A whole 17 days have passed since the NRL grand final which means it’s time for a way-too-early look at how every side will line up in the 2023 season opener.
There’s mass turnover at some clubs, while others are largely keeping the band together.
Penrith will look to become the first team since the Eels in 1983 to win three straight titles, but they’ll have to do it without two of their most important players.
Plenty of pundits have slammed Parramatta’s premiership window shut after the grand finalists watched five of their best 17 move clubs.
At the other end of the ladder, incoming Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has cleaned out the roster, and the Bulldogs will look very different under highly-rated rookie Cameron Ciraldo.
Here foxsports.com.au has compiled an early look at every club’s Round 1 team for 2023.
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1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Luke Garner 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon
Coming: Luke Garner (Tigers)
Going: Api Koroisau (Wests Tigers), Viliame Kikau (Bulldogs), Robert Jennings (Dolphins), J’maine Hopgood (Eels), Sean O’Sullivan (Dolphins)
Unsigned: Jaeman Salmon, Christian Crichton, Matt Eisenhuth
Analysis: The core of the team will stay the same but Panthers do have two huge voids to fill in star hooker Api Koroisau (Tigers) and gun second-rower Viliame Kikau (Bulldogs). New recruit Luke Garner will likely replace Kikau, while Mitch Kenny started the final four games of 2022 in the No.9 jersey and will share the role with NSW Cup breakout star Soni Luke.Jaeman Salmon was a regular member of the 17 last season but is yet to re-sign for 2023. However, he told foxsports.com.au the club has tabled an extension. As for Penrith’s extended roster, their halves depth has copped a hit with Sean O’Sullivan joining the Dolphins and Kurt Falls yet to re-sign. Veteran winger Robert Jennings will join O’Sullivan at the Dolphins, while NSW Cup Lock of the Year, J’maine Hopgood is off to the Eels. Matt Eisenhuth is expected to re-sign before pre-season kicks off.
Injuries/suspensions: Taylan May still has a two-game suspension to serve after being found guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm in September. ARL Chair Peter V’landys approved the young winger to serve it next season in a bizarre call.
1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolph 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Royce Hunt 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Dale Finucane 14. Connor Tracey 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Braden Hamlin-Uele 17. Jack Williams
Coming: Oregon Kaufusi (Eels)
Going: Luke Metcalf (Warriors), Aiden Tolman (retirement)
Unsigned: Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Mawene Hiroti, Jensen Taumoepeau
Analysis: The Sharks side which charged up the ladder to finish second in 2022 under rookie coach Craig Fitzgibbon has stayed largely intact with only veteran forwards Andrew Fifita (unsigned) and Aiden Tolman (retired) as well as rookie half Luke Metcalf (Warriors) confirmed as leaving. Fifita is yet to secure a new deal but told foxsports.com.au in September that he’s “very confident” he will. Skipper Wade Graham is yet to lock in his future but he is expected to go round for one more season with the Sharks.
Injuries/suspensions:Braden Hamlin-Uele suffered a lower leg injury in Samoa’s first World Cup game but is expected to recover by Round 1. Sione Katoa suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in July but is expected to be ready to go for the opener.
Italian debutant grabs Hattrick | 00:47
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Heilum Luki 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Mitchell Dunn 16. Coen Hess 17. Griffin Neame
Going: Connelly Lemuelu, Tom Gilbert, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (all Dolphins)
Unsigned: Kane Bradley, Jake Bourke, Brendan Frei, Emry Pere
Analysis: The Cowboys unearthed then lost Tom Gilbert (Dolphins) but they’ve got a young gun ready to replace him. Backrower Heilum Luki is hopeful of returning for the season opener after rupturing his ACL in Round 14 and he’ll form a formidable back-row partnership alongside Dally M rookie of the year Jeremiah Nanai. North Queensland have also lost backline utility Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and emerging second-rower Connelly Lemuelu to the Dolphins. Tabuai-Fidow filled the bench utility role when he returned from injury last season, but veteran Jake Granville step into that job in 2023.
Injuries/suspensions: At this stage, Luciano Leilua has been stood down under the NRL’s no-fault policy and unavailable for Round 1. Mitchell Dunn and Heilum Luki suffered ACL injuries in March and June respectively.
