This week has seen reports emerging that Salford Red Devils have agreed a six figure some with Warrington for second rower Ben Murdoch-Masila, a man who rightfully earned his place in the 2017 Super League Dream Team. There is no questioning his ability as a player and he was a huge part of Salford’s great first half of the season but would he be a good signing for the Wolves?
Well, as I said, you can’t knock the man’s ability and you can’t knock Warrington for splashing the cash on such a dynamic and effective forward. This season, he has scored 14 tries in 24 Super League appearances – no mean feat for a forward and, barring Leeds’ hooker Matt Parcell, he was the top scoring forward in the competition. He was the fourth highest metre maker from Salford’s pack with 1698 metres in total. Comparing this to his potential new teammates from Cheshire, their leading metre maker was prop Chris Hill with 2058 and only one other forward – Jack Hughes – beat Murdoch Masila’s record. There is no doubting that, ability wise, he would mark an improvement for the Wolves’ pack for 2018 albeit for a large fee. His pace and power would definitely add to them.
But my concern is leadership, both at Salford and Warrington, combined with his loss of form in the Super 8s – only one try – and his average gain dropped as well. In fact, all of his statistics dropped, along with the whole team. Was leadership the issue? Or lack of big game experience? Perhaps their achievements of even reaching the Super 8s after the 2016 million pound game saw them switch off thereafter – but Murdoch Masila didn’t have the leadership to drag his team through matches, to get them points. Is that what Warrington need? A team that so badly struggled in 2016. Should a team with all of the natural ability and experience the Wolves had have ended up in the middle 8s? Definitely not and nobody would have expected that at the start of the season. Murdoch Masila’s ability isn’t at all in question – he was arguably the best second rower in the competition this season – but is he the sort of player Warrington should be spending thousands on to improve them? Do they need leaders to drag them out of the lull they are in rather than more ability – after all, they have had ability in their squad for years and not achieved what many expected them to. For me, leadership is required – not big money ability.
But what do you think? Comment on here or on twitter and let’s talk!
Image from http://www.skysports.com/rugby-league/news/12207/10733211/salford-forward-ben-murdoch-masila-ruled-out-for-10-weeks-with-knee-injury