A number of star players are moving from their 2018 clubs for the next NRL season, and that means that several clubs have serious cash to spend. While Jarryd Hayne is no longer shopping himself around as he deals with an aggravated assault charge, the departure of Valentine Holmes (with a year to run on his contract) to test himself in American Football means there will be plenty of interest this off-season.
In addition, Shaun Johnson has been released by the Warriors, also with a year still on his contract, while David Klemmer has defected from the Bulldogs to the Knights. Canterbury have replaced Klemmer by luring Dylan Napa from the Roosters.
All this movement means that the Sharks, Warriors and Roosters find themselves with plenty of room to move under the salary cap, while the Bulldogs will still have some change left over from what they were paying Klemmer. Johnson, who is a top level player, is expected to sign with the Sharks and take up the space vacated by Holmes – but the other three clubs will be going hunting.
While Holmes’ finishing ability will be a big loss for Cronulla, Johnson is one of the best running playmakers around, and his combination with Matt Moylan (who is likely to move back to fullback, and who is also strong in both ball running and playing) has the potential to be devastating – especially with Chad Townsend organising the team and leaving the two of them to focus on their magic.
The Warriors are now in the market for a halfback, and are rumoured to be looking at a raid on Parramatta’s stocks. They have been linked to both Mitch Moses, who has shown a lot of potential but not yet lived up to it, and highly rated young gun Dylan Brown. Neither player is likely to be released by the Eels without a lot of compensation.
The Roosters will also be on the lookout for a quality forward to replace Napa, and a few clubs with highly rated front-rowers will be on their toes. The Bulldogs can also look at possibly making a marquee signing after losing a host of top players this year – although they are still paying part of some of their salaries, they are starting to build a war chest.
With the coaching saga also still continuing as Wayne Bennett tries to force the Bronco’s to sack him and pay him out if they want to replace him for next year, we can expect plenty more big NRL news – even if there is still a whole summer to go till the first game of 2019!