Doueihi sent off in mysterious fashion | 01:03
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Waqa Blake 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Jack Murchie 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Mitch Rein 15. Makahesi Makatoa 16. Bryce Cartwright 17. Jake Arthur
Coming: Josh Hodgson (Raiders), Jack Murchie (Warriors), J’maine Hopgood (Eels), Jirah Momoisea (Knights)
Going: Marata Niukore (Warriors), Isaiah Papali’i (Wests Tigers), Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks), Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Ray Stone (Dolphins), Tom Opacic (Hull KR)
Unsigned: Hayze Perham, David Hollis, Solomone Naiduki
Analysis: Parramatta’s looming mass turnover was discussed all year and now it’s time to work out how they replace five regular members of their best 17. The Eels have signed Josh Hodgson (Raiders), J’maine Hopgood (Panthers), Jack Murchie (Warriors) and Jirah Momoisea (Knights). The good news is their backline remains largely intact but the Eels have lost Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers), Marata Niukore (Warriors), Tom Opacic (Hull) and Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks). Throw in Ryan Matterson (suspended) plus Nathan Brown’s expected departure and their Round 1 side will look very different to the 17 who ran out on grand final day. Hodgson is expected to start at No.9 but given he’s coming off an ACL injury, coach Brad Arthur may include Mitch Rein on the bench as cover. With Ryan Matterson out suspended, new recruits Murchie and Hopgood could get their shot in the opener.
Injuries/suspensions: Ryan Matterson will miss the opening three games after accepting a ban instead of paying a $4000 fine for a crusher tackle in the grand final, a decision which saw him widely slammed. Bailey Simonsson injured his shoulder in the decider and doctors are still assessing the damage, but only a full reconstruction would put him in doubt for Round 1.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Tui Kamikamica 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Tariq Sims 16. Alec MacDonald 17. Trent Loiero
Coming: Joe Chan (Catalans), Eliesa Katoa (Warriors), Tariq Sims (Dragons), Aaron Pene (Warriors)
Going: Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi (all Dolphins), Brandon Smith (Roosters), David Nofoaluma (return to Tigers)
Unsigned: Cooper Johns, Chris Lewis
Analysis: Melbourne’s pack has been decimated with the loss of Brandon Smith (Roosters) and veteran trio Felise Kaufusi, Jesse Bromwich and Kenny Bromwich, who are all joining the Dolphins. The good news is though that Christian Welch is expected back on deck from an Achille injury in time for Round 1 and new recruit Tariq Sims will add the experience the club is losing in Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers. New recruit Eli Katoa has an opportunity to start in the second row, while Nick Meaney’s efforts last season filling in at fullback, in the halves or on the wing could see him rewarded with selection over George Jennings, who is returning from an ACL injury.
Injuries/suspensions:Reimis Smith missed a chunk of last season with a pectoral injury but is expected to be return for Round 1, as are Welch and Jennings who suffered their respective injuries in Round 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen will also be a welcome return after a disrupted 2022.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Angus Crichton 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Connor Watson 15. Egan Butcher 16. Fletcher Baker 17. Terrell May
Coming: Brandon Smith (Storm)
Going: Sam Verrills (Titans), Siosiua Taukeiaho (Catalans), Kevin Naiqama (Huddersfield), Oliver Gildart (returning to Tigers from loan)
Unsigned: Angus Crichton, Matt Lodge, Adam Keighran
Analysis: There’s no major changes expected for the Roosters except for their star signing Brandon Smith stepping into the No.9 jersey. With Sitili Tupouniua not expected back from an ACL injury, Nat Butcher will hold onto his starting spot in the second row, while Paul Momirovski will have little competition for his jersey with Billy Smith still injured, Oliver Gildart returning to the Tigers and both Kevin Naiqama and Adam Keighran leaving the club. Coach Trent Robinson played Mr. Fix It Drew Hutchison in the centres for their final four games last season and could do so again in Round 1. Angus Crichton and Matt Lodge remain unsigned for next season, however the former has confirmed he has agreed to a two-year deal. Lodge’s future is still up in the air, but we’ll get a better idea of it when pre-season kicks off. For now, he’s been left out of the best 17 for that reason.
Injuries/suspensions: Lindsay Collins and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will serve respective hip-drop and dangerous contact suspensions during the World Cup and be free for Round 1 selection. Sitili Tupouniua and Billy Smith may still be some time off returning from ACL injuries suffered in July.
