Hull FC came into 2018 with six of their best players out of contract at the end of the season.
It was a fact which scared many fans out there wondering what would happen beyond the end of the campaign.
When Albert Kelly performed well during the club’s two-match tour in Australia and bagged a brace during a narrow loss to St George Illawarra Dragons, it was almost presumed he would go back to the NRL.
But Hull got the deal over the line and retained one of the best players on the field in the Super League.
It wasn’t the start, though, that happened way back in March when Carlos Tuimavave was the first of the top-line talent to commit to new terms by agreeing a deal until the end of 2020.
Kelly soon followed by signing until the end of 2020 in April before Fetuli Talanoa’s one-year extension was revealed last month.
Then came the quickfire announcements, with Jake Connor’s new deal until the end of 2021 revealed last week before today’s double contract revelation with Mark Minichiello and Sika Manu committing.
Hull fans would have been backing the club to re-sign the likes of Tuimavave, Talanoa and Minichiello if they wanted to but deals for Connor, Kelly and Manu in particular are fantastic pieces of business.
Connor has shown the world what he can do and made a great start to his England career last month, we all know what Kelly can produce and coach Lee Radford has revealed Hull fought off NRL interest to retain Manu.
It’s a testament to the environment Radford and co have built with the backing of owner Adam Pearson.
In Manu’s first season he was allowed to travel back home to play for Tonga in a mid-season Test match and there is no doubt little things like that have hit home in the last month as the back rower decided his future.
Whilst new signings are sometimes key to improving sides like we saw ahead of 2016, as critical is making sure you don’t lose your best players.
For the first time Radford won’t have to spend the next off-season trying to replace someone. It’s something which offers intriguing possibilities for 2019, especially when you add on the arrival of Lewis Bienek and the prospect of a potential extension for Joe Westerman down the line.
But the added positives of these six top-line retentions this year is the fact that Hull have got them done without fuss and announced them in early July.
With the club still in the hunt for the play-offs despite an injury ravaged season, it brings everyone from the players and the fans together again for an end-of-year push.