-off contenders and that just came down to a poor coach (Tim Sheens) and a mediocre squad.
Many supporters – including myself – believed that Hull KR’s transfer business for 2019 was going to land the East Hull in Super League contention. But that wasn’t to be the case.
In spite of this, it meant that changes needed to be made. And so with Tony Smith working his first pre-season at the club, those changes were going to come thick and fast.
Notable departures included wingers Craig Hall and Ryan Shaw. Former skipper Joel Tomkins also left and so all three players made way for NRL winner Shawn Kenny-Dowall.
He was followed by Greg Minikin and Harvey Livett, both young players with experience playing the best standard of English Rugby League.
Increasing in Depth
Although the club have arguably made three signings that have certainly strengthened the vacant positions, another issue to deal with the depth in numbers.
To address this problem, Hull KR had announced a dual-registration partnership with Championship side Dewsbury Rams.
The club also sprung at the opportunity to sign some young prospects at Bradford Bulls who had recently announced their new home at Dewsbury’s Tetley’s Stadium.
From there they were able to bring in Ethan Ryan, Joe Keyes, Rowan Milnes, Elliott Minchella, Matthew Storton and Anesu Mudoti.
Academy graduates Adam Rooks and Will Oakes would go out on loan to the Championship, along with Jimmy Keinhorst joining the latter to York City Knights so that they don’t have too many players on the salary-cap.
Familiar Faces Return
At the moment we’ve covered three players who can definitely strengthen the starting 13 as well as the half-a-dozen players that will fill in the reserves.
But the rest of the key signings were the players that had played on-loan for Rovers in 2019. Matt Parcell, Kyle Trout, Daniel Murray, Jez Litten and Dean Hadley.
These players were Tony Smith’s key personnel who helped ensure Hull KR’s survival in Super League. And so permanent deals were bound to follow. In short, the starting 13 will feature many of these former loanees.
The Official Shirt Numbers
As revealed yesterday, your 2020 squad 🔴⚪
— Hull Kingston Rovers (@hullkrofficial) December 10, 2019
Despite strengthening their centres, wingers and back row. There’s still question marks about who will make the half-back partnership with new signing Jordan Abdull.
You also have to ask whether the rest of the signings would be enough to compete for the play-offs, or better yet avoid another relegation scrap.
It seems as though the new arrivals are dominated by Championship players and Super League reserves who all have a lack of top-tier experience.
However with the former loanees permanent deals they will surely shape the starting 13 with the rest of the arrivals filling in the reserves.
In addition, my prediction for Rovers’ place come this time next year would all depend on injuries. If their key players remain fit, they will have a better season than the last.
But if they don’t then I don’t think the reserves will have the quality to compete at the Super League level.
Hull Kingston Rovers’ Transfers:
Jordan Abdull (London Broncos)
Jez Litten (Hull FC)
Dean Hadley (Hull FC)
Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls)
Matty Gee (London Broncos)
Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Newcastle Knights)
Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves)
Will Maher (Castleford Tigers)
Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers)
Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos)
Nick Rawsthorne (Toronto Wolfpack)
Kyle Trout (Dewsbury Rams)
Joe Keyes (Bradford Bulls)
Rowan Milnes (Bradford Bulls)
Elliot Minchella (Bradford Bulls)
Matthew Storton (Bradford Bulls)
Anesu Mudoti (Bradford Bulls)
Daniel Murray (Salford Red Devils)
Jamie Ellis (Castleford Tigers)
Ryan Brierley (Toronto Wolfpack)