Adam Reynolds headlined a host of big-name transfers ahead of the 2022 NRL season and the veteran halfback almost took the Broncos back to the promised land.
Nicho Hynes stunned the NRL by dominating as the Sharks No. 7 en route to winning the Dally M Medal.
Bulldogs recruit Tevita Pangai Junior spent time in reserve grade this season despite earning close to $1 million.
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George Burgess had high hopes of a successful NRL return but it ended in tears with the Englishman leaving the club with a year to run on his contract.
Ricky Stuart’s star recruit Jamal Fogarty sat out the first 12 weeks before guiding the Raiders to an unlikely finals berth.
Chad Townsend helped resurrect the Cowboys, while the Storm once again turned some good players into great players.
Here foxsports.com.au grades the top 30 player transfers of 2022 in alphabetical order of the club they joined.
Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs to Broncos)
The veteran halfback was being heralded as one of the greatest signings in Broncos history as they charged up the ladder on a seven-game winning run.
But when the whips were cracking at the business end of the season, Reynolds couldn’t get his side over the line.
The 32-year-old missed four games during the season but played final six – five of which were losses – as the Broncos inexplicably missed the top eight.
Kurt Capewell (Panthers to Broncos)
Capewell came home after winning the 2021 premiership with the Panthers and made an immediate impact on his junior club.
The bustling backrower set new standards at Red Hill alongside Reynolds and the pair worked closely with coach Kevin Walters on game plans.
Capewell slotted a memorable 40-metre field goal to beat the Rabbitohs in Round 1 and played all three games for Queensland.
Jamal Fogarty (Titans to Raiders)
Plenty of onlookers were left scratching their heads when the Titans let their captain and chief playmaker walk out the door.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was pumped to unleash Fogarty after a full summer working with the half, but injury struck in their final trial.
Fogarty returned in Round 12 and resurrected the Raiders’ season as they made an unlikely charge into the finals.
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Adam Elliott (Bulldogs to Raiders)
Ricky Stuart took a punt on Elliott after he was turfed from the Dogs following a restaurant bathroom hookup with his now-fiance Millie Boyle.
The utility paid him back in spades with strong performances first off the bench, then at hooker, lock and in the second row.
Elliott missed just two games all season and finished fourth in the Meninga Medal vote, but he’s since left the capital to join the Knights on a three-year deal.
Josh Addo-Carr (Storm to Bulldogs)
The Foxx was criticised for trading premierships for cash and warned he’d lose his representative jerseys.
The critics were initially proved right when the Dogs lost 11 of their first 13 games and the winger was overlooked for NSW.
But Addo-Carr enjoyed a strong finish to the season, including hat-tricks against the Eels and Titans, to retain his spot in the Kangaroos World Cup squad.
Matt Burton (Panthers to Bulldogs)
Burton won a premiership and was named the Dally M centre of the year last season before joining the Dogs to become their five-eighth.
The 22-year-old went from the penthouse to the outhouse but took it in his stride and improved as the season progressed.
Burton played every game of the season and made his Blues debut before earning a spot in the Kangaroos World Cup squad.
Paul Vaughan (Dragons to Bulldogs)
Vaughan’s career at the Dragons came crashing down when he was sacked hosting his infamous barbecue during a Covid lockdown in July year.
The veteran prop signed a one-year deal with the Bulldogs for 2022 and played every game, but he’s been moved on and will play in the Super League next year.
Vaughan finished 11th in the NRL for run metres among props, churning out an average of 118m per game.
Brent Naden (Panthers to Bulldogs to Wests Tigers)
Naden played just eight games at the Bulldogs before he was granted a release in the wake of the club sacking coach Trent Barrett.
But he joined the Wests Tigers after Round 10 this year and just days later played against the Dogs in a 36-22 win.
Naden played 10 games for the Tigers and scored two tries and is now contracted until the end of 2025.
Tevita Pangai Junior (Broncos to Bulldogs via Panthers)
TPJ left the Broncos for the Bulldogs last season via a six-game cameo at the Panthers at the end of last season.
The 26-year-old started at second row, prop and lock this season and came off the bench four times.
Pangai Junior, who is on $925,000 per season at the Dogs, was dropped for Round 24 after running for just 60 metres against the Eels.
