Since the start of last season the Rhinos have lost eight of the players in the 'Official Handbook 2005' with squad numbers from one to twenty-seven. These are players in first team contention/regulars, who you would expect that we would need to replace with equal calibre to 'tread water'. |
To give Gary and Tony the benefit of the doubt, we should perhaps work on the premise that squad numbers one to twenty are regular first teamers, and therefore twenty-one to twenty-seven can be considered as replacements promoted from the ranks. That gives us Scruton, Smith, Ablett, Murrell and Golden that could all come into the reckoning.
Assuming that 'permission to talk' means that Paul King is destined to be wearing Blue & Amber next season (I bet that one made for interesting pillow talk at the Hetherington household!), then his signing could well be the last that Rhinos supporters can expect.
Promoting Nick Scruton, Jason Golden, Lee Smith and Carl Ablett, along with the four new signings will give us the Rhinos twenty for next season. You can see Garys thinking here, but I doubt that it will be enough to satisfy most Rhinos supporters who see 2005 as a year of failure, when set against the lofty achievements of 2004.
|Liam Botham||Jason Golden|
|Wayne McDonald||Nick Scruton|
|Chris McKenna||Jamie Peacock|
|Marcus Bai||Scott Donald|
|Mark Calderwood||Lee Smith|
|Barrie McDermott||Paul King?|
|Francis Cummins||Carl Ablett|
|Andrew Dunemann||Shane Millard|
Of the players coming in, only Peacock could be defined as 'World Class' and many will see many of the rest of the arrivals/promotions as below the standard of the players that they are replacing. It will certainly be a cheaper side to run (salary wise) and this will allow Gary to increase the packages of players now established as the backbone of the side (McGuire, Burrow, Diskin, and JJB).
Only time will tell if King really is the last piece of the Rhinos 2006 jigsaw, but my feeling is that he probably will be.