Well, I can’t say I saw this one coming. It has been officially announced that Hull FC have signed Sean Long for next season on a two year deal. Long had been vocal about his disappointment that St Helens had not been offering him a two-year contract.
I think the fact that this has been sorted out so early offers an indication into Long’s mindset. He’s approaching the end of his career and is beyond the point where he wants to faff around. He clearly thinks he’s got something to offer for the next two years, so why wouldn’t he take up the longer deal? At least he’s got it all sorted out now, as we’re fast approaching the business end of the season and I doubt contract talks were something Long wanted distracting him at crunch time.
This also clearly offers some insight into the thinking at Hull FC as well. This experiment with Chris Thorman hasn’t really panned out after a good start, and they will obviously be looking for the experience that Long offers to have a stabilizing effect at the club. However, with this signing added to that of Craig Fitzgibbon, there’s a lot of veteran players coming into the KC Stadium next year, and you have to wonder how wise a move that is considering their notorious injury problems over the last few years. If Long or Fitzgibbon fail, they’ve set themselves up to take a lot of flak.
Of course, it will be interesting to see what Saints will do now. Long has been the lynchpin of their attacking game for over a decade now, but Saints have clearly been about his successor for a while, with both Matty Smith and Kyle Eastmond logging up game time in the past few seasons. Smith appears to have fallen out of favour and I’m not convinced that they think Eastmond is where they want him to be (although the dilemma of course is that they haven’t been able to start with Long there). We shall see if Saints are happy with what they’ve got, or if they feel the need to bring someone else in.