Five to watch in 2014

  • Last Updated: January 31 2014, 12:40 GMT

Ian Laybourn picks out his five players to watch in the new First Utility Super League season.

Lama Tasi: Very exciting recruit for Salford this season
Lama Tasi: Very exciting recruit for Salford this season

Mose Masoe (St Helens)

The man nicknamed the "Smiling Assassin" looks set to be a box-office hit, especially after his explosive cameo displays for Samoa in the World Cup.

The 20st-prop will miss the start of the season after undergoing ankle surgery but it will not be long before he is making his considerable presence felt on opponents.

"It takes a lot to pull him down," said St Helens coach Nathan Brown. "He's got a certain skill set that we think will help us improve.

"He's also likeable character, I like to think will provide some personality for the game."

Matthew Russell (Warrington)

Sam Tomkins' old understudy went to Australia to further his career and, although he failed to make Gold Coast Titans' NRL team, he will be better for the experience.

The 20-year-old full-back, who made six Super League appearances for Hull in 2012 while on loan from Wigan, had already agreed to return to the UK on a two-year deal with Warrington before he went on to make a big impact for Scotland in the World Cup.

His dazzling displays which helped take the Bravehearts to the quarter-finals marked him out as one of the players to watch in 2014.

"We don't bring many in and they've got to be of high quality," said Warrington coach Tony Smith. He's got a great attitude and I really look forward to working with him."

Michael Weyman (Hull KR)

Wayne Bennett famously said he would have the 6ft 1in, 18st front rower in any team he coached and the player looks sure to become a crowd favourite in east Hull with no-nonsense charges into defenders.

British fans got a glimpse of his skill when he helped St George Illawarra to a 21-15 win over Wigan in the World Club Challenge at the DW Stadium in 2011 and, still only 29 despite his balding appearance, he has plenty to offer.

"Michael is a big bloke and a class player who will bring a lot of quality and experience to our team," Rovers coach Craig Sandercock said.

"He'll also provide terrific leadership to our younger players. It will be a great opportunity to learn from someone who has played consistently at the top level in Australia."

Matt Bowen (Wigan)

When North Queensland declined to offer their long-serving full-back a new contract, Wigan jumped at the chance to secure his services as a replacement for Sam Tomkins.

His record tally of 130 tries from 270 appearances with the Cowboys illustrate his brilliant attacking flair and he would have added considerably to his solitary cap for the Kangaroos and his 10 appearances for Queensland but for the presence of Billy Slater.

Bowen might be seven years older than Tomkins and with two dodgy knees but Wigan coach Shaun Wane is excited at the prospect of him bringing his devastating play to Super League.

"He has been absolutely mind-blowing in training," Wane said. "The players have been amazed by some of the things that he does."

Lama Tasi (Salford)

The former Sydney Roosters forward announced himself to the rugby league world when he nearly knocked out Greg Bird with a monster shoulder charge in 2011 which earned him the nickname "Bondi Bruiser".

Brisbane agreed to release him after just 74 days with the Broncos but Salford coach Brian Noble had seen enough during a visit to the Roosters two years ago to realise his potential.

"Not only is he an impressive man, he is an impressive presence and he can play too," Noble said.

"At 23, we have got an emerging talent from Australia and he will do really well for us. I'm excited."


New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30