Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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This time of the year some of us are enjoying success. We're enjoying the fact our team has been through so much success during the season. The rest of us are already waiting for the next season to begin. The hopes for our team's season has all but fainted. The best we can hope for is at least some decent performances and some decent signings. Included in this edition of the Hills Hoist, we look at some of the key signings clubs have made during the last decade.
On This Day 9th July 2007 - It was meant to be a major coaching signature for the Sydney Roosters, but on this day Chris Anderson quit coaching after an embarrasing 56-0 loss to Manly. Brad Fittler was made new head coach. 2004 - This was a major signing day for a few clubs. The St George Illawarra Dragons signed Newcastle Knights hooker Michael Ennis, the Wests Tigers signed Penrith Panthers centre Paul Whatuira and the Parramatta Eels signed Newcastle Knights star Timana Tahu.
Top Ten Ok, I lied. There were so many great signings I found in the last decade that I had to go Bert Newton style and select twenty to put in the list. The year with the players is the year they made their debut with their new club. All of these will be players, despite there being some amazing coaching changes during this era.
NOTE: The only rule was that signings could not include players joining brand new clubs such as South Sydney, Northern Eagles or Wests Tigers. Sorry Titans fans! Special mention to the two who just missed out, Roy Asotasi's signing to the Rabbitohs and Wendell Sailor's signing to the Dragons.
20 - TIMANA TAHU (Knights > Eels - 2005) The signing of Timana Tahu to the Eels enabled the side to bolster up their speed and skill. One of the great backs of the decade, he scored some of the best tries during the glory years of 2005-2007. His depature to Rugby Union was notable for the club, one less star in what used to be a world class backline. 19 - AMOS ROBERTS (Dragons > Panthers - 2004) The defending premiers of 2004 made a stunning signing when "Famous" Amos Roberts became the second consecutive Panther to be Top Tryscorer at the end of the year. His debut in new colours was memorable scoring four tries against the Canberra Raiders. 18 - PETER WALLACE (Panthers > Broncos - 2008) If anything has ever been a weakness to the Brisbane Broncos in the 2000's, it's the number seven jersey. Since the departure of Allan Langer, quite a number of players attempted to fill the void, but the signing of Wallace finally gave Brisbane fans a second half to get excited about. 17 - MICHAEL MONAGHAN (Raiders > Sea Eagles - 2004) When this Monaghan brother was signed to Manly, people couldn't be blamed for being indifferent about the signing. He has proven himself to be one of the players that gained glory back to Manly after the heartbreaking Northern Eagles era. Proving to be one of the most popular players at the side at the time, despite not being as big of a name as his brother, he is still an extremely memorable player. 16 - CRAIG WING (Roosters > Rabbitohs - 2008) The "Prodigal Son" of South Sydney. Craig's signing was memorable for the fact he wore a Rabbitohs jersey whilst still being a Rooster. His run-ins against his former club have been just as memorable with the infamous Riley Brown tackle. Away from the negativity, Wing has risen back to the consistently top class form that we all saw from him in the earlier stages of the decade. 15 - JAMIE SOWARD (Roosters > Dragons - 2007) Never has a mid-week signing proven itself to be something this special. Soward has proven himself to be a household name at the Dragons. His time as a Rooster junior is highly memorable, still being highly mentioned to this day. Soward's form has given Dragons fans hope for the 2009 season. 14 - BRETT HODGSON (Magpies > Eels - 2000) The signing of Hodgson gave the Eels a consistent fullback for the best part of the decade. His form as a ball runner and a slick goalkicker gave the Eels a major signing, improving from previous fullbacks. Wasn't thinking about that Paul Carige performance at all. 13 - LUKE PATTEN (Dragons > Bulldogs - 2001) Possibly one of the best players around today not to have played Origin. Patten has played a consistent and successful stint with second club the Bulldogs. This is where the list got hard to order. 12 - MATT SING (Roosters > Cowboys - 2002) One of the victims of the Roosters clean-out of 2001, Matt Sing's stint at the Cowboys was extremely successful. The speedy winger continued his consistent try scoring at his new club. A memorable night for the try scoring giant was his hat-trick against the Bulldogs in the first ever finals appearance against the Bulldogs. 11 - STEVE PRICE (Bulldogs > Warriors - 2005) One of the best forwards in the modern era, the Warriors captain has proven to be a highly consistant ball runner for his new club. All of his usual traits have passed to the Warriors, especially his value as a leader. 10 - BEN KENNEDY (Raiders > Knights - 2000) Ben Kennedy may have retired a Sea Eagle, but his time with the Knights was most memorable. The hairless lock forward featured in many of the triumphs of the Novacastrians, particularly in their successful 2001 campaign. 9 - RUBEN WIKI (Raiders > Warriors - 2005) The Warriors play for one another. Their emotion when playing for Wiki was something special to witness in 2008. One of the greatest forwards of all time, this was a major signing. 8 - ADRIAN MORLEY (Rhinos > Roosters - 2001) The signing of Morley proved that Englishmen could definitely not only survive, but thrive in the Australian league. The tough-as-nails forward caused his own legacy in the league. 7 - PETERO CIVINOCEVA (Broncos > Panthers - 2008) When Brisbane lost their battle of the Salary Cap, Penrith's signing of the big international forward begun a new era of hope for Penrith fans after multiple years of disappointment. His attitude has never changed, bringing a new sense of leadership to the boys on the mountain. 6 - MICHAEL CROCKER (Roosters > Storm - 2006) Other than that amazing winning streak, Crocker was part of the new three year era of the Storm's domination of the competition. The tough as nails approach never died. 5 - CRAIG FITZGIBBON (Dragons > Roosters - 2000) When the Roosters signed Fitzgibbon, they got themselves a never-say-die forward, a leader and a fantastic person. Now the best point scoring forward in first grade history, Fitzgibbon's ten year stint at the Roosters has been highly successful. 4 - SCOTT PRINCE (Broncos > Tigers - 2004) Prince's leadership to the Tigers 2005 Premiership enabled him to get back into the spotlight after an injury-corrupted start to his career. The off-field work he has performed also shows he is still one of the most liked players of the league. 3 - PRESTON CAMPBELL (Sharks > Panthers - 2003) Preston Campbell, sometimes seen as one of the most influential people in Rugby League. Off the field he has done fantastic work with the Aboriginal community, on the field he is one of the most destructive players. A major part of Penrith's premiership winning 2003 campaign. 2 - MATT ORFORD (Storm > Sea Eagles - 2006) A Dally M winner, Orford gave the Sea Eagles a destructive halfback in the club's greatest era since possibly the seventies. 1 - JOHNATHON THURSTON (Bulldogs > Cowboys - 2005) Were you expecting someone else? The signing of the young Bulldogs halfback has led to the Cowboys to a Grand Final and established the club to own one of the top players in the world.
Quite a lot of big name signings there. On the next edition we will look at the "Next Big Things", the juniors or signings that were meant to be something to be remembered for years to come (and obviously didn't end up being so...)