Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has undoubtedly been the signing of the season thanks to his impact on the team as well as the dirt-cheap price the Raiders brought him in for.
He has proven to be a revelation in the fullback jersey for Ricky Stuart’s men since his pre-season switch from the Warriors.
While the Raiders would have been delighted with his substantial contribution this year having signed him on a meagre $130,000 per season two-year deal, they will be even more delighted with the price they have managed to keep the Cook Islands international for.
With rumours circulating that Nicoll-Klokstad could demand as much as $500,000 on the open market, somehow the capital club have managed to tie the evasive fullback down until 2023 on a deal worth roughly $330,000 per year.
For context, Nicoll-Klokstad only has two fewer try involvements (combined tries and try assists) than the man who stood in his way at the Warriors, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and will earn $570,000 less per year.
While he netted a respectable seven tries from as many appearances across his two-year stint in the Warriors first-grade squad, his path to consistent first-grade was blocked by the impressive back three of Fusitu’a, Maumalo, and Tuivasa-Sheck, and not a whole lot was expected of the ex-warrior when he joined the Raiders.
However, that is why I am where I am, and why Peter Mulholland is running the recruitment show in Canberra. Because he can see what others can’t.
And boy did he get this one right, with the mild-mannered Auckland native going onto register the most kick return metres in the NRL, 4th most run metres, 3rd most runs and 2nd most post-contact metres amongst fullbacks. Not bad for a bloke who was running around in the NSW Cup last year.
While many have regarded the Raiders as pioneers in the NRL recruitment market for their recent forays into the Super League, this time the Raiders have proven themselves to be equally astute in the local market.
And for the Raiders recruitment and retention team to lock in a player of such influence to a four-year deal in the prime of his career for the same amount of money that the Sea Eagles pays Daly Cherry-Evans annually is almost un-fathomable. It is a testament to the turnaround across all facets of the club that has occurred in recent years.