‘He grabbed my balls!’ | 00:38
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Dale Finucane (Storm to Sharks)
Finucane built a reputation in Melbourne as one of the hardest working players in the NRL and he wasted no time putting his nose to the grindstone in Cronulla.
But injuries struck in the season opener against Canberra, with a knee injury ruling him out for six weeks.
Finucane also copped a two-game ban for a dangerous high tackle that literally took off a piece of Panthers centre Stephen Crichton’s ear.
Nicho Hynes (Storm to Sharks)
Hynes joined the Sharks on the promise of a starting spot but eyebrows were raised when rookie coach Craig Fitzgibbon said he’d be wearing the No. 7 jersey.
The 26-year-old didn’t just silence the critics, made a mockery of them as the playmaker went on to win the Dally M Medal.
Hynes was simply sensational and missed just one game as Cronulla charged up the ladder to finish second, but they bounced out of the finals in straight sets.
Cameron McInnes (Dragons to Sharks)
McInnes ruptured his ACL in February last year just 10 days after signing a four-year deal with the Sharks from 2022.
The lock missed the 2022 season opener but played every game thereafter, starting 13 games and coming off the bench in another 12.
McInnes enjoyed a strong season and was nominated for Cronulla’s player of year, which was won by Nicho Hynes.
Xavier Coates (Broncos to Storm)
There were some disgruntled Brisbane fans when the club allowed Coates to sign with the storm, despite the winger making his Queensland debut as a teenager.
Coates initially signed a two-year deal but it didn’t take long for the Storm to lock down the rising star who signed an extension to the end of 2026 back in April.
The young gun flourished under Craig Bellamy this season and scored 16 tries in 17 appearances. An ankle injury in the Origin opener sidelining him for seven games.
Josh King (Knights to Storm)
Becoming a mainstay in a Craig Bellamy Storm team is no easy feat, and in his first season in Melbourne King started 16 of his 25 appearances.
2022 was clearly a breakout year for the 26-year-old after featuring for the Knights 78 times across six seasons.
King edged out Kiwi International Brandon Smith at lock for majority of the season and is set to have an even bigger role in 2023.
Nick Meaney (Bulldogs to Storm)
This utility back arrived at the Storm to little fanfare but he quickly became one of the most important cogs in the Melbourne machine.
Meaney filled in for Cameron Munster at five-eighth in the season opener before shifting to the wing and then fullback when Ryan Papenhuyzen went down.
The 25-year-old will become a free agent on November 1 and plenty of clubs will be looking at the versatile playmaker.
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Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs to Knights)
Gagai returned to Newcastle after four seasons at the Rabbitohs, and despite hanging onto his Queensland jersey he didn’t light the world on fire.
The 31-year-old missed four games through injury and scored only five tries this season, his lowest return since 2018, while his try assists (6) and linebreaks (8) were half his 2021 numbers in the same categories.
Gagai played all three games for the Maroons but was never really in the conversation to make the Kangaroos World Cup squad. He’s contracted until the end of 2024.
Adam Clune (Dragons to Knights)
After signing a two-year deal in August last year, Clune was thrust into the halves alongside Jake Clifford after Mitchell Pearce was granted an immediate release in late 2021.
Clune was strong as the Knights got off to a flyer with two wins, but his joy ended there.
The 27-year-old was hardly a mainstay for Newcastle as Adam O’Brien’s futile attempts to work out the Knights best pairing never yielded any results.
Anthony Milford (Broncos to Knights)
Milford was signed as the solution to Adam O’Brien’s halves headache as Adam Clune and Jake Clifford failed to fire.
The former Broncos marquee man was solid in a 13 game stint after joining in April, however the Knights were only able to win three games in that period and six all season.
Despite his team’s lacklustre performances, Milford impressed enough to earn a deal with Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins and Newcastle were desperate to keep him in the Hunter.
Chad Townsend (Sharks to Cowboys via Warriors)
Billed as one of the season’s worst signings, Townsend arrived in Townsville with a chip on his shoulder.
With a point to prove, the 31-year-old sparked a Cowboys resurgence for the ages as Todd Payten’s side emerged as genuine premiership contenders.
Alongside Tom Dearden, Townsend played some of his best football and become the linchpin among North Queensland’s rising stars.
Jaydn Su’A (Rabbitohs to Dragons)
Backrow enforcer Jaydn Su’A came to the Dragons with a reputation as one of the NRL’s most damaging defensive players.