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1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Liam Knight 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Siliva Havili 15. Tom Burgess 16. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 17. Jacob Host
Going: Mark Nicholls (Dolphins), Kodi Nikorima (Dolphins)
Unsigned: Josh Mansour, Jaxson Paulo
Analysis:Alex Johnston is expected to return from a hip flexor injury that cut his 2022 season short, with Richie Kennar to drop out. Lachlan Ilias is tipped to hold off a challenge from NSW Cup Halfback of the Year Dean Hawkins for the No.7 jersey after his solid rookie campaign in 2022. Liam Knight is due back from a knee injury and will replace Mark Nicholls, who has moved to the Dolphins in the front row. Jai Arrow is expected to return form a nagging groin injury that he re-aggravated in the preliminary final and take his place in the back row. Siliva Havili returns from a calf injury in the utility role vacated by Kodi Nikorima’s departure to the Dolphins. Thomas Burgess returns from suspension in place of Hame Sele on the bench. Daniel Suluka-Fifita replaces Michael Chee Kam on the bench after a full pre-season with the Rabbitohs following his mid-season switch from the Roosters in 2022. Jacob Host returns from a shoulder injury and replaces Jed Cartwright on the bench.
Injuries/suspensions: Taane Milne’s availability will depend on Fiji’s World Cup finish. He copped a six-game ban in his final game of last season and has been cleared to serve it during the World Cup. Four games will be ticked off by the end of the group stage — including a warm-up game against England. If Fiji don’t make the finals Milne will miss the first two games of 2023, but if they make the semi-finals he will be free for Round 1.
“Should be proud” Latrell praises Fiji | 03:17
1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Tom Starling 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Zac Woolford 15. Corey Horsburgh 16. Emre Guler 17. Pasami Saulo
Coming: Pasami Saulo (Knights)
Going: Josh Hodgson (Eels), Adam Elliott (Knights), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Warriors), Ryan Sutton (Bulldogs)
Unsigned: Sam Williams (released)
Analysis: Ricky Stuart’s 17 will remain largely the same come Round 1 after being bundled out of the finals in week two by the eventual runners-up. Josh Hodgson will depart for the Eels but was sidelined for majority of the season with an ACL injury. Meanwhile, Adam Elliott (Knights), Ryan Sutton (Bulldogs) and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s (Warriors) exit will leave holes to be filled. Corey Harawira-Naera is a strong chance of wearing the No. 13 jersey, while new signing Pasami Saulo (Knights) could take Sutton’s spot on the pine. Hooker Tom Starling has long been touted as the club’s first choice hooker but failed to cement his starting spot in 2022. The 24-year-old will be desperate to stake his claim for the No.9 jersey and could edge Zac Woolford out and win the dummy-half spot, with Woolford playing the utility role.
Injuries and suspensions:Jarrod Croker suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery during the Raiders’ Round 9 clash against the Bulldogs. The veteran centre is only eight games away from reaching the 300-game milestone and with one year and a player option left on his contract will be hoping to return to the field as soon as possible.
1. Reece Walsh 2. Selwyn Cobbo 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Corey Oates 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Pat Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Keenan Palasia 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. TC Robati
Coming: Reece Walsh (Warriors), Jesse Arthars (returning from loan deal at Warriors)
Going: Brenko Lee (Dolphins), Te Maire Martin (Warriors), Tyson Gamble (Knights)
Unsigned: Ryan James (retired), Jake Turpin, Tyrone Roberts, Rhys Kennedy, Billy Walters, David Mead (retired)
Analysis: Marquee recruit Reece Walsh will make his Broncos return in the No.1 jersey to kick-off the club’s 2023 campaign. Jesse Arthars will also return from a loan deal with the Warriors, however he is unlikely to shift Kotoni Staggs or Herbie Farnworth out of the centres. Young gun Ezra Mam will likely partner Adam Reynolds in the halves after being dropped for Round 25. Billy Walters remains without a contract for 2023, but reports suggest he has signed a two-year extension which should see him line-up at hooker. Otherwise, the forward pack of Thomas Flegler, Payne Haas, Kurt Capewell, Pat Carrigan will be joined by Jordan Riki who was sidelined late last season with an eye injury. Zac Hosking has reportedly signed with the Panthers, while Brenko Lee (Dolphins), Te Maire Martin (Warriors) and Tyson Gamble (Knights) will all depart Red Hill. Hosking’s exit will likely see Kevin Walters pick TC Robati on the bench alongside Keenan Palasia, Cory Paix and Kobe Hetherington.
Injuries and suspensions:Kobe Hetherington was ruled out for the season after an ugly head knock in August but will be fit for Round 1 of the 2023 season. Meanwhile, Jordan Riki suffered an eye injury during a wrestle with teammate Thomas Flegler but is expected to return next season.
