The new year is upon us and teams are only a few days away from resuming training for the 2022 season.
While our leading teams have been a little quiet on the recruitment front, some teams outside the top eight have a number of big new signings.
Whether that’s enough to rocket them up the table, only time will tell. For now though, I take a look at the top four teams as far as recruitment is concerned in 2022.
Jaydn Su’A (Rabbitohs), Francis Molo (Cowboys), George Burgess (Wigan), Moses Mbye (Wests Tigers), Moses Suli (Sea Eagles), Aaron Woods (Sharks), Jack Gosiewski (Sea Eagles), Tautau Moga (Rabbitohs)
After a season derailed by BBQ-gate, Anthony Griffin has made plenty of changes, mainly to a forward pack that underperformed in 2021.
Jaydn Su’A, Francis Molo, George Burgess, Aaron Woods and Jack Gosiewski will all be seeking a spot in the Dragons 2022 middle.
Moses Mbye, Moses Suli and Tautau Moga can provide some spark to St George Illawarra’s back line, with Mbye certainly in contention for the vacant fullback spot.
With Adam Clune and Corey Norman leaving the club, the Dragons’ young halves, led by Jayden Sullivan, have a big job on their hands in 2022.
Cameron McInnes (Dragons), Nicho Hynes (Storm), Dale Finucane (Storm), Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters), Lachlan Miller (rugby sevens), Jayden Berrell (Wynnum Manly)
Where Griffin has gone for quantity, incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon will be more than happy with his recruitment quality.
Cam McInnes and Dale Finucane will provide some starch to a young Cronulla pack that have showed plenty of promise but leaked too many points in 2021.
For Cronulla to challenge for a top-eight spot, defence needs to be the focus and Fitzgibbon will be well aware of this.
Despite this, Sharks fans will be most excited by the arrival of Nicho Hynes, who will partner Braydon Trindall or Matt Moylan in the halves.
The back-line depth will be boosted by the signings of Matt Ikuvalu and Lachie Miller.
Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs), Kurt Capewell (Panthers), Brenko Lee (Storm), Corey Jensen (Cowboys), Logan Bayliss (Souths Logan), Jordan Pereira (Dragons), Ryan James (Raiders), Billy Walters (Wests Tigers)
After a couple of years spent battling it out with the Bulldogs for the wooden spoon, Kevin Walters is looking to turn around the Broncos with some high-profile signings.
Adam Reynolds is the big one. His quality kicking game is exactly what Brisbane have been missing.
He should be able to generate plenty of repeat sets, and the Broncos do have the attacking fire power to take advantage.
Kurt Capewell is another key signing, adding more Origin experience to the Broncos’ line-up.
I would also expect Brenko Lee, Corey Jensen, Jordan Pereira and Ryan James to get plenty of game time in 2022.
Matt Burton (Panthers), Josh Addo-Carr (Storm), Brent Naden (Panthers), Matt Dufty (Dragons), Paul Vaughan (Dragons), Tevita Pangai Junior (Broncos/Panthers), Josh Cook (Rabbitohs), Max King (Storm), Braidon Burns (Rabbitohs)
The only way is up for the Bulldogs and Trent Barrett will be confident his new recruits will get Canterbury moving in that direction.
I would expect Matt Burton to play in the six jersey and that solves one half of the Bulldogs’ halves puzzle.
Josh Addo-Carr, Brent Naden, Matt Dufty and Braidon Burns all possess some real pace that Bulldogs back lines have gone without in recent years.
Paul Vaughan and Tevita Pangai Junior will improve the Bulldogs’ pack.
Having said all that, Canterbury’s spine remains a work in progress and is likely where the Bulldogs require further strength this season.
So, there it is, the top four.
Will all of these teams play finals footy? Unfortunately, for long suffering fans, the answer is no.
Probably one, possibly two but there are unlikely to be any more.
However, if improvement is higher on the agenda, then all these clubs should have a better year ahead.