There are more than a dozen NRL imports who will play in Super League XXIII.
Some players are returning after a stint in the NRL, such as Dan Sarginson’s move to Wigan and Tyrone McCarthy signing with Salford. These players aren’t included in the list.
Here’s a quick guide of what to expect from some fresh faces and a few familiar faces.
DAVID MEAD (Catalans Dragons)
David Mead led PNG to one of their most successful Rugby League World Cup campaigns in history. His move to Super League allowed Brisbane Broncos to accommodate ex-Cronulla Shark Jack Bird within their salary cap. At 29, Mead still has a few good years left in him and the Dragons will need his experience to avoid another fight to survive in the Super League. Best rated of the imports.
BURETA FARIAMO (Hull FC)
Bureta Fariamo has struggled to breakthrough in the NRL with only 15 matches under his belt since 2014. Hull FC have given the USA International a chance to take up recently departed Mahe Fonua’s wing position. He may struggle with consistency during 2018.
MICKEY PAEA (Hull FC)
Mickey Paea is no stranger to Hull FC fans having spent time with the club in 2014 and 2015. A relatively unsuccessful stint followed at the Newcastle Knights making just twenty appearances in two seasons. Experienced, solid utility who will provide impact off the bench.
NATHANIEL PETERU (Leeds Rhinos)
Nathaniel Peteru is a massive prop that got his break at the fledgling Gold Coast Titans franchise, making fourteen appearances in 2017. Peteru might be the most underrated of the NRL imports heading to Super League in 2018. Expect the Rhinos to make use of him as an interchange.
JACK LITTLEJOHN (Salford Red Devils)
Jack Littlejohn has been restricted to playing Intrust Super Premiership with both Manly and Wests Tigers over the last couple of years. Littlejohn failed to shine in a Tigers side that had it’s fair share of on and off-field problems in 2017. One gets the feeling it’s déjà vu at Salford with many suggesting this club will struggle to stay afloat in Super League after this season. Sadly may not offer too much for the Red Devils but time will tell.
BEN NAKUBUWAI (Salford Red Devils)
Ben Nakubuwai is another Gold Coast Titan looking for an opportunity in the north of England. He’s got just two NRL matches under his name, spending most of him time at Tweed Heads Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup. Comparisons have been made to Fijian legend Petero Civoniceva. Could show promise at his new club.
PAULI PAULI (Wakefield Trinity)
Pauli Pauli is looking to get his rugby league career back on track after what would be described as a horrendous 2017. He was injured in a seven car pile-up in early 2017 and broke his fibula playing for their Intrust Super Premiership side in July. A tall and strong player who shows plenty of promise if he can remain injury-free.
TYLER RANDELL (Wakefield Trinity)
Tyler Randell is a Newcastle Knights junior, making 44 appearances for his club between 2014 and 2017. His move to Wakefield Trinity will be to establish himself as the starting number nine. Unfortunately he’s faced an early setback to his move to Super League after rupturing his medial knee ligament in the friendly against Leeds Rhinos. Solid player, good pick-up for the club.
SITALEKI AKAULOA (Warrington Wolves)
Sitaleki Akauloa is a quiet gentle giant who spent his last two seasons at Penrith after starting out with the Wests Tigers as part of their successful 2012 National Youth squad. The Tongan international will give the Wire some good go-forward from the bench.
BRYSON GOODWIN (Warrington Wolves)
If Bryson Goodwin isn’t the best rated of the imports, he’s not too far off it. An excellent clubman at three different NRL clubs, the latest being South Sydney where week-in and week-out he gave 110% in a side which didn’t reach their potential. With 176 games and 70 tries, Bryson Goodwin will become a crowd favourite at Halliwell Jones. Hopefully his presence is enough for the club to stay out of the 2018 Qualifiers.
TYRONE ROBERTS (Warrington Wolves)
Tyrone Roberts showed plenty of promise at the Newcastle Knights, before making a big money move to the Gold Coast Titans. It wasn’t a happy time for the five-eighth in 2017 with Neil Henry playing him at fullback, five-eighth, hooker and from the bench at different times of the year. He’ll be hoping to play in the halves at his new club. With a little bit of confidence, Roberts could be a good pick-up for the Wire.
WILL MATTHEWS (Widnes Vikings)
Will Matthews has 93 NRL appearances to his belt with the Titans and Dragons over the last ten seasons. Of interest, Cronulla were interested in his signature back in 2015 but he stayed with the Dragons – making only a single appearance last year. There’s nothing special about his game – good hard-working utility forward at the back-end of his career.
KATO OTTIO (Widnes Vikings)
Note: Kato Ottio passed away on Tuesday, January 9 just a few days after the original posting of this article. More details here.
Kato Ottio had an outstanding tournament for Papua New Guinea at the recent Rugby League World Cup and will become a cult-hero at Halton Stadium this summer. Some rate him as the unluckiest player not to make it to the NRL despite being on the cusp of making his debut at Canberra in 2017. In open space he’s hard to catch. Let’s hope he not only gets game time, but becomes a star of the game. The NRL’s loss is Super League’s gain.