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1. Cody Ramsey 2. Mikaele Ravalawa 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mat Feagai 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Jack de Belin 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Tyrell Fuimaono 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack Bird 14. Moses Mbye 15. Jaiyden Hunt 16. Zane Musgrove 17. Michael Molo
Coming: Zane Musgrove (Tigers)
Going: Jackson Ford (Warriors), Poasa Faamausili (Dolphins), Jackson Ford (Warriors), Tariq Sims (Storm)
Unsigned: Jack Gosiewski, Josh McGuire (retired), Tautau Moga
Analysis: The makeup of Anthony Griffin’s side hinges on the future of two young guns – Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Sullivan. Sloan has now committed to the club, while Sullivan has been left disgruntled by Ben Hunt’s re-signing. Sloan will now compete with Mat Feagai and Cody Ramsey for a spot in the backline, with Sullivan could still take Andrew McCullough or Moses Mbye’s utility spot. Meanwhile, Moses Suli will return in the centres, new signing Jacob Liddle is a strong chance of starting in the No.9, forcing McCullough out of the 17 and Tyrell Fuimaono could slot into the backrow in place of the outgoing Tariq Sims and Josh McGuire. Francis Molo will be serving a suspension, while his brother Michael will likely line-up on the bench alongside new signing Zane Musgrove who was granted an early release from his Tigers contract.
Injuries and suspensions:Francis Molo still has two games to serve on a four-game ban handed down for a swinging arm tackle on Titans back Patrick Herbert. Meanwhile, Moses Mbye will be able to return in Round 1 for a grade 2 careless high tackle on Phillip Sami.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Reuben Garrick 3. Tolu Koula 4. Brad Parker 5. Jason Saab 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Sean Keppie 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Karl Lawton 15. Toafofoa Sipley 16. Taniela Paseka 17. Ben Trbojevic
Coming: Kelma Tuilagi (Tigers)
Going: Kieran Foran (Titans), Dylan Walker (Warriors), Martin Taupau (unsigned), Andrew Davey (unsigned)
Unsigned: Morgan Boyle, Andrew Davey, Kurt De Luis, Kieran Foran (Titans), Martin Taupau, Dylan Walker (Warriors)
Analysis: The return of Tom Trbojevic will be a timely one for whoever takes the reins in Manly. The gun fullback will return from a shoulder injury next season, alongside Reuben Garrick, who also suffered a shoulder blow late in the 2022 campaign. Garrick will take a spot on the wing with Jason Saab, shifting Christian Tuipulotu from the team. Brad Parker is a chance of winning one centre spot alongside Tolu Koula. Kieran Foran’s departure will likely see Josh Schuster make his long-awaited move into the halves. Tigers recruit Kelma Tuilagi is also a strong chance of starting in the backrow ahead of Ben Trbojevic and Ethan Bullemor. Dylan Walker’s move to the Warriors opens a path for Karl Lawton to play the utility role upon return from a season-ending ACL rupture. Martin Taupau remains unsigned for the 2023 season, meaning Toafofoa Sipley and Taniela Paseka make up the bench with Sean Keppie and Josh Aloiai starting at prop.
Injuries and suspensions: Both Tom Trbojevic and Reuben Garrick will have recovered from shoulder injuries prior to Round 1 next season, while Jason Saab’s ACL blow will impact pre-season training next year.
DCE reveals ongoing talks with Des | 01:30
1. Jake Averillo 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Braidon Burns 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Luke Thompson 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Tevita Pangai-Junior 13. Josh Jackson 14. Zack Dockar-Clay 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Chris Patolo
Coming: Viliame Kikau (Panthers), Reed Mahoney (Eels), Ryan Sutton (Raiders)
Going: Jack Hetherington (Knights), Jeremy Marshall-King (Dolphins), Paul Vaughan (Warrington), Joe Stimson (Titans)
Unsigned: Josh Cook, Matt Doorey, Reece Hoffman, Tuipulotu Katoa, Jackson Topine, Brandon Wakeham, Zach Dockar-Clay, Declan Casey, Josh Stuckey, Harrison Edwards
Analysis: The Bulldogs welcome a trio of recruits ready to debut in the famous blue and white strip under rookie coach Cameron Ciraldo. Viliame Kikau will take one backrow spot, while Reed Mahoney has a mortgage on the No.9 jersey. Former Raiders big man Ryan Sutton looks likely to take a spot on the bench with Max King and Luke Thompson forming a strong front row partnership. The Bulldogs’ Round 25 backline will likely remain in 2023 and as it stands, Kyle Flanagan will partner Matt Burton in the halves again. The Bulldogs reported chase of Jayden Sullivan could decide his future in Belmore with only a year left on his current deal. Meanwhile, Tevita Pangai-Junior is expected to come back with a bang after a turbulent 2022 season. The former Broncos backrower made a shock decision to prioritise the Bulldogs over Tonga’s World Cup campaign. The 26-year-old is desperate to turn his fortunes around and will likely earn a spot on an edge. Veteran Josh Jackson looks set to wear the No.13 jersey next season.
