NRL Rd 23 - Panthers v Storm
PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Jarome Luai of the Panthers runs the ball during the round 23 NRL match between Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at BlueBet Stadium on August 04, 2023 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The St George Illawarra Dragons have more questions than you could poke a stick at as the clock ticks over to November 1.

The club currently have 16 players off-contract at the end of 2024 who can negotiate with rivals from today, and other questions over the future of captain Ben Hunt, who has requested a release ad-nauseum from the joint-venture.

That leaves Shane Flanagan with a tricky period ahead, but also one where he is going to be able to reshape the club as he sees fit given the number of spots available, and cash up the sleeve.

The Dragons must make a significant play - or plays - for a number of key players coming off-contract to rebuild the squad ahead of 2025.

In this series, Zero Tackle are running the rule over every club's state of play for 2025, and the best targets they should be chasing from November 1.

Current squad for 2025
Jack Bird, Ryan Couchman, Toby Couchman, Dylan Egan, Sione Finau, Kyle Flanagan, Jacob Halangahu, Ben Hunt, Blake Lawrie, Jacob Liddle, Zac Lomax, Mikaele Ravalawa, Hame Sele, Hamish Stewart

Current best 17 for 2025
1. No player signed.
2. Mikaeale Ravalawa
3. Zac Lomax
4. No player signed.
5. Sione Finau
6. Kyle Flanagan
7. Ben Hunt
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Jacob Liddle
10. Hame Sele
11. Dylan Egan
12. Jacob Halangahu
13. Jack Bird
14. No player signed.
15. Toby Couchman
16. Ryan Couchman
17. Hamish Stewart

Players off-contract at end of 2024
Talatau Amone, Josh Coric, Jack de Belin, Mathew Feagai, Max Feagai, Jaiyden Hunt, Francis Molo, Michael Molo, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Cody Ramsey, Jackson Shereb, Tyrell Sloan, Jaydn Su'A, Moses Suli, Savelio Tamale, Alec Tuitavake, Paul Turner

Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Dragons could target for 2025 and beyond.

EVERY PLAYER OFF-CONTRACT AT THE END OF 2024

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1. Jarome Luai

As we hit November 1, there is little doubt the Dragons need to find themselves re-enforcements in the halves, at both five-eighth and halfback.

There are three top-line five-eighths coming off-contract, being Jarome Luai, Ezra Mam and Tom Dearden.

Any of those options would realistically suit the Dragons just fine, but what they need more than anything is the experience of a winning culture joining the club.

Luai, for all his off-field antics, brings just that with him. He has played an enormous role in the Penrith system over the last four years, which has resulted in four grand finals and three premierships.

Those who call Luai a passenger or Nathan Cleary's sidekick within that side simply don't get it though - Luai is an excellent club level player, even if he hasn't been able to carry that across to the Origin arena.

His running game is a real strength, and whether it's partnering Ben Hunt or not, the Dragons must move mountains to sign Luai.

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