With only three rounds to go before the finals, many clubs will be looking at their player rosters and salary cap calculators to determine how to be more competitive next year and improve their position on the table.
The bottom eight are pretty much set in concrete and, of the top eight, Cronulla and Newcastle are just hanging on to premiership aspirations by their fingernails.
Apart from the hot topic of coaches, who are apparently 100 per cent responsible for team results, it’s ultimately the quality of the playing roster that is the key to either success or failure.
A look through most playing rosters reveal both some bad salary cap investments, and players who are not playing up to club expectations.
In order to move forward, clubs need to take action to remove the dead wood and use the salary cap savings to not only retain their quality players, but also make the required squad additions.
Here are some players, signed beyond this season, who will be put under the microscope by club retention committees in coming weeks:
Broncos: Jack Bird (player option for 2021); Matthew Lodge (signed until 2022); Anthony Milford (2021)
Canterbury Bankstown: Dylan Napa (2021); Josh Jackson (2023)
Cronulla: Josh Dugan (2021); Nene McDonald (2021); Matt Moylan (2021)
Gold Coast: Bryce Cartwright (2021)
Manly: Brad Parker (2021); Moses Suli (2022)
Newcastle: Tim Glasby (2021)
New Zealand: Adam Blair (player option for 2021)
Cowboys: Jake Granville (2021); Esan Marsters (2022); Justin O’Neill (2021)
Parramatta: Daniel Alvaro (2021); Blake Ferguson (2021); Michael Jennings (2022)
South Sydney: Ethan Lowe (2021)
St George – Illawarra: Trent Merrin (2021); Corey Norman (2021; Korbin Sims (2021); Tariq Sims (2022)
Roosters: Ryan Hall (mutual option for 2021)
Wests Tigers: Russell Packer (2021): Josh Reynolds (2021)
Interestingly, I couldn’t identify any dead wood in the playing rosters of either the Panthers, Storm or Canberra.
Not everyone will agree with the above list and I’m sure that I’ve missed a few, but there’s quite a number of players who may receive a tap on the shoulder in the next couple of months.
Of course, identifying the dead wood is one thing, but moving players on is another. There are contracts to consider, for what they’re worth these days, and where will these players go?