SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Valentine Holmes of the Sharks runs the ball during the round four NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Melbourne Storm at Southern Cross Group Stadium on March 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

November 1st! Happy Silly Season everybody!!!

As the clock struck midnight, literally millions of dollars of NRL talent became fair game.

There will be big names moving, there will be ridiculous money on offer and there will be speculation. SOOOO much speculation.

Message boards will be full of people with ‘inside knowledge’ while the usual suspects will tweet, facebook post, or scream from the mountain tops of signings that may or may not happen.

Let the fun begin!!!

Below we look at just a few of the big name players set to dominate the headlines.

Valentine Holmes:

The biggest piece of the recruitment puzzle may be the first to fall. At times reports have indicated that Holmes was simply waiting for the deadline to pass to sign with the Cowboys.

The Sharks have offered to make him the highest paid player in their club’s history with an eye-watering deal reported to be worth over $4 million.

Holmes is a genuine mega star after a super year at fullback. The Sharks are looking to build a side around him but so are the Cowboys. For all that the Sharks can offer, money, facilities, beach side living, a premiership shot, they can’t offer what the Cowboys can, an avenue home.

This two team shoot out will be THE recruitment battle of the off-season. I hope for everyone’s sake it is sorted sooner rather than later.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA – JULY 13: Valentine Holmes of the Sharks is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Panthers and the Sharks at Panthers Stadium on July 13, 2018 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Tevita Pangai Jr:

Honestly it looks as though TPJ is going to follow mentor Wayne Bennett to Souths having signed a one-year deal to align his contract with his current coach.

It makes all the sense in the world and seems a mere formality.

That said, he would be silly not to at least test the market. With the Knights offering up a massive contract to Klemmer, I have no doubt that Pangai Jr could one day attract a similar offer, perhaps even now.

He’ll be in the minds of plenty of NRL coaches. Whether or not he’ll entertain ideas of moving on from Bennett is another story.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 08: Tevita Pangai of the Broncos runs the ball during the round 17 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium on July 8, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Damien Cook:

I can’t see Cook signing for anyone other than the Bunnies given the relationship between player and club.

He’s reported to be seeking a contract around $800,000 a season, and I believe he is worth every cent of that $800k.

That’s not going to be easy to find in an already tight salary cap for the red and greens.

I’m not sure, despite his obvious talents, that anyone could have seen the rapid rise that took Cook from fringe first grader to the game’s premier hooker in 2018.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 21: Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs in action during the round seven NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium on April 21, 2018 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Shaun Johnson:

A massive player in the market. Johnson has reportedly been told he is free to explore his options, with a plethora of NRL teams to come calling.

He’s a genuine marquee signing for any club and will surely be targeted by the Roosters to replace Cooper Cronk.

Melbourne are players here, hoping to pair him with Cam Munster. The Eels will be there as they look to move on Norman and possibly Moses.

Johnson, should he leave the Warriors, will set off a chain reaction. As the premier half off contract he is likely to be the topic of speculation right up until the second an official announcement is made.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 24: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors in action during the round 24 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Lachlan Fitzgibbon:

I expected the Knights’ re-signing announcement earlier this week to be Fitzgibbon. I expect him to be re-signed very quickly to a far improved contract given his brilliant 2018 season.

I’m a huge fan of the 24 year-old. He has his best footy still in front of him, and should attract plenty of interest now that clubs can circle.

To be honest there aren’t many clubs in the competition who couldn’t use the try-scoring back rower.

Again, I can’t see the Knights letting their developing him go to waste and will move quickly to pen a long-term deal, but talk has begun.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 27: Lachlan Fitzgibbon of the Knights celebrates after scoring a try during the round 20 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Newcastle Knights at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 27, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Coen Hess:

I can’t see Hess moving from the Cowboys but this is the first time the star big man will have tested the open market to his fullest potential.

There will be big offers on the table. At only 22 years of age, a multi million dollar contract now will be hard to ignore, should the Cowboys fail to lock him up quickly.

With reports that both Matt Scott and Gavin Cooper will retire at the end of this year, you’d think the Cowboys would be into well advanced conversations with Hess.

That said, as of last night, I’d be very surprised if his agent hadn’t spoken to one or two interested clubs.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 09: Coen Hess of the Cowboys celebrates after scoring a try during the round 22 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium on August 9, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Cameron Murray:

For mine, Murray is the most underrated ‘gun’ on the off-contract list. Souths will want to re-sign him with minimal fuss hoping that other clubs don’t even realise Murray’s contract has ticked over.

The obvious replacement for the departed Angus Crichton, Murray will likely play a huge role at Redfern for many years to come.

That said, the Sharks have just lost Luke Lewis and will say goodbye to Paul Gallen at the end of 2019. That opens up a fairly hefty potential pay day and starting spot for Murray.

Other clubs will be all over the news should Murray’s name not be announced as re-signing very soon, if not already.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 15: Leeson Ah Mau of the Dragons has the ball stripped by Cameron Murray of the Rabbitohs during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Parramatta Eels:

The Eels have Corey Norman, Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses all off contract. If reports are to be believed, the club has been shopping around both of their spare halves to no avail.

Reports have even indicated the supremely popular Gutherson has been floated as potentially available, while Michael Jennings’ name has been added to that list in the past 24 hours.

Watch this space. With Johnson, Cronk, Cameron Munster and Luke Brooks all off-contract (although I expect Brooks to extend with the Tigers very quickly) the Eels could be big players.

Cronk will likely retire but if the Eels can stump up something massive, and maybe a coaching role, maybe Cronk will stick around for one more year? Doubtful but stranger things have happened.

Will Gutherson re-sign? If not he’ll be a target. So too Norman, who will likely test the market. Moses has his moments and is already supposedly a target for the Warriors.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 25: Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman of the Eels run during a Parramatta Eels NRL training session at on July 25, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Comments are closed.