TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Kalyn Ponga of the Cowboys is tackled by Daly Cherry-Evans of the Sea Eagles during the round three NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Manly Sea Eagles at 1300SMILES Stadium on March 18, 2017 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

There has been no shortage of transfer activity as we look toward the 2018 season. The Knights and Tigers have completely overhauled their playing rosters, with hopes that mass changes will bring about a quick turn around in results.

It’s near impossible to predict who will star and who will fail, but we’re going to have a go at doing so regardless.

Only confirmed and announced signings have been considered, so the Moylan/Maloney deal wasn’t taken into account, nor any potential move for Mitchell Pearce or Jarryd Hayne.

Below are the top 10 signings for the 2018 season. This isn’t a rundown of the biggest name signings, but more-so who will add most to their new side in the 2018 campaign.

10. Jordan McLean (Cowboys)

This is a major signing that has certainly fallen beneath the radar. Current Kangaroos prop Jordan McLean will venture north to the Cowboys after a career-best season in 2017. The Cowboys really struggled early on after the loss of Matt Scott to injury, and James Tamou and Ben Hannant through leaving the club, but McLean is a young, superstar prop with his best days ahead of him. He and Scott form an all Kangaroos starting front row, and won’t lose too many battles. The Cowboys fell just short of a premiership without Scott and Thurston. Throw them back in, and add the monster frame of McLean and you may just have another title tilt on your hands up north.

9. Josh Reynolds (Tigers)

With all due respect to Reynolds, I don’t believe he’s in the top ten most talented players to be switching clubs next season, but he is the absolutely perfect signing for the Tigers right now. The joint-venture club really lack an identity, and Reynolds is the kind of player who can rally those around him to bleed for and almost die for the jersey. Don’t believe me? Just see the uproar from the players and fans at the Dogs when he was allowed to walk away from the club. Footballing wise, he is a former New South Wales half, and I believe he will be a far better player under Ivan Cleary than he was under Hasler. He will be allowed to play much more freely and can be the perfect partner for Luke Brooks. He brings aggression and personality, two things the Tigers lacked in 2017.

8. Cooper Cronk (Roosters)

I’m going to cop heat for leaving the former Storm megastar so far down the list, as he’s undoubtedly the biggest name signing for 2018. The reason I do so is although I believe he is one of the top two halfbacks in the game, the fact that it looks like Mitchell Pearce may head for the exit is a huge risk to take. Yes, if I were Trent Robinson, I would have taken the gamble. You don’t say no to Cooper Cronk, but the Roosters look almost certain to lose a pretty handy halfback as a result. I can’t see Pearce offering anything from the bench, and there’s no chance there will be a rotation between their three main halves. Cronk’s kicking game is the best in the competition, and the thought of the potential point scoring ability of a back-line involving Tedesco and Mitchell is downright scary. He has the potential to deliver two premierships to Bondi, but in terms of risk vs reward, this is the signing to watch.

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7. Ben Hunt (Dragons)

The Dragons have absolutely nailed it on the recruitment front. They needed to sign a game-winning halfback to partner Gareth Widdop, and they have achieved just that. Currently representing the Kangaroos as a back up to Cameron Smith in the nine jersey, Hunt will revert back to the number seven and will look to lift the Red V back to finals footy. The Dragons have reportedly paid big to secure Hunt’s services, but they have done exactly what was needed to give Widdop the partner he needs. The Broncos will miss Hunt big time, and their loss is the Dragons gain.

6. Connor Watson (Knights)

This is one that will cause some controversy as he has been chosen over the likes of Woods and Bird, and placed higher than Cronk, but in terms of 2018, Watson’s signing is a masterstroke. Raised on the central coast, Watson is the kind of talent the Knights can build a side around for the next decade. Reduced to a bit part role due to the strength of the Roosters halves, Watson will move into the five-eighth role and carry a huge responsibility in 2018 and beyond. I believe this will help him develop as a player, and into a genuine star of the game. There is absolutely no downside in this signing. He is a freakish talent, with pace to burn and skills to match. Could be the best value signing of the year.

5. Josh Dugan (Sharks)

Another that will cause controversy, but this signing is a genuine game changer for the Sharks. After losing Jack Bird, they needed to recruit a superstar centre, and have arguably upgraded here in adding Dugan to the back-line. He has been in incredible form for the Kangaroos and will benefit from a full time position switch to the centres. Injury has been his downfall in the past, but the Sharks have one of the best medical teams in the business, after getting the most out of Ben Barba, Luke Lewis etc who had past injury problems. With the potential arrival of Moylan at fullback and the shifting of Holmes back to the wing, the Sharks have THE most dangerous right hand side in rugby league.

4. Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)

The toughest decision I had was where to place Dane Gagai. At first I didn’t have him in the top 12, then I thought about it and had him top three, ultimately deciding that fourth was about right. Gagai is a freak. His talent is beyond words. We all saw what he did to New South Wales earlier this year. Unfortunately he suffered big time at club level due to the lack of a supporting cast, and also constant positional changes. He will slot into the centres, and playing off Walker and Reynolds should provide him with the opportunity to establish himself as one of the game’s elite outside backs. Being that he plays for QLD and the Kangaroos, you could argue he already is.

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3. Kieran Foran (Bulldogs)

A few seasons ago, Foran’s move would have been number one. The Bulldogs have been crying out for a superstar half of Foran’s quality for years now. Their attack has been dire, and Mbye has really failed to live up to the expectations following his shift into playmaking duties. Foran should be the answer. I say should rather than will, due to the past two seasons. Foran has been electric on field, but has been distracted off field. His injury history is a huge concern, but the Dogs have to back themselves to get Foran right. If he can return to his best, he’s the most important signing this season. He has literally every tool in the kit. A premiership winner, he should be the man to lead the Dogs back to finals footy. Should!

