during the round 16 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium on June 24, 2017 in Canberra, Australia.

Today we look at the ins and outs for 2018 and beyond for the Dragons, Panthers, Cowboys and Sea Eagles. How have they recruited thus far? Who should they target?

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Without knowing the exact salary cap position of each side, take the suggestions with a grain of salt, but given reports, and common sense, they are players each side would likely be able to recruit.

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Penrith Panthers

In: None

Out: Zach Dockar-Clay (Hull Kingston Rovers), Peta Hiku (Warrington Wolves), Samisoni Langi (released), Te Maire Martin (North Queensland Cowboys), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Wests Tigers)

Off Contract: Sitaleki Akauola, Sione Katoa, Darren Nicholls, Michael Oldfield, Tony Satini

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 14: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak of the Panthers in action during the round 23 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Penrith Panthers at Hunter Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Re-signed: Viliame Kikau (2018), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (2020), Dean Whare (2022), Corey Harawira-Naera

Not a whole lot of movement on the recruitment front at the foot of the mountains, with no confirmed signings for 2018 and beyond just yet. The re-signing of DWZ and Dean Whare are important, although it’s the penning of CHN to a new deal that the recruitment team can really hang their hat on. Chased by numerous clubs, the try-scoring second rower is a future superstar and a brilliant re-signing. There isn’t a plethora of talent off contract out Penrith way, meaning the bulk of the job is already done.

Should Target: Gerard Beale

In reality, the Panthers don’t really need too much to go forward. The talent is there, it’s just a question as to whether or not Anthony Griffin can unlock it. The Panthers have gone from genuine contenders to also-rans in the space of 17 NRL rounds. They’re going to really struggle to make the finals now, which is shocking to me given the ability on the roster. They could probably use another experienced option out wide, who wouldn’t break the bank. I don’t know if Beale is the answer, but his arrival wouldn’t hurt given the performances he’s produced during his time at the Sharks.

Grading: C-

The Panthers certainly aren’t weaker as a result of their 2017 movements, but I’d argue they’re not stronger either. They’ve lost a few fringe first graders, but their talented NSW cup and NYC sides should provide plenty of cover if injuries continue to occur. The re-signing of CHN is a brilliant move. It looks as though the releases of Hiku and co were to allow CHN to be upgraded. Not a whole lot to say here, but the Panthers, given their current NRL ladder position probably aren’t where they thought they would be.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t agree with the comments about Dugan or Packer. Packer has had two years back in the NRL and has played just OK this season. Vaughan has been far better IMO. Maybe Russell would have improved next year, wait and see how he goes at the Tigers.
    Early in the season it was Widdop – not Dugan – who was sparking the Dragons attack, with backup by Lafai. Sure, Duges runs hard at the line but he doesn’t pass the ball much. He is also injury prone as every fan knows.
    Having a first grade halfback in 2018 will make a much bigger difference to the Dragons than retaining either of these two.

    • Spot on DB, Dugan was a great defender on the line.
      I would let Mann have another crack at it when Duges goes.

    • Right on. As much as I love, and will miss Dugan, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that he’s leaving. The points will flow with a player who has proper vision and ball playing ability.

      We will miss his defence however. But lets hope our fullback scores/sets up more than he lets in.

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