The Newsroom takes you through the transfers for the 2017 NRL season that begins in March.
Manly Sea Eagles
It is unclear whether legends Brett Stewart or Steve Matai will play for Manly again. So joining Manly will be former Newcastle winger Akuila Uate, former Wests Tiger lock Curtis Sironen, Storm five-eighth Blake Green, the lanky second rower Shaun Lane and the rookie Titan Cameron Cullen. Manly missed out on the eight in 2016 after the new combinations and their new coach Trent Barrett didn’t seem to connect. Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau, and Nate Myles all joined the Manly side and on paper, they looked like they could give the finals a shake up. In 2017, Manly cleared the decks releasing a total of 11 players telling them to go elsewhere. Jamie Lyon and Tim Moltzen retired while Josh Starling and Jamie Buhrer will head to the Newcastle Knights.
The departure of Kieran Foran mid-season due to personal issues didn’t help Parramatta’s cause. Parramatta was engulfed in a salary cap scandal where they had to let go of Nathan Peats and Junior Paulo. In 2017, coach Brad Arthur managed to gain the services of lightning quick back Josh Hoffman, super strong Manly prop Siosaia Vave and feisty Souths forward Nathan Brown. The big hombre Frank Pritchard will wear the blue and gold in his return after a stint overseas in the Super League. But there is speculation surrounding whether Fijian winger Semi Radradra will remain at the Eels or head abroad to play rugby for the French team Toulon.
Recruitment for the Chooks has been strong with them securing South Sydney Rabbitohs half Luke Keary and experienced fullback Michael Gordon but they have lost consistent prop Sam Moa to the English Super League. The Roosters re-signed Jared Warea-Hargreaves on a five-year deal and the Roosters will welcome Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s younger brother Johnny to hopefully play some first-grade matches.
In one of the most talked about signings in NRL history, the Broncos have secured the services of Benji Marshall. It is unclear where Wayne Bennett will play Marshall with Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt proving a fine halves combination. We could see Marshall out on the flanks somewhere in the back-line but Bennett is a maestro and will know where Marshall will be most suited to. Brisbane also welcome lightning quick former Titan David Mead, Townsville Blackhawk Moses Pangai and Cowboy Tautau Moga.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies have re-signed Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis and add experienced Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah. Souths lost Keary to their rivals the Sydney Roosters but they picked up Newcastle Knights enforcer Robbie Rochow to add versatility to the already gigantic forward pack that holds multiple Burgess brothers.
New Zealand Warriors
The contract hasn’t been finalised yet but the Warriors have signed Kieran Foran. He will come back fresh off his break and will add an extra spark to the backline. As over the past five years the Warriors should be top four material on paper, but in the past they have lacked consistency. If Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa Sheck, Foran and Isaac Luke are able to connect – look out!
The reigning premiers will be without Michael Ennis (retirement) and Ben Barba (released). They have snapped up big Tony Williams, underrated Penrith prop Jeremy Latimore and the shifty Manaia Cherrington as Ennis’ replacement. The Sharks will have their inspirational skipper Paul Gallen for one more year and Valentine Holmes will be fresh off a stellar Four Nations debut for Australia.
The Tigers lost Farah and Sironen but they have taken a solid bite to secure former Panther Jamal Idris for their team. The Tigers haven’t done much recruiting because they will rely on their top three Mitchell Moses, James Tedesco and Luke Brooks all recommitting. If everyone stays fit and listens to coach Jason Taylor, the Tigers could give the competition a massive shakeup.
St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons have blown fire into their team for 2017. Marshall is off to Brisbane, Mitch Rein heads to Penrith, Mike Cooper returns back home to the UK. The Dragons locked up Canberra forward Paul Vaughan, Titans winger Nene Macdonald, and the elusive former Bunny Cameron McInnes to take up the hooking role.
North Queensland Cowboys
Not many changes made for the Cowboys, but they have secured former Storm player Ben Hampton as their energetic livewire off the bench to replace Rory Kostjasyn. They have lost long-term player James Tamou to Penrith while Ben Hannant was forced to retire after he suffered an injury.
Penrith has talent all over the park with players like Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, and Bryce Cartwright. Recruitment has been on Phil Gould’s and Anthony Griffin’s mind because like all the teams, they yearn for a premiership. They were able to claw in Cowboy prop James Tamou, Tim Browne, Michael Oldfield, Mitch Rein and Jed Cartwright.
Canterbury say goodbye to their winger Curtis Rona who is heading to Rugby Union. Sam Perrett retired and the Dogs released a total of five players. They welcome into the lineup plenty of youngsters: Zac Woolford (Raiders), Josh Cleeland (Sharks), Rhyse Martin (Townsville Blackhawks), Brenko Lee (Raiders), Tom Carr (Dragons), Francis Tualau (Storm), and Richard Kennar (Storm).
Gold Coast Titans
With Jarryd Hayne signed, sealed and delivered, the Titans look good on paper. For 2017, they have signed some great up and coming players. Like Samoan youngster Paterika Vaivai and the experience of former Melbourne Storm forward Kevin Proctor. Also, a good signing is the consistent forward from Brisbane, Jarrod Wallace to bolster the forward pack. They also welcome Englishmen Dan Sarginson as a prominent utility to help fill the holes in the backline.
The Storm will open round one in 2017 with their big three names, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, still on the books. If they can stay together for most of the season, they will pose a massive threat to the rest of the competition. They said farewell to Blake Green who now becomes a Sea Eagle but they picked up the electric former Wests Tiger Josh Addo-Carr which will be an exciting prospect for the purple and gold. The biggest mover was Marika Koroibete who is now part of the Wallabies lineup.
Ricky Stuart’s men had a great 2016 season. They finally clicked and finished a surprising third. In 2017, they have been able to secure Dunamis Lui from the Dragons, the gentle giant Makahesi Makatoa from the Bulldogs and Jordan Turner from St Helens. The green machine will definitely be a force come 2017 with their best 17 from 2016 still intact.
The Knights , who finished with the dreaded wooden spoon for the past two years, have recruited well. They notched up the services of former Sea Eagle back-rower Jamie Buhrer and Cowboy Rory Kostjasyn. Former winger for the Parramatta Eels Ken Sio returns to the NRL after a short stint in the Super League to add some electricity to the edges. Young gun Jaelen Feeney will return from time off because of a broken leg but a pre-season injury to Jarrod Mullen is causing some concern. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of the NRL premiership trophy being held aloft the Cronulla Sharks from the NRL Twitter feed.