The Brisbane Broncos will commence their campaign to turn around back-to-back bottom-four finishes with plenty of new faces in their run on side.
Kevin Walters and the recruitment team at the Broncos, headed up by the new director of football Ben Ikin, have spent the last 12 months rebuilding and revamping their squad.
They have made plenty of shrewd re-signings, let players go, and added match-winning experience around their relatively youthful squad.
Ins: Logan Bayliss (2023), Kurt Capewell (Penrith Panthers, 2024), Delouise Hoeter (2022), Ryan James (Canberra Raiders, 2022), Corey Jensen (North Queensland Cowboys, 2023), Brenko Lee (Melbourne Storm, 2023), Te Maire Martin (2022), Jordan Pereira (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2023), Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2024), Billy Walters (Wests Tigers, 2022)
Outs: John Asiata (Leigh Centurions), Ethan Bullemor (Manly Sea Eagles), Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm), Dale Copley (retired), Brodie Croft (Salford Red Devils), Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), Alex Glenn (retired), Danny Levi (Huddersfield Giants), Matthew Lodge (New Zealand Warriors), Anthony Milford (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tevita Pangai Junior (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Isaiah Tass (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Reece Walsh (New Zealand Warriors)
Re-signed: Jesse Arthars (2023), Selwyn Cobbo (2023), Thomas Flegler (2023), Tyson Gamble (2023), Kobe Hetherington (2023), Albert Kelly (2022), Ezra Mam (2024), David Mead (2022), Tesi Niu (2023), Cory Paix (2023), Keenan Palasia (2022), Brendan Piakura (2024), Jordan Riki (2024), TC Robati (2024), Kotoni Staggs (2025), Jake Turpin (2022), Xavier Willison (2025)
Jesse Arthars, Logan Bayliss, Kurt Capewell, Patrick Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo, Herbie Farnworth, Thomas Flegler, Tyson Gamble, Payne Haas, Kobe Hetherington, Delouise Hoeter, Jamayne Isaako, Ryan James, Corey Jensen, Albert Kelly, Rhys Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Ezra Mam, David Mead, Tesi Niu, Corey Oates, Cory Paix, Keenan Palasia, Jordan Pereira, Brendan Piakura, Adam Reynolds (c), Jordan Riki, TC Robati, Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin, Billy Walters, Xaiver Willison
Who plays where?
Tesi Niu will likely start the season in the number one jumper. He finished the 2021 season there with some strong performances in behind a team who were struggling to put any semblance of consistent results on the board.
He finished the season with six tries and three assists in his ten games at fullback, and was also a threat with the ball in hand, running big metres every week.
Niu will only continue improving as he continues to gain NRL level experience, and must be given first shot at the fullback jumper this season ahead of the likes of Jamayne Isaako, David Mead, Herbie Farnworth and Selwyn Cobbo who will all contend for other spots in the team.
There are plenty of candidates to line up on the wing for the Broncos. Young gun Selwyn Cobbo, the experienced Herbie Farnworth, the arriving Jordan Pereira, goal-kicker Jamayne Isaako and veteran David Mead are the five who will lead the way for the two spots, while Corey Oates role in the team is still up for debate after some indifferent form and a possible switch to the second-row still lingering over his career.
Farnworth is probably the best of the five, but he well and truly established himself in the centres during the 2021 season and should start the new year there as well.
That means Selwyn Cobbo will almost undoubtedly take one of the spots - a young gun with plenty of potential, he managed seven games in 2021.
Given Adam Reynolds has arrived to take over the goal kicking, there is no enormous need for Isaako to play this season, which means the last wing spot is a real toss up.
Still, Kevin Walters will probably give him first shot at the position - but if he doesn't succeed, Mead or Pereira will be in the side quicker than you can click your fingers, while Oates is also lurking, but unlikely to be the first choice.
The centres are among the easiest selections to make for the Broncos. Kotoni Staggs, who only managed three games last season, takes one spot without question.
The Broncos looked a different side during those three games he played, and he made a real and tangible difference to the struggling outfit.
Farnworth takes the other spot without question either, having put in some excellent performances during 2021 on his way to 20 appearances where he racked up seven try assists and 145 metres per game.
Adam Reynolds is going to take the first spot in the halves - that much is an absolute given. The star recruit, who is coming off a run to the grand final with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, will wear the number seven jersey and that's that.
Who lines up alongside him though is very much up for debate.
Tyson Gamble and Albert Kelly will be the first two considered after playing plenty of football for the Broncos last year. Kelly's game is a little similar to Reynolds though, while Gamble provided a spark with his running of the football.
Ezra Mam is probably the star of the future, and while he is on a top 30 deal, it's hard to see him being a first-choice option, although he is likely to play at some point this year.
Billy Walters is the other option, but again, probably behind Gamble and Kelly.
Hard to go past Gamble to start.
Payne Haas was an absolute monster for the Broncos in 2021. He is an Origin-calibre player and could be a future captain of the club - averaging 168 metres per game from 20 appearances in 2021, he also tackled strongly and played big minutes.
He is the first player picked in this side after Reynolds.
Thomas Flegler will likely take the other spot in the front row, also playing 20 games last year. He has elements of improvement left in his game, particularly in attack, but he did the little things right more often than he didn't. The average of 89 metres per game must come up though given some of the experience Brisbane have brought into the club, including Ryan James and Corey Jensen.
First-choice hooker Jake Turpin could come under plenty of pressure this season if he can't put performances together at both ends of the park consistently.
There is no doubting how good Turpin is defensively, but his attack will be the key focus in 2022. It's an area he has at times struggled with, although that is partially down to a team being rolled each week.
The other second-row spot is far less secure. TC Robati, Jordan Riki or Keenan Palasia could all realistically slot in, while young gun Brendan Piakura is also going to push hard for first-grade action this year.
Riki might have the inside running on the spot, but Robatis's strength and size should give him an edge in landing a position in the starting side, which is where he was before a late-season injury in 2021.
There are plenty of options to fill out the bench for the Broncos, and plenty of experience to go with it, but which way Kevin Walters decides to go will be intriguing.
The utility spot comes down to Kobe Hetherington and Cory Paix. Paix provides more back line depth, but with Hetherington's ability to play lock, it means he will be useful each and every game, not just as cover for an injury in the backs, and you'd have to think the way he stood up to the challenge last year means he gets a spot.
It could be expected there will be one spot for a second-rower, which will go to Jordan Riki who narrowly misses a spot in the starting side, although again, Piakura will challenge.
The fact Keenan Palasia spent a significant chunk of time in the middle third during 2021 means he has added a layer of versatility to his game which can only lead to him being selected in one of the middle spots on the bench with the ability to shift wide.
That leaves just a single spot to be fought out between Ryan James, Corey Jensen, Rhys Kennedy and Xavier Willison. They will certainly go with experience, and it's hard to see James being overlooked as he takes a new lease on his NRL career, but the depth is stronger than it has been for some time.
The best 17
1. Tesi Niu
2. Selwyn Cobbo
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Herbie Farnworth
5. Jamayne Isaako
6. Tyson Gamble
7. Adam Reynolds
8. Payne Haas
9. Jake Turpin
10. Thomas Flegler
11. Kurt Capewell
12. TC Robati
13. Patrick Carrigan
14. Kobe Hetherington
15. Jordan Riki
16. Keenan Palasia
17. Ryan James
Other best 17s
Gold Coast Titans
Manly Sea Eagles
New Zealand Warriors
North Queensland Cowboys
South Sydney Rabbitohs