NRL best imports for Super League XXI

Just over twenty players are on their way to Super League XXI after making the off-season move from the National Rugby League.

As the norm, several players are set to play out the rest of their careers in England after serving the National Rugby League for many years. The value of Kurt Gidley (Wolves), Sika Manu (Hull FC), Frank Pritchard (Hull FC) and Glenn Stewart (Catalans) can’t be underestimated.

In great news for the game in England, several younger National Rugby League players have their move to the premier European competition.  They will be keen to follow in the footsteps of Mickey Paea by playing regular top grade football in Super League before moving back as a more experienced player to the National Rugby League a few years down the track.

This year also welcomes back English International fullback Sam Tomkins after struggling to adapt to rugby league down under.  He will keen to find form to get back his England spot from 2015 Golden Boot nominee Zak Hardaker.

Dan Fowler had an international flavour, including Papua New Guinea international Gary Lo in his top 2016 Championship signings.

Here’s my top five picks for the National Rugby League imports who will make a big impact on Super League XXI.

5. Corey Thompson (Canterbury Bulldogs to Widnes Vikings)

Corey Thompson signed a two year deal with Widnes Vikings back in August.  Thompson made thirty-five appearances for the Canterbury Bulldogs, scoring fifteen times.

With Curtis Rona and Sam Perrett certain to be the starting wingers at the Bulldogs, Thompson was likely to be relegated to their VB NSW Cup side in 2016.  A move to Widnes allows him regular top grade footy.

What Thompson needs to work on in his defence but there’s no doubt he will be able to find the try line.  The former Easts Tiger from Brisbane could become a reluctant star at Select Security Stadium as they try to avoid the Super 8 Qualifiers.

4. Mahe Fonua (Melbourne Storm to Hull FC)

Mahe Fonua makes his way to Hull FC in August on a three year deal.  The twenty-three year old has made four appearances for Tonga and turned out fifty times for the Melbourne Storm, scoring twenty-four tries.

Fonua can either play on the wing or in the centres.

He is a powerful runner when confident but did struggle under the high ball which made him a liability for the Storm.  If he can continue to grow confidence and eliminate errors out of his game, Hull FC have picked up a very good buy who will have a cult following among Arlie Bird supporters.

3. Daniel Vidot (Brisbane Broncos to Salford Red Devils)

It was a frustrating 2015 for Daniel Vidot where he only turned out eight times for the Brisbane Broncos.  At one stage he appeared on his way out of Red Hill to sign with South Sydney early in the season.  He flirted with the idea of becoming a WWE star before settling on a two year deal with Salford Red Devils in November.

With 53 tries in 101 National Rugby League appearances you would expect Vidot to be a prolific try scorer for the Red Devils in 2016.  I would also expect this year would be all about gaining more confidence after Wayne Bennett took the axe to him after a poor display in the World Club Challenge last February.

Vidot along with ex-Cowboy Robert Lui will be the key to ensuring Salford don’t put themselves into the same position of trying to survive in Super League through the Super 8 Qualifiers.

2. Ryan Hinchcliffe (Melbourne Storm to Huddersfield Giants)

Ryan Hinchcliffe is the Aussie player in my opinion who will make the biggest impact in Super League this year.  At thirty-one, Hinchcliffe signed a three year deal with the Giants back in June.

With 196 National Rugby League matches under his belt, Hinchcliffe can play either at lock or hooker.

His former coach Craig Bellamy describes Hinchcliffe as one of the best clubmen he’s ever come across with his selfless attitude, playing above his weight.

If Hinchcliffe can bring some of the Melbourne attitude to the Giants club they could go from being a top four contender to a serious threat on the Super League title in 2016.

1. Sam Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors to Wigan Warriors)

It goes without saying that the return of Sam Tomkins to Wigan will please his teammates and fans of the proud club.

Tomkins shot in the National Rugby League was not the outstanding success that everyone was expecting after scoring 144 tries in 151 appearances for the ‘cherry and whites’.  It might have come down simply to not being the right fit at the New Zealand Warriors.

Wigan will be hopeful that Tomkins return to Super League will see the Warriors win their first title since he left the club at the end of 2013. Personally for Tomkins it will be a fight to retain the number one England jumper after Zak Hardaker was brilliant during the recent series with New Zealand.

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