Injuries and suspensions: The entire playing group are expected to be fully fit come Round 1.
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1. Jayden Campbell 2. Greg Marzhew 3. Brian Kelly 4. Phillip Sami 5. Jojo Fifita 6. AJ Brimson 7. Kieran Foran 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Sam Verrills 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. David Fifita 12. Beau Fermor 13. Erin Clark 14. Paul Turner 15. Joe Stimson 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Isaac Liu
Coming: Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles), Sam Verrills (Roosters), Joe Stimson (Bulldogs)
Going: Jarrod Wallace (Dolphins), Jamayne Isaako (Dolphins), Herman Ese’ese (Dolphins)
Unsigned: Esan Marsters, Corey Thompson (retired), Aaron Booth, Shallin Fuller
Analysis: Coach Justin Holbrook has a headache in his hands regarding the make-up of his spine with veteran playmaker Kieran Foran joining the club. Tanah Boyd finished the season playing halfback but will likely be replaced by Foran, despite playing five-eighth for the Sea Eagles with Daly Cherry-Evans in the No.7 jersey. AJ Brimson will likely retain the five-eighth spot, allowing young gun Jayden Campbell to wear the No.1 jersey. Jojo Fifita could make the switch to the centres, however Brian Kelly and Phillip Sami may be Holbrook’s preferred options. Sam Verrills will debut in the No.9 jersey, while Bulldogs recruit Joe Stimson is set to line-up on the bench. Paul Turner looks set to play the utility role and retain his spot from Round 25 last season, while Erin Clark has impressed at lock and could be the club’s long-term No.13.
Injuries and suspensions:Aaron Booth suffered an ugly knee injury in early August, collapsing at a right angle while attempting to tackle Storm five-eighth Cooper Johns. The 27-year-old required a multi-ligament reconstruction surgery. Unfortunately he is unsigned for the 2023 season and was midway through contract negotiations when he suffered the blow, however the club are reportedly negotiating a deal for 2023 despite his 12-month recovery period.
Manu masterclass leads NZ to win | 01:11
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Dom Young 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemme, 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Jack Hetherington 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Mat Croker 17. Brodie Jones
Coming: Adam Elliott (Raiders), Jack Hetherington (Bulldogs), Tyson Gamble (Broncos)
Going: Mitchell Barnett (Warriors), Edrick Lee (Dolphins), Jirah Momoisea (Eels), Tex Hoy (Hull FC), Anthony Milford (Dolphins), Sauaso Sue (Hull KR), Pasami Saulo (Raiders)
Unsigned: Brayden Musgrove, Phoenix Crossland
Analysis: Adam O’Brien is facing a huge headache after superstar Kalyn Ponga was touted to make a big switch to the halves. While Knights fans are desperate to see their marquee player with his hands on the ball, the 24-year-old looks set to remain at fullback after the signing of Broncos five-eighth Tyson Gamble. The Knights are also short of options at the back after Tex Hoy’s departure. O’Brien has added two talented forwards to his pack for 2023 who will likely slot straight into the starting side. Adam Elliott was impressive for the Raiders and looks set to wear the No.13 jersey long term, while Bulldogs enforcer Jack Hetherington will fight for a place on an edge with Brodie Jones and Mat Croker. Kurt Mann’s return from a long-term quad injury could cause further headaches, however his utility value could see him wear the No.14 jersey. The front-row trio of David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Jacob Saifiti once again look imposing, while Jayden Brailey will be fit and firing come Round 1 next season, hoping to stay on the field in 2023.
