Every NRL club’s players who will be targeted in the November free-for-all (Part 1)


Now that the mid-season swap meet has ended, the next date that will be front of mind for clubs, players and their agents is 1 November – the date from which players coming off contract in 2023 can begin to negotiate for 2024 and beyond.

Club list managers will need to get very busy very quickly if they either want to keep their key players out of the clutches of their rivals, or target players from other clubs to fill gaps in their roster.

With around 175 players hitting the market, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of talent, bound to stretch some salary caps to the limit.

The smarter players whose careers are on the rise will probably hold out until the middle of next year in the hope that their market value is still on the rise, while some older players who are headed to retirement will be looking for a longer contract now.

A lot of the deals done come November might also involve a move in 2023, rather than waiting for 2024.

Here’s my take on the players who will attract the most attention.

Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos have nine players coming off contract at the end of 2023, with the biggest target being star centre Herbie Farnworth, who they’ll no doubt be keen to retain as centres of his quality are scarce.

Thomas Flegler and Tesi Niu will also be on the shopping list. Flegler seems to be showing form at just the right time, although in Niu’s case, with the impending arrival of Reece Walsh and the emergence of Selwyn Cobbo, perhaps Brisbane will be happy to cut him loose as early as next season.

Of the rest, Kobe Hetherington and Cory Paix would be appear to be priority retention targets, leaving the remainder of Jesse Arthurs, Tyson Gamble, Corey Jensen and Jordan Pereira unlikely to cause much excitement on the market.

Tesi Niu

Tesi Niu of the Broncos. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Canberra Raiders
The Raiders also have nine squad members in play and they’ll be desperate to retain one of the form forwards in the competition in Joseph Tapine, and rising star Xavier Savage. Losing either of these players would be a bitter blow and they’ll both be flooded with offers if not wrapped up before 1 November.

Of the remaining seven, Emre Guler and goal-kicking half Brad Schneider should be retained, while there would be far less urgency for the likes of Matt Frawley, Albert Hopoate, Jordan Rapana, Harry Rushton and Harley Smith-Shields.

Canterbury Bulldogs
The Dogs have 14 players, almost half their current squad, coming off contract in 2023, and their biggest focus at the moment will be retaining star five-eighth Matt Burton, who they lured away from Penrith this year. Burton has an option in his favour for 2024 but if the Dogs don’t get him to put pen to paper soon, he can expect to receive multiple offers for at least double the salary he’s on now.

If they get the Burton deal over the line, the next priorities will be fellow spine players in Jake Averillo and Kyle Flanagan.

They would probably be happy to see Corey Allan, Jayden Okunbor and Luke Thompson out of their salary cap as soon as possible, while Paul Alomati, Bailey Biondi-Odo, Joshua Cook, Chris Patolo, Ava Seumanafagai and Corey Waddell are hardly likely to generate much interest.

Cronulla Sharks
The Sharks have ten players up for grabs and their retention priorities will be focused on the outside backs. In fact, their entire back five of Will Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Jesse Ramien, Siosifa Talaki and Ronaldo Mulitalo will be free to negotiate. Classy fullback Kennedy and the destructive Talakai are likely to attract the most interest.

The other five players to come onto the market are Matt Ikuvalu, Lachlan Miller, Brayden Trindall, Teig Wilton and Jensen Taumoepeau.

Gold Coast Titans
The Titans will have ten players coming off contract, the most noticeable of whom is million-dollar man David Fifita. You get the sense that an immediate change of clubs is what Fifita needs, but the price will be a big issue.

I’m not sure how many of the remaining nine will be of interest, although rookie speedster Sosefo Fifita might be a wild card. Corey Thompson may head to retirement after next year, Patrick Herbert and Brian Kelly are depth players at best, while Erin Clark is probably a keeper. The rest are Joseph Vuna, Paul Turner, Greg Marzhew and Sam McIntyre.

David Fifita of the Titans in action

David Fifita (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Manly Sea Eagles
Manly have ten players eligible for the November auction, but probably only nine, as I can’t see Ben Trbojevic going anywhere. Of the rest, point-scoring machine Reuben Garrick will be the most in demand, while Jason Saab and Lachlan Croker may also attract interest.

Manly won’t lose too much sleep over the remainder of Ethan Bullemore, Morgan Harper, Brad Parker, Kaeo Weekes and Alec Tuitavake.

Melbourne Storm
There have been a lot of players heading out of Melbourne over the last couple of years, and with 12 players off contract in 2023 that trend might just continue. Cameron Munster looms as their biggest potential problem, as he’ll be 28 soon and no doubt looking for a long-term, lucrative contract.

Giants Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tui Kamikamica will be in play, and given the number of forwards they have lost in recent times, both may be a retention priority. Of the rest, Nick Meaney has already proven his value, Tariq Sims has only been signed for one year, leaving Jordan Grant, Josh King, Trent Loiero, Tepai Moeroa, Jonah Pezet, Will Warbrick and Tyran Wishart making up the dozen.

Newcastle Knights
The Knights have 12 players coming off contract in 2023, 13 if Tyson Frizell activates his 2023 player option. David Klemmer is included but this could be his last year in the Hunter.

Dom Young is improving all the time and could be a sensation in the right company, so he might spark some interest, however Jake Clifford, Adam Clune, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Bailey Hodgson, Hymel Hunt, Jack Johns, Brodie Jones, Kurt Mann, Chris Randall and Enari Tuala will hardly spark a bidding frenzy. Newcastle might prefer to see most of these players gone sooner rather than later.

In Part 2, we’ll take a look at the other eight teams.


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