Ten Best NRL Players Heading To Super League in 2022

Matt Pritchard ranks the top ten National Rugby League imports heading to Super League in 2022.

As of December 19, 2021, seventeen players were heading from the NRL to Super League. In contrast, only three players are making the move from the Super League to the NRL.

10. Kaide Ellis

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From: St George-Illawarra Dragons
To: Wigan Warriors

Kaide Ellis signed with the Wigan Warriors back in July 2021 for two seasons, with an option for a third.

Before playing in the NRL, Ellis was part of the successful Penrith Panthers 2015 Under 20’s and 2017 New South Wales Cup win.

A lot of big things were expected from Ellis, however, he found himself released by the Panthers at the end of the 2019 season.

With 26 NRL games under his belt with the Panthers and St George-Illawarra Dragons, Ellis will be hoping to become a regular starter for the Warriors. Ellis is a good defender, and his game will develop with ball running in his stint with the Warriors.

9. Dylan Napa

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From: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to Catalans Dragons
To: Catalans Dragons

Dylan Napa is one of the more experienced NRL players heading to the Super League in 2022. He will join the Catalans Dragons on a two-year deal, with an option for a third.

Napa has 174 NRL matches under his belt for the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. In 2018, he was part of the Roosters premiership winning side. Napa has also appeared seven times in State of Origin for the Queensland Maroons.

Napa will bring aggression to the Catalans Dragons’ pack. However, he also comes along with a warning label that he has a history of suspension in the National Rugby League.

This signing may be the catalyst for the Dragons going one step further in 2022.

8. Danny Levi

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From: Brisbane Broncos
To: Huddersfield Giants

Danny Levi is a New Zealand-born hooker who’s joined the Huddersfield Giants for the next two seasons.

Levi has been somewhat of a journeyman in his career so far. After starting his career at the Newcastle Knights in a side which won three consecutive wooden spoons, Levi made the move to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in 2020 as their starting hooker. After being released by the Sea Eagles, Levi joined Queensland Cup side Norths Devils at the start of 2021 before being promoted to the Brisbane Broncos side for nine appearances.

Levi has good speed out of dummy half and is a strong tackler. He is a more than handy replacement for Nathan Peats who was the starting hooker at the end of the season and would come straight into the starting line-up ahead of Adam O’Brien.

7. David Fusitu’a

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From: New Zealand Warriors
To: Leeds Rhinos

Former New Zealand Warrior winger David Fusitu’a has linked with the Leeds Rhinos until the end of the 2023 Super League season.

Fusitu’a scored 61 tries in 108 appearances for the Warriors, making him the 5th highest tryscorer in the club’s history. In 2018, he topped the NRL tryscorers list with 23 tries in as many games.

It’s been an eventful two seasons for the Tonga and New Zealand International. In 2020 amidst the COVID pandemic, Fusitu’a returned home along with Ken Maumalo after the NRL were unable to arrange a travel exemption for their families. In 2021, he struggled with a recurring hamstring injury before returning to the field for the Warriors Queensland Cup feeder club, the Redcliffe Dolphins.

There’s no doubt that Fusitu’a can find his way to the line and will prove to be a valuable member of the Rhinos side in 2022. Injury-free, he could be one of the top tryscorers in the new Super League season.

6. Will Hopoate

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From: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
To: St Helens RLFC

Twenty-nine-year-old Will Hopoate has joined Super League Champions St Helens for the next two seasons, with an option for an additional year.

Hopoate has appeared in 184 games in eleven seasons between the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. In 2011, Hopoate was a premiership winner with the Sea Eagles and made his debut in the New South Wales Origin side as a 19-year-old.

The Tongan international has been a consistent performer in a struggling Bulldogs side over the last few seasons. The move to one of the premier Super League sides will bring out the best of him. Not noted for his try scoring ability, you get the feeling that will change quickly.

With the departure of Lachlan Coote to Hull Kingston Rovers, Hopoate with his experience might just have the slight advantage over Jack Welsby to play at fullback. Regardless of who gets the gig the Saints again will have a potent attack in 2022.

5. Brodie Croft

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From: Brisbane Broncos
To: Salford Red Devils

Salford Red Devils have signed former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos halfback Brodie Croft until the end of 2023.

This signing seems like the one Salford undertook when they revived Jackson Hastings’ career after an unhappy tenure at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Hastings returns to the NRL with the Wests Tigers in 2022.

It appears Croft will link up with Marc Sneyd who signed on with the club after leaving Hull FC.

At 24 years old, early in his career Croft was being described as a clone of NRL great Cooper Cronk. He is a good thinker of the game, good kicker in general play and should Salford Red Devils play with some sort of structure, will boost Salford’s direction in attack next season.