Injuries and suspensions: The Knights are expected to be fully fit come Round 1.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Edward Kosi 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Tohu Harris 11. Marata Niukore 12. Josh Curran 13. Mitch Barnett 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Bayley Sironen
Coming: Mitch Barnett (Knights), Jackson Ford (Dragons), Te Maire Martin (Broncos), Luke Metcalf (Sharks), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders), Marata Niukore (Eels), Dylan Walker (Sea Eagles)
Going: Reece Walsh (Broncos), Eli Katoa, Aaron Pene (both Storm), Euan Aitken (Dolphins), Jack Murchie (Eels), Jesse Arthars (return from loan to Broncos)
Unsigned: Daejarn Asi, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Dunamis Lui, Pride Petterson-Robati, Iliesa Ratuva
Analysis: Big changes are coming for the Warriors with some key players leaving and a stack of new faces arriving. The big hole will be Reece Walsh at fullback and new coach Andrew Webster will have new recruits Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Te Maire Martin and Luke Metcalf to choose from to fill that void. We’re tipping Webster to play it safe with his spine to start the season with Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback, allowing the versatile Martin to play five-eighth and Metcalf unfortunately missing out. Marquee signing Marata Niukore will slot into the starting second row and Mitch Barnett is likely to line up at lock, while Dylan Walker can be the Warriors’ supersub. With Jazz Tevaga under an injury cloud new signing Jackson Ford may land a spot on the bench for the opening rounds.
Injuries/suspensions: Shaun Johnson (calf), Marcelo Montoya (knee), Bayley Sironen (groin) all missed the end of last season but are expected to be fully recovered in time for Round 1. Jazz Tevaga may take a little longer having undergone off-season shoulder surgery.
1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Brent Naden 4. Oliver Gildart 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. Alex Twal 9. Api Koroisau 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Shawn Blore 13. Jackson Hastings 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Fonua Pole 16. Stefano Utoikamanu 17. Justin Matamua
Coming: Api Koroisau (Panthers), Isaiah Papali’i (Eels), Oliver Gildart (returning from Roosters loan deal), David Nofoaluma (returning from Storm deal)
Going: Luke Garner (Panthers), Jock Madden (Broncos), Zane Musgrove (Dragons), Kelma Tuilagi (Sea Eagles)
Unsigned: Fa’amanu Brown, Tom Freebairn William Kei, Henry O’Kane, Tommy Talau, James Tamou
Analysis: There will be some key changes to the Round 1 side compared to the final game of last season with Api koroisau and Isaiah Papali’i joining the club, David Nofoaluma and Oliver Gildart returning from loan deals and Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings back from injury. Five of those six will slot straight back into the starting side, but Gildart may have to fight for a spot in the centres given he was dropped to reserve grade last season before switching to the Roosters. The highly-rated Shawn Blore should be available for selection after missing the entire 2022 season due to an ACL injury and is an option to replace the departing Kelma Tuilagi in the second row. There have been rumours of a return to Penrith for Tyrone Peachey, but at this stage he is contracted until the end of 2023 and his versatility could score him a spot on the bench. Nu Brown was revelation for the Tigers last season but has not been re-signed just yet and has been linked to the Bulldogs. If the Tigers can lock Brown in, he will take that bench utility role over Peachey. Train-and-trial player Tom Freebairn spent some time in the forwards but given he hasn’t been re-signed yet, young second-rower Justin Matamua seems the most likely option to get the final bench spot.
Injuries/suspensions: Cavalry will return in Round 1 with Luke Brooks (calf) and Jackson Hastings (ankle) back on deck.Alex Twal will be back in action too after missing a chunk of last season due to a nasty head knock, while Shawn Blore (knee), Stefano Utoikamanu (wrist) and Tommy Talau (knee) will be available too. Alex Seyfarth’s return may take a little longer after undergoing surgery on a ruptured pectoral in August.
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Robert Jennings 4. Euan Aitken 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Tom Gilbert 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Ray Stone 16. Jarrod Wallace 17. Connelly Lemuelu
Analysis: There’s still a lot to play out in the Dolphins’ recruitment phase given there’s still six spots of the Top 30 to fill but from what they’ve pulled together so far every position is filled. Tom Gilbert has spent majority of his NRL career playing on an edge but he may still just edge out Ray Stone, who is coming back from an ACL injury, for the No.13 jersey. Storm trio Felise Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers will start in the pack, as will Rabbitohs recruit Mark Nicholls. Anthony Milford and Sean O’Sullivan will likely get first shot in the halves, however Kodi Nikorima will be hot on their heels. Speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will line up at fullback after gaining an early release from the Cowboys.
Injuries/suspensions:Ray Stone suffered an ACL injury in the early rounds of last season and is expected to be fit by Round 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will also return home from the World Cup early with a syndesmosis injury according to the Courier Mail’s Travis Meyn. The injury could requires surgery and the former Cowboys could face a three month recovery period.