Recruitment is possibly the most important gradient to success at NRL level. A well planned out and executed recruitment drive can turn a club around in very little time.
On the flip side, an unsuccessful recruitment campaign can see a side fall off the pace and face years of rebuilding.
Just like in recent years, there has been a plethora of activity in the player market.
The criteria of this takes into consideration not just the quality of the player being recruited, but the role they are expected to fill next season, and their predicted importance to their new club.
Below are the top 10 pick-ups for 2016.
10. Nate Myles (Sea Eagles)
Manly have a brilliant back five. Stewart, Hiku, Matai, Lyon and Taufua form one of the best backlines in the competition. Their halves have been amongst the world’s elite. Unfortunately in 2015, their forwards have let the Manly club down. Nate Myles will add experience, aggression and size. He should step into a mentor role as such for young Jake Trbojevic, who is a brilliant prospect. After losing Watmough and Stewart, the Sea Eagles are in need of an experienced, rep quality forward, and Nate Myles is just that.
9. Apisai Koroisau (Sea Eagles)
Although Matt Ballin has been a rock solid number nine for many years on the Northern beaches, Koroisau is capable of breaking a game wide open. This is brilliant move for both player and club, as Koroisau has been placed behind James Segeyaro during his time in Penrith. With reports that Ballin has been told he can look elsewhere, Koroisau should become the first choice hooker for Trent Barrett in 2016. At only 22 years of age, the Fijian representative still has his best footy ahead of him. For the next three years at least, that will be in Manly colours.
8. Michael Gordon (Eels)
Parramatta have struggled all season to fill the fullback role. Will Hopoate was unable to transition from centre, Reece Robinson’s best position is on the wing, and the less said the better regarding Sandow’s time in the number one, the better. In Gordon the Eels have secured a quality fullback, and a quality person. He has been the Sharks player of the year for two years running, and is having another brilliant season despite some trying circumstances. He should also provide a much more reliable place kicking option than the Eels have had all season.
7. Aidan Sezer (Raiders)
This is a move that will infuriate Titans fans. It’s highly probably that should DCE not have lead the Titans along, that they could have re-signed their talented number six. The Raiders have played well this season, but need a second creative player to aid Blake Austin. In Sezer that have signed that very player. His kicking game is ever improving and his ability to distribute should allow Austin to focus on his powerful running game. Another player who has his best footy ahead of him.
6. Issac Luke (Warriors)
Despite the fact they’re at long odds to play finals footy this season, the Warriors don’t have many weaknesses in their squad. One was perhaps the need for a genuine 80 minute hooker who can provide extra spark in attack. As good as Friend and co have been for the Auckland based side, Luke is a trump card. The danger he possessed out of dummy half will ensure opposition defences have to keep one eye on the elusive number nine, which should free up space for Johnson.
5. Trent Merrin (Panthers)
Merrin’s worth to the Dragons can be best shown by the reaction of the Dragons, who fought tooth and nail to keep him. He will instead step into a Panther’s jersey and will further strengthen an already fearsome forward pack. Merrin will be expected to act as a leader of the pack given his experience at Origin level. It’s unknown whether he will play in the front row, or at lock, but one thing is for sure, there won’t be many forward packs who will look forward to playing Penrith next season.
4. Trent Hodkinson (Knights)
The NSW halfback hasn’t enjoyed the greatest of seasons despite his selection for his state. He is not the fourth best player on this list, but his signature for Newcastle is a massive coup. Jarrod Mullen has, for far too long, played a lone hand in supplying attack for the Knights. He needs a halfback to ease his workload, and Hodkinson was the best player available at the time. His kicking game will be far superior to the likes of Gidley and Roberts. This is a zero risk recruitment that should provide big dividends on the Hunter.
3. Kieran Foran (Eels)
The Eels have had a horror 2015. Unfortunately the years prior to 2015 weren’t smooth sailing also. Kieran Foran’s signature could be the first step toward returning the blue and gold’s to success. Although it looked as though they may have bungled the contract negotiations, Foran stuck to his word, and signed for the club regardless. He’s a brilliant five-eighth and one who will not accept failure. The Eels problems will not disappear due to one good piece of business, but in Foran, they have snagged a marquee half to build a side around.
2. James Maloney (Sharks)
This signing will provide two huge positives for the Sharks. The club has long lacked two things; a genuine match winning half, and a strike centre. Maloney’s signature will provide said match winning half, whilst freeing up Jack Bird to become that strike centre. After missing out on Cherry Evans, the Sharks arguably signed a better value for money half in Maloney. The former NSW half is enjoying a special season as the Roosters, and could be the man most likely to provide the Sharks will genuine title aspirations.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)
RTS is a very special player. He literally has it all. His increased involvement since moving to fullback for the Roosters has made the Bondi based club even more dangerous. Thinking about how good the 22 year-old could be is downright frightening. He will be tasked with running off the likes of Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino and Issac Luke next season. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Sam Tomkins has not lived up to expectations. RTS will provide a faster, stronger, and more elusive option. He could be the final piece in the Warriors long sought after premiership puzzle.