2. Kalyn Ponga (Knights)

On paper, placing a 19 year-old with less than 10 NRL games experience above the likes of Foran, Dugan and Cronk seems almost criminal. In terms of what he brings, he is arguably the most important signing for 2018 and beyond. I dare anyone outside of Newcastle, hey even the Newcastle fan base for that matter, to name all the players who played fullback last year for the red and blue. If fit, Ponga is the first choice number one on the Hunter for as long as he wants it. The Knights have overhauled their roster, and make no mistake it will take time to see the full benefits, but Ponga will hit the ground running and be a superstar from the early rounds.

1. James Tedesco (Roosters)

If you want to talk about game changers, James Tedesco’s move to Bondi is exactly that, and then some. Forced to overplay his hand in a big way during the last two seasons at the Tigers, Tedesco was overworked, yet still recorded some incredible stats. His back line now includes the likes of Cronk, Keary, Tupou, Ferguson, Gordon/Manu and Mitchell. He’ll be playing behind Napa, JWH and Cordner. I’ll be placing a sneaky bet on a Tedesco Dally M medal once the markets open and I believe he will provide that extra avenue to the try line that will make the Roosters premiership favourites next year.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Where is the “superstar sideline touch judge abuser” Mitch Moses…surely he is the number 1(sic) signing of the decade….haha

    And don’t forget mr Bromance, headband wearing Woodsy….his love affair with Klemmer will be the biggest talking point in the NRL during 2018….

  2. Can we please stop building these young guys up to be the greatest thing ever before they even get the chance to prove themselves? Ponga may turn out to be a great siging for the Knights down the track, but, as mentioned, the kid has played less than 10 games, most of them off the bench. Yet people are making him out to be the Messiah for the Knights who will bring them back. Give the kid a break and let him build his career before, otherwise when he doesn’t have an immediate impact at the Knights he will be seen as a failure, which isn’t fair on him.

    • Exactly E47.Remember when Parra signed Luke Burt was going to be next superstar and answer all parra fans prayers.Handy first grader but never near superstar

    • All good points eels47, although Ponga has not started on the bench once, all his games he started at wing or fullback

  3. I reckon Foran will be a great signing next year. He’s more than ready to get his body right for next year and is ready to rip in for the off season and next year. I’ve seen his interviews with the Dogs and he is very happy to be there and he is in great stead off the field and has no more distractions. I can’t wait to see how our side lines up round 1 and see what type of good football they will play under Pay.

    • think your doggies deff a top for team,prob take parras place in the 8 as i cant see much improve in parra an we had pretty easy draw last year

    • think your doggies deff a top 8 team,prob take parras place in the 8 as i cant see much improve in parra an we had pretty easy draw last year

      • Nah there is no chance Parra are missing out next year. They will be around the top 4 again. The Dogs will most likely be in the 8 again and if they go that well, will be top 4 but we gotta see first.

        • Good luck is all I’ll say to the Dogs with Foran. He is a quality player, no doubt, but he plays a very tough and direct style and will always be in the firing line. He has played injured for a long time and I can only see him miss games again. So who will be Dogs backup for Foz, Brown? Cleeland?

          Even if Foz plays every game, I still don’t think Dogs have the backs to get them over the line

        • Foran is going to be 100% fit again next year no doubt about it. I doubt he will miss much games at peak fitness. His halves partner next year is going to be Cleeland and the back up is Brown, Frawley, Lewis and Marshall. As for our backs, they have more than enough to get over the line. Don’t let this horrible season make you think they can’t generate points. The Morris boys still have plenty to offer, Hopoate will be in his preferred position in the centres, Mbye the same thing with fullback, who also has lots more to offer there than Hoppa and is a real x-factor out the back. Montoya is one of the game’s brightest young wingers and he is going to be much better over time. It won’t surprise me if he is one of the highest try scoring wingers next year with a full season and playing under a far better playing style where his centre and halves can offer him much more quality ball.

        • ParraMatt, you have said some pretty good things of late, but I am scratching my head at that one. You would swap our coach, who single handedly kept the boys going through all the cap dramas, fronted the media on behalf of the cowardly board daily, and has brought on great improvement in guys like Brown, Smith, King and Gutho, for an unproven guy with a good reputation in lower grades? Sure, Pay might turn out to be a fine coach, but he has done nothing yet.

  4. think your doggies deff a top 8 team,prob take parras place in the 8 as i cant see much improve in parra an we had pretty easy draw last year

  5. As much as it makes me sick to say this, I predict a dogs vs rorters gf in 2018. Yep dogs will not be recognisable next year and will make top 4 easily. Manly and shonknulla to slide. Broncs will struggle too.

    Early tip in no order

    dogs
    rorters
    cowgirls
    storm
    penrith
    raiders
    broncs
    eels/souths/shonknulla/dragons/tigers/titans fighting for 8th
    Spoon to warriors, not knights

    • There is no way the dogs will make the 8 next year, not even close, Foran is passed it, his best days were with Manly, plus they don’t have the backs either.

  6. Interesting call on Dugan being great for the Sharks. Although he’s to replace Jack Bird I think I know who most Sharks fans would prefer of the two. You have Moylan, potentially a very good signing, playing fullback and Val Holmes going back to the wing. Who do we then have as 5/8??? Three guys who all prefer fullback. As per the signing announcement interview, I’m pretty sure Flanno has penciled Moylan in at 6. The only mild interest now remains in the Mitchell Pearce situation.

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