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Opinion

Four out of five ain’t bad: Revisiting my five astute signings for 2021

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Roar Guru
6th October, 2021
35

Last pre-season, I had a go at picking five signings that while not being touted as the big off-season recruits were ones I saw as having potential to not only be cost effective, but also fill a hole in their team’s roster and have a positive impact.

I chose to avoid the big money recruits like David Fitita and Addin Fonua-Blake and instead opt for either lesser names or those looking for redemption. While I missed the big money-ball signing in Isaiah Papali’i, I can’t be blamed for leaving out the likes of Reece Walsh and Daine Laurie, who hadn’t moved clubs at the time of writing.

Check out my original article.

Now that the 2021 season is done and dusted, it is time to look back and give myself a mark on the five men I tipped to make an impact at their new clubs.

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Tino was the highest profile recruit on my list. His selection came as I saw him as someone who could bring a winning culture to the club after his time at the Storm. He also had the spotlight off him due to Fifita’s big pay packet.

While the Titans only managed to win ten of their 24 regular season games, they returned to the finals, making 2021 a successful season in comparison to their last few years. Tino was a big part of this, averaging 136 metres in his 22 games and finishing the year with the Paul Broughton medal as the Titans’ best and fairest.

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Verdict: Correct

James Tamou
Like Tino, I thought Tamou would be a good pick up as he had premiership winning experience. I also liked that he brought leadership to the club off the back of captaining Penrith to the minor premiership in 2020.

If success and leadership is why the Tigers recruited him, then he delivered very little. This was most telling in the Tales from Tiger Towndoco on Fox where Tamou was rarely heard on the field or in the change rooms, instead leaving it to the likes of relative rookies like Adam Doueihi to inspire the team.

If I had my time again, I would have chosen Stefano Utoikamanu as the front row recruit to have the biggest impact at the Tigers this year.

Verdict: Couldn’t have been more wrong

Jack Bird
The reason I liked this signing was mainly due to the fact that the Broncos were paying a good chunk of his salary.

Bird finished the year playing 22 games, which is more than his combined total at the Broncos over three seasons, so for Jack, 2021 would have been considered a success. His stats saw him record four tries, seven try assists, five line breaks and average 122 metres. His versatility also saw him fill a number of holes for the Dragons across the year.

Brayden Wiliame and Jack Bird of the Dragons celebrate after the Dragons defeated the Broncos.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Verdict: I like to think he was a good pick-up for the Dragons, although he was one of the BBQ 13 that derailed their campaign, so maybe half a mark?

Jason Saab
I was ridiculed widely in the comments for this choice, mainly from St George fans.

What I liked about Saab was he brought raw speed, something that Manly has lacked on the flanks since Scott Donald was bagging tries in the early-to-mid 2000s. He also provided an aerial threat that wasn’t really taken advantage of until later in the season.

The critics will say he only scored because Turbo put it on a plate for him, but that is exactly what he is there for, to turn line breaks into 4 points. Still has some work to do in defence and post-contact metres but his 2021 stats made for good reading.

Verdict: Correct

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Luke Metcalf
This was definitely my wildest prediction but he was someone I thought deserved his chance last year in Manly’s injury-hit 2020 campaign. 2021 saw him return to the Sharks in pursuit of a first grade career. He finished the year with six appearances – interestingly, Cronulla won both games that he started at five-eighth.

Verdict: Seeing as he won the Sharks rookie of the year award, I am going to give myself this one.

So, overall, I am giving myself 3.5/5 (let’s just round it up to 4).

Is this a fair assessment? Or am I way off the mark?

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