The downside is that Croft is low on confidence after being dropped by Melbourne late in 2019 and struggling to adapt to the Broncos game plan over the last two seasons. Hopefully this stint in Super League will make him feel more confident as he eyes a return to the NRL in his late twenties.

4. Billy Magoulias

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From: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
To: Warrington Wolves

Billy Magoulias has signed on with the Warrington Wolves for 2022, with an option for the 2023 season.

Despite only having 17 NRL games under his belt, Magoulias will have a positive impact in Super League not only with his work ethic but also his attitude.

In the 2019 New South Wales Cup Grand Final, Magoulias scored the matchwinner in extra-time for the Newtown Jets on their way to beating Wentworthville Magpies. One week later, he set up the winner in the NRL State Championship against Queensland Cup side Burleigh Bears with a kick over the top for Jackson Ferris to score on full-time.

Magoulias only averaged around 20 minutes per game in the NRL and given his move to Super League, expect he will have more game time and the chance to show off his excellent ball playing skills.

It won’t be long until he’s back in the NRL getting a better crack at NRL than he did at the Sharks. Maybe he’ll find a home at the new Dolphins franchise?

3. Curtis Sironen

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From: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
To: St Helens RLFC

Curtis Sironen is one of St Helens’ star recruits ahead of the 2022 Super League season, signing a two-year deal with an option of a third.

Sironen has good pedigree with his father, Paul, playing 24 tests for Australia and 247 games for the Balmain Tigers.

Curtis’ career has been hampered by injuries, limiting his match experience to 131 games in a ten-year period. His latest setback was a knee problem which saw him only appear six times in the Sea Eagles jersey this past season.

Injury-free, Sironen is an excellent ball runner with the ability to run onto the ball at speed and make good metres post contact.

Sironen is a like-for-like replacement for the retired Joel Thompson and will have a huge impact on St Helens chances of going back-to-back-to-back in 2022.

2. Mitchell Pearce

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From: Newcastle Knights
To: Catalans Dragons

Mitchell Pearce is set to end his rugby league career in Super League after signing a two-year contract and an option for a third.

The intrigue in the NRL will be whether Pearce’s move will result in Luke Brooks signing on the dotted line with the Newcastle Knights before the new season kicks off.

He is a direct replacement for James Maloney who’s opted to play in the French Elite 1 competition with Lezignan, ending his Super League and NRL career.

Pearce is by far the most experience NRL player heading to the 2022 Super League competition having played 309 career matches with the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights and representing New South Wales at State of Origin level on 19 occasions.

On any given day, Pearce can be a match-winner whether it’s through his set plays or kicking game. In his prime, the halves combination of Pearce and Maloney at the Roosters carved up opposition teams at will. Time will tell if he can strike the same combination with Arthur Mourgue or Josh Drinkwater.

Catalans already have some excellent overseas players in Sam Kasiano, Dean Whare, and recruit Dylan Napa. Pearce adds to the Catalans credentials to go one better in 2022.

1. Cade Cust

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From: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
To: Wigan Warriors

Cade Cust joins glamour Super League club Wigan Warriors on a two-year deal, with an option for a further season.

Cust might be a surprise selection as the best Super League signing from the NRL in 2022. The value he could bring to the Wigan Warriors is quite high, despite his limited impact in the Sea Eagles season where he started ten times from the bench and scoring twice.

The key being, he played with the same club as Queensland Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans and former New Zealand International Kieran Foran. There’s no doubt their influence will rub off on Cust’s game.

At 23-years of age, there’s plenty of exuberance and aggression in Cust’s game. Given the opportunity to shine in his own right, Cust has a big chance to show the rugby league world he’s worthy of being a star in the game.

Earlier in his career, Cust was part of the Sea Eagles’ 2017 Under 20’s competition success. He made his NRL debut in 2019 in Manly’s win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

It’s a big year for Wigan Warriors with Matt Peet replacing Adrian Lam as head coach. They’ll be hoping the recruitment of Cade Cust can see them go further into the finals series after bowing out to Leeds Rhinos in the first week in 2021.

Other National Rugby League to Super League transfers*

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11. Kade Evans (New Zealand Warriors to Hull FC), 12. Patrick Mago (South Sydney Rabbitohs to Wigan Warriors), 13. Tyrone May (Penrith Panthers to Catalans Dragons), 14. Tim Lafai (Parramatta NSW Cup to Salford Red Devils), 15. Joey Lussick (Parramatta Eels to St Helens RLFC), 16. Joe Lovodua (South Sydney Rabbitohs to Hull FC), 17. Shane Wright (North Queensland Cowboys to Salford Red Devils).

* as of 19th December 2021

Related: https://nothingbutleague.com/2020/12/28/ten-best-nrl-players-heading-super-league-2021/

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