One thing we all look forward to each season is seeing how players adapt to their new club. Some sink, some swim, and some even lead their team to a premiership just like James Maloney did with the Sharks last year. After close examination, and in no particular order, here are my top 10 most influential signings of 2017.
Note that I’ve only picked one signing per team.
Robbie Farah (Rabbitohs, Hooker)
We all know this one was coming. The Farah/Taylor feud is finally over, and now both can go their separate ways and concentrate on their job. Robbie Farah has a point to prove at Redfern, and in a more experienced and battle hardened team, he could find some form. He does, however, face stiff competition from incumbent hooker Damien Cook, which will only push him to go harder. If he fires, the Rabbitohs could make the 8, but if his form slump continues, the Bunnies could be going down the rabbit hole in 2017.
Kieran Foran (Warriors, Five-Eighth)
There are still question marks over whether or not Foran will even be able to feature for the Warriors this season, but if he does, he could help propel them to lofty heights. The one thing the Warriors have needed in the halves over the past few years is a steady head, and Foran is the man who can provide that. With half the Kiwis’ side in their lineup, include the entire spine, the Aucklanders have been guilty of being lazy, but make no mistake, the former Sea Eagles and Eels half has the pedigree and tenacity to take them far.
Cam McInnes (Dragons, Hooker)
Many pundits were critical of the young hooker’s performances in his first full season at the Rabbitohs in 2016, however Dragons fans needn’t worry about the former Junior Kangaroos captain. McInnes’ style of play wasn’t suited to Souths’ structures, and he will fit in much better with the Dragons who are more defence oriented. The 22 year old continually racked up colossal tackle counts and was calculated with the ball in hand while also providing some four pointers as well.
Jamal Idris (Tigers, Centre/Second Row)
As one of the most anticipated signings for this season, big Jamal lands in Tiger Town with a point to prove. After travelling the world for the past year, Idris has rediscovered his love for footy and will be doing everything in his power to play in the NRL again. If there’s one thing the Tigers are consistent with it’s scoring points, and Idris’ game breaking ability will only help their cause to make the finals for the first time in six years. Primarily a centre, the former rep could also feature in the back row or even off the bench as impact. No matter where he plays though, expect plenty of flair and brute force on show.
Blake Green (Sea Eagles, Five-Eighth)
Newly appointed captain Daly Cherry-Evans struggled with consistency in 2016, which essentially made the Sea Eagles an inconsistent mess. This year however, he has a new halves partner in the form of Blake Green. The former Storm five-eighth has the opportunity to have a stronger influence in the maroon and white than he did in Melbourne where he played second fiddle to Cooper Cronk, and I strongly believe that he could be the catalyst for a Sea Eagles’ revival. His experience and steadiness could be what Manly need to be singing the Eagle Rock again.
James Tamou (Panthers, Prop)
James Tamou comes to the Panthers as one of their biggest signings since Petero Civoniceva. With such a young, raw forward pack (minus Trent Merrin), the Riff needs a man mountain to lead them to glory, which is what Aussie Jim has been called on to do. Having spent most of his career under Matt Scott, the representative forward has the chance to influence youngsters like Regan Campbell-Gillard, James Fisher-Harris and Bryce Cartwright, and after a positive showing at the Auckland Nines, he seems to be fitting in nicely.
Nathan Brown (Eels, Prop)
After their horrid 2016, the Parramatta Eels have had a major player cleanout and will be looking the start fresh in 2017. One new face that comes into the squad is firebrand prop Nathan Brown. With some controversy surrounding him midway last season, the young forward provided some big impact off the bench for the Bunnies, and helped sway momentum during games on numerous occasions. Alongside the likes of Manu Ma’u, Beau Scott and Tepai Moeroa, Brown will add even more aggression to an already tough pack.
Jamie Buhrer (Knights, Second Row/Lock)
An underrated signing, Buhrer heads up the Pacific Highway after a shock release from his beloved Sea Eagles. The Brookvale faithful are far from thrilled from the loss of the former Origin utility, but his experience and presence will be welcomed with open arms in Newcastle. Alongside Ken Sio, Josh Starling and Rory Kostjasyn, Buhrer heads a core group of signings that should give the Knights some much needed direction, and being the only rep player, I think he’ll be the most influential.
Manaia Cherrington (Sharks, Hooker)
Young Cherrington has a huge hole to fill after the retirement of premiership winner Michael Ennis after last year’s grand final triumph. The exciting Kiwi had limited time at the Wests Tigers, but now leads the race for the number 9 jersey in the Shire. With the impending signing of James Segeyaro, ‘Cherro’ will need to be in top form to not only keep his jersey, but also continue the momentum that Ennis started, and his input could depend whether or not the Sharks keep on swimming or start to sink.
Kevin Proctor (Titans, Second Row)
The Gold Coast Titans have continued their brilliant recruitment streak with the signing of rep Kiwi backrower Kevin Proctor. One of the Storms’ most consistent players will land on the holiday strip as a key member of their forward pack, and will have plenty of say in their performances. Proctor has been one of the competition’s most underrated forwards and his experience with such a successful club will be a great addition for the success starved Titans as they look to build into one of the premiership’s contenders.
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