NRL Rd 2 - Sharks v Eels
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Nicholas Hynes of the Sharks runs with the ball during the round two NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Parramatta Eels at PointsBet Stadium, on March 19, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

A successful recruitment drive can transform a side in a season. It can be the difference between a top-eight finish and a second bite of the cherry.

On the flip side, losing an important player can hinder a side and see them regress, sometimes quickly.

Heading into the 2022 season we saw the Bulldogs undertake one of the most aggressive recruitment drives in recent memory.

Across Sydney you had the Sharks shaking the ranks both on and off the field.

Brisbane landed the biggest fish of all, at least in terms of stature and contract value, when they announced the signing of Adam Reynolds.

Some big names flourished while others floundered. A number of recruits saw their careers take off and their sides benefit as a result. Others took up big chunks of the salary cap whilst offering little.

Below are the top five recruits based on their 2022 seasons. This doesn't only take into account pure results. For instance, some teams were building and despite not playing finals footy are now in better positions than this time last year due to a recruit's effort.


5. Matt Burton

I think it's fair to say that Matt Burton didn't have a 2022 that matches his 2021.

I also think it's fair to say he has single-handedly transformed the Bulldogs attack.

Burton became the vocal point of his club during 2022. Everything good in blue and white came through the marquee signing.

Burton's boot arguably became the game's biggest weapon. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs didn't offer up enough around him to fully take advantage of his abilities.

In 2022 Burton scored 6 tries, laid on 14 try assists, assisted 14 line-breaks, forced 18 drop outs and kicked for over 431 metres per game.

The Dogs are a far more dangerous side with Burton on board. Not only did he largely oversee a positive turnaround of results on field but his arrival created a positive feel missing within the club's fan base for many years.

Burton, with two massive weapons arriving in the off-season, will be much in 2023 having spent a full season in the halves.

There will be some who suggest Burton underperformed in 2022 but I'd argue he played extremely well considering the pressure placed upon him.

NRL Rd 2 - Bulldogs v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Dufty of the Bulldogs celebrate a defensive effort during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium, on March 20, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)