New Year, New You: Who each NRL club needs to shine if they are to hit the heights in 2024


2023 is done and 2024 is hurtling towards the horizon for all 17 NRL clubs.

With the new season looming, let’s look at the key players that each club need to shine if they are to achieve their best in the year to come.

Brisbane: Adam Reynolds

The Broncos loom as genuine contenders again, but need Reynolds and his ageing 33-year-old body to stay fit. His value showed in the Broncos’ grand-final capitulation, as he battled a groin injury and had an unhappy night.

Canberra: Jamal Fogarty

All the pressure is on Fogarty in Canberra as the only proven member of the Raiders’ spine. The No.1 jersey is still up for grabs, while Kaeo Weekes and Zac Woolford could be the other men to join him in key positions.

Canterbury: Stephen Crichton

So many big-name recruits have landed at Belmore in recent years, but failed to deliver. Cameron Ciraldo desperately needs Crichton to buck that trend, with the three-time premiership winner to get his shot at fullback.

Cronulla: Braden Hamlin-Uele and Royce Hunt

The Sharks have Addin Fonua-Blake’s muscle coming in 2025, but they need some size in their middle immediately. Hamlin-Uele and Hunt can offer that, with the Sharks needing their consistent aggression.

Tom Flegler is tackled. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Dolphins: Tom Flegler

The first-year issues around the Dolphins’ depth are slowly being resolved and there is no better signing than Flegler. Had a career year at Brisbane last season, and will be asked to lead the way in the middle with Jesse Bromwich and Tom Gilbert.

Gold Coast: AJ Brimson

The Titans didn’t see him consistently last year because of  injuries, but they desperately need his spark in a spine that lacks x-factor. Des Hasler is renowned for unleashing attacking fullbacks, and needs to do so with Brimson.

Manly: Tom Trbojevic

Luke Brooks and Josh Schuster face big years, but it will mean little if Trbojevic isn’t healthy. Was starting to hit his straps before the pectoral tear last year, and his one fit season in the past four took Manly to the preliminary finals.

Melbourne: Cameron Munster

Headlines a number of top-tier players who need to return to their best at Melbourne in 2024 if the Storm are to take the next step again. The Storm need the kind of returns Munster has produced for Queensland in recent seasons.

Kalyn Ponga celebrates a try. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Newcastle: Kalyn Ponga

Can he back it up? Ponga’s run at the end of last season was one of the best in Newcastle history and took the Knights to the semi-finals. But the Knights need that form to become the norm for their No.1 and not an outlier.

North Queensland: Tom Dearden

Dearden was solid in 2023, but his plight summed up that of the Cowboys when he failed to live up to the extreme highs of the previous year. The halfback is one of a cast of players needing to return to their 2022 form.

Parramatta: Brendan Hands

Expected to be given the No.9 jersey following Josh Hodgson’s medical retirement. The 24-year-old showed promise in his rookie season, but has a big role to play as Parramatta attempt to return to the finals.

Jarome Luai. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Penrith: Jarome Luai

Can he continue after telling the Panthers 2024 will be his last year at the club? Luai’s creativity will be crucial in Penrith’s bid for a “four-peat”, with Stephen Crichton’s threat on the left edge no more.

St George Illawarra: Kyle Flanagan

Shane Flanagan insists the same pressure is not on his son as when the playmaker arrived at Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters. But Talatau Amone’s deregistration means Kyle will be the man to wear No.6.

South Sydney: Jason Demetriou

Can he mend the Rabbitohs after their 2023 capitulation? Demetriou needs Latrell Mitchell fit and Lachlan Ilias to fulfil his potential in the halves, but more than anything he needs a happy playing and coaching group after last season’s ructions.

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Sydney Roosters: Sam Walker

Had a roller-coaster 2023 through injury and the axe back to reserve grade, but recovered to win a finals match off his boot. The Roosters need to see Walker’s old flair mixed with the benefits of experience in 2024.

Warriors: Addin Fonua-Blake

For all the excitement of the Warriors’ attack and revival of Shaun Johnson in 2023, it was Fonua-Blake’s power that set up their preliminary-final run. He will leave at season’s end, but the Warriors need him happy and backing up last season’s form.

Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall

Marshall becomes the sixth coach to try to return the Tigers to the finals. Much external focus will be on 2025 when Jarome Luai arrives, but the start of life under Marshall will dictate the kind of club the playmaker enters.

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