This week saw Leigh Centurions forward Gareth Hock depart the recently relegated team, citing reason of wanting to remain in the top flight of British rugby league. But, at the age of 34, which clubs are likely to give the former Wigan player a contract, especially with the added history he brings with him.
In 2009, Hock was issued with a two year suspension for taking cocaine and has the dubious honour of being the most banned player in Super League history. He also, in 2015, was quoted as saying “God only knows how I have never done time.” A man who, granted, acknowledges these shortcomings surely wouldn’t be of appeal to a team wanting to make waves at the top end of the competition – a shame because, on his day, he is most certainly a force.
An acromonious departure from Salford leaves a return move to the Red Devils looking very unlikely, a saga which led to outspoken chairman Marwan Koukash and his Leigh counterpart Derek Beaumont making an appearance on ITV’s Judge Rinder program. In addition to this, while some fans are suggesting that Catalans may be a possible destination, I don’t quite buy it. Under former England coach Steve McNamara, the Dragons will be hoping for a substantial rebuild over the winter as they aim to correct the failings which saw them in the Million Pound Game in 2017. Would Hock buy into a professional mentality that they are sure to impose? I’m not sure. The fact he has made it plain that he has left The Leythers in order to return to Super League would also rule out Canadian moneybags Toronto Wolfpack who, otherwise, would surely have been interested.
Widnes Vikings seems like a much more probable destination. A place where he has played in his past, he may be the experienced enforcer the Cheshire outfit require. In 2013, Hock made eighteen appearances and scored ten tries while on loan from Wigan and these will no doubt leave him with fond memories of his time at the Select Security Stadium. Coach Denis Betts is also a man of great experience who has worked with the forward before during his spell at Wigan in the mid-noughties – could he be the man who ensures Hock remains on the right side of the law in his rugby league swansong?
There is likely to be some interest in bringing Hock back into Super League and it will be interesting to see not only where he ends up but, also, how he performs.