Richie will take the best wishes of the SouthStanders with him when he joins Brian Carney at Gold Coast for the 2007 season. Since being understudy to the great Gary Connolly at Headingley, Mathers has established himself as one the most consistent and well liked players at the Rhinos. Running second in this seasons 'Player of the Season' awards, prior to his injury, Richie has become established a firm favourite amongst the supporters.|
With no hope of a return to Rhinos duty Mathers will have been removed from the players register at Headingley and will have therefore freed up even more money and another place on the 20/20. We'd already got at least one free space after the sacking of Danny Ward, and speculation puts us several hundred thousand pounds under the salary cap. Perhaps now is teh time to be spending some money on a replacement.
There is some scope within the ranks for reshuffling and promotion. Lee Smith could take over at full back, and Smith indicated by his selection last weekend that this is his preferred short term option. Danny Williams would then get the nod on the wing, and he has acquitted himself well in the games he's played so far this season.
Another option might be Ashley Gibson who has played full-back in his time and who has a good record with the boot as well as in try scoring. Ashley, sponsored by SouthStander.com, has done very little wrong in his handfull of first team outings.
If we are hitting the market for a long term replacement then common sense suggests that you buy to improve your squad and degradate your opponents. Wellens from Saints or Withers from the Bulls would therefore seem to be the best tactical moves although both are on long term deals at their respective clubs and unlikely to move. Hull FC are currently relying on Tony, who doesn't strike me as a typical Leeds player, and Brent Grose from the Wolves is also an unlikely signing. There isn't a great deal of available full-back talent out there.
Whoever we end up with as full time full-back at Headingley, it is certain that at just twenty-two Richie has a bright future in front of him. I wish him all the best for his future career and hope that we will see him again in Blue & Amber; stronger, faster and better than we send him.