In his 19 appearances in his debut season, Su’A delivered 13 80 minute performances and battled through a lingering syndesmosis injury.
The 25-year-old’s ball running was impressive, scoring five tries and becoming an integral figure in Anthony Griffin’s starting 17
George Burgess (Wigan to Dragons)
Burgess’ stint at the Red V was limited to only four games and he believes Anthony Griffin wrote him off from the start.
In March the 30-year-old was charged by police “sexually touching another person without consent”.
While he was able to continue playing, Burgess made only three appearances after charges were laid and was released by the club at the end of the 2022 season.
Francis Molo (Cowboys to Dragons)
Fresh off a Maroons debut in 2021, Molo signed a three-year deal with the Red V, hoping to spearhead the Dragons forward pack.
The 28-year-old’s $500k per-season contract came with lofty expectations and the bustling front rower was solid in his debut season.
Molo started in 14 of his 21 appearances before his season was cut short after being hit with a four-week suspension for a high tackle on Titans centre Patrick Herbert.
Moses Mbye (Tigers to Dragons)
The Tigers were still chipping in a chunk of Mbye’s salary in 2022 and the veteran utility was desperate for a fresh start at the Red V.
Mbye became Anthony Griffin’s own ‘Mr. Fix it’ and played centre, fullback, hooker and off the bench, plugging holes across the park.
The 29-year-old looked re-energised after a disappointing spell in Leichhardt and was reliable throughout the season
Aaron Woods (Sharks to Dragons)
The veteran prop was signed to bring experience and grit to the Dragons forward pack after four-year stint with the Sharks.
Woods started only two of his 19 appearances this season and was a solid contributor under Anthony Griffin without setting the world on fire.
The 31-year-old played his 250th game last season and performed in patches off the bench while mentoring the Dragons’ young forwards.
Moses Suli (Sea Eagles to Dragons)
Suli endured a turbulent start to his NRL career and the Dragons finally landed the 24-year-old after pursuing him for several years.
The barnstorming centre played some of his best football under Anthony Griffin before a high grade syndesmosis injury which required surgery ended his season.
In only 17 appearances, Suli finished equal 21st for tackle breaks sitting one under teammate Zac Lomax as well as crossing for five tries.
Connor Watson (Knights to Roosters)
Another star returning to the Roosters after spending four years in the Hunter, making his debut for the Tricolours in 2016.
The 26-year-old played 21 games last season, starting once in a Round 1 loss to his former club.
Watson’s utility value was on full display under Trent Robinson, who injected the fast-footed gun into the centre of the park against tired defences, becoming a welcome addition to the Bondi club.
Paul Momirovski (Panthers to Roosters)
Momirovski made the switch back to his debut club fresh off the back of a premiership with the Panthers in 2021.
The 26-year-old was set to fill the outside backs void after injuries plagued the Tricolours last year, with many predicting he would become a mainstay at centre.
However, Momirovski struggled for form in 2022 playing 19 games as the Roosters were bundled out of the finals by their cross-town rivals.
Ash Taylor (Titans to Warriors)
Ash Taylor impressed Warriors bosses enough in pre-season to earn a top 30 contract after initially being signed on a train-and-trial deal.
The 27-year-old was desperate to reignite his NRL career after failing to live up to a hefty multimillion-dollar deal at the Titans.
However, Taylor pulled the curtain on his playing days in May, confirming his retirement due to a long-term hip injury which was affecting his quality of life.
Shaun Johnson (Sharks to Warriors)
Warriors fans were desperate to see the dazzling Shaun Johnson of old after he signed a two-year deal to return home.
New Zealand’s favourite son failed to life up to the hype which led former coach Tony Kemp to call for the 32-year-old to retire.
Johnson looked re-energised upon return to the club’s Auckland base and will be desperate to have a solid spine around him in 2023.
Jackson Hastings (Wigan to Tigers)
Hastings arrived at Leichhardt with an impressive Super League resume, which included a Man of Steel award in 2019, after he left the Sea Eagles controversially in 2018.
The 26-year-old lived up to expectations in his 16 appearances before an ugly leg break ended his season in Round 20.
Hastings was arguably the Tigers best player in 2022 and was used to plug holes, swapping to halfback in the hopes of sparking Luke Brooks who was struggling for form.
His attitude across the season cannot be questioned and he provided a slight glimmer of hope for fans amid a turbulent year.
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