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National Rugby League 2024 Preview

Now, the moment we have all been eagerly awaiting – the return of the National Rugby League (NRL). The team everyone is chasing is still the Penrith Panthers, but with the losses and acquisitions this off-season, there are definitely some new movers and shakers ready to make some noise.

This preview is going to breakdown each teams ins and outs, analyse how each team will look through the season and who finishes where. Final positions will be on a two position band.

Brisbane Broncos

The Broncos are one of the top rated teams heading in to the 24′ season. They lost a handful of good players, but were smart enough to fill the holes quickly.

Players OUT

  • Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins)
  • Keenan Palasia (Titans)
  • Tom Flegler (Dolphins)
  • Logan Bayliss (Unsigned)
  • Kurt Capewell (Warriors)

Players IN

  • Fletcher Baker (Roosters)
  • Jaiyden Hunt (Dragons)

While the departures might look impactful initially, talents such as Corey Jensen and Brendan Piakura are well-prepared to join the starting line-up of forwards, complemented by seasoned Broncos like Payne Haas, Jordan Riki, and Pat Carrigan. Moreover, the Broncos aren’t short on skilled outside backs to step in for Herbie Farnworth, ensuring the team remains competitive and dynamic.

Predicted finish 2nd to 4th

Canberra Raiders

The Raiders lost some of their top rated skill position players this off-season and really struggled to fill those gaps. They will be competitive this season, but, you can’t see them being a finals threat.

Players OUT

  • Jack Wighton (to South Sydney Rabbitohs)
  • Matt Frawley (to Leeds Rhinos)
  • Jarrod Croker (retired)
  • Clay Webb (unsigned)
  • Harley Smith-Shields (to Gold Coast Titans)

Players IN

  • Simi Sasagi (from Newcastle Knights)
  • Kaeo Weekes (from Manly Sea Eagles)
  • Morgan Smithies (from Wigan Warriors)
  • Zac Hosking (from Penrith Panthers)

The Raiders face a notable loss in leadership with the retirement of Jarrod Croker after his 300th NRL game and Jack Wighton’s departure to the Rabbitohs. Croker’s consistent presence since 2009 and Wighton’s 12-season tenure leave a void in experience, particularly in the halves, posing a challenge for the team’s dynamics moving forward.

Projected finish 10th to 12th

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have been an horrific rugby side for the better part of a decade now. This off-season saw a complete overhaul that doesn’t really inspire on paper.

Players OUT

  • Jake Averillo (to Dolphins)
  • Tevita Pangai Junior (retired)
  • Kyle Flanagan (to Dragons)
  • Paul Alamoti (to Panthers)
  • Luke Thompson (to Wigan Warriors)
  • Corey Waddell (to Sea Eagles)
  • Braidon Burns (unsigned)
  • Declan Casey (unsigned)

Players IN

  • Connor Tracey (from Sharks)
  • Bronson Xerri (returning from suspension)
  • Stephen Crichton (from Panthers)
  • Blake Taaffe (from Rabbitohs)
  • Jaeman Salmon (from Panthers)
  • Josh Curran (from Warriors)
  • Drew Hutchison (from Roosters)
  • Kurt Mann (from Knights)
  • Jake Turpin (from Roosters)
  • Poasa Faamausili (from Dolphins)

In 2024, the Canterbury Bulldogs are embarking on a dynamic transformation under Ciraldo, incorporating up to six fresh faces into their main lineup, marking a strategic shift in the team’s structure. This move, initiated by Phil Gould since 2021, has seen 39 players exit, paving the way for high-profile talents like Stephen Crichton, Kurt Mann, Drew Hutchison and Josh Curran to infuse the squad with their expertise and a culture of success.

Projected finish 13th to 15th

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

The Sharks season hinges on whether or not star half Nicho Hynes can find another level. While he is a great player, he needs to lift in order for the Sharks to make a mark this season. They are hampered by a real lack of dynamic front row play.

Players OUT

  • Wade Graham (retired)
  • Matt Moylan (to Leigh Leopards)
  • Connor Tracey (to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Players IN

  • Billy Burns (from Dragons)
  • Michael Gabrael (from Bulldogs)

Craig Fitzgibbon’s squad is well-rounded and of high quality, though it could use more force in the forward positions and depth in specific roles. If the team can steer clear of significant injuries—a challenge many teams face—they’re well-positioned for a finals run – but this feels more likely next season. However, they should brace for more intense scrutiny compared to their fellow finalists.

Projected finish 9th to 11th


The not Redcliffe Dolphins were a bit if a surprise package last season. Many had them fighting for the spoon, but they fought through a monsterous list of injuries to finish 13th. This off-season they’ve brought in an wealth of talent and look better set than a season ago.

Players OUT

  • Brenko Lee (released)
  • Herman Ese’ese (to Hull FC)

Players IN

  • Herbie Farnworth (from Broncos)
  • Thomas Flegler (from Broncos)
  • Jake Averillo (from Bulldogs)

That in list may not be massive – but two massive pickups are Jake Averillo who was able to create something from nothing for the woeful Bulldogs and Herbie Farnworth who is regarded as one of the brightest up-and-coming talents in the NRL. The Dolphins are positioned well to beat last season’s finish – but can they stay healthy?

Projected finish 12th to 14th

Gold Coast Titans

The Gold Coast Titans have made some great acquisitions and not just at coach. Keenan Palasia was an absolute steal for this fringe side. This team has great potential and upside to be a top 8 staple for the next five years – however, that seems more likely to being during the 2025 season.

Players OUT

Aaron Booth (retired)
Patrick Herbert (released)
Kruise Leeming (to Wigan Warriors)
Sam McIntyre (to Cowboys)
Thomas Makaele (to Cowboys)
Toby Sexton (to Bulldogs)

Players IN

Keenan Palasia (from Broncos)
Harley Smith-Shields (from Raiders)

This side was able to retain some key players like David Fifita, Phillip Sami and Tanah Boyd. The retainment of experience and leadership will be invaluable in the coming seasons, however this season feels like it could be too high of an expectation for Des Hasler and co.

Projected Finish 12th to 14th

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Much like a team yet to be covered, the Sea Eagles are to centred around the impact of one player. Tom Trbojevic, while a sensational talent, is often to injured to be the reliable spark the Sea Eagles need to be a mainstay in the top 8. While the focus sits on Tommy Turbo, the lack of a punch up front sometimes goes un-noticed.

Players OUT

Latu Fainu (to Tigers)
Samuela Fainu (to Tigers)
Morgan Harper (to Eels)
Sean Keppie (to Rabbitohs)
Kelma Tuilagi (to Eels)
Christian Tuipulotu (to Dragons)
Kaeo Weekes (to Raiders)

Players IN

Luke Brooks (from Tigers)
Nathan Brown (from Eels)
Bailey Hodgson (from Knights)
Aitasi James (from Tigers)
Jaxson Paulo (from Roosters)
Tommy Talau (from Tigers)
Corey Waddell (from Bulldogs)
Brandon Wakeham (from Tigers)

While the forwards do lack versatility and powers, there is a dynamic group of playmakers on this side to stay competitive. Luke Brooks will free some of the pressure from Daley Cherry-Evans who will be the pilot of this side again this season. Expect Manly to fight for a playoff spot.

Projected Finish 9th to 11th

Melbourne Storm

Arguably the most professionally ran sports organisation in Australia. No junior pipeline, biggest AFL market in the country but still able to find the toughest, most skillful grinders style players in the league. The fact this team can have 30% possession for a game and still win has become the hallmark of this side. Switching from multiple immortals to todays roster was one of the smoothest transitions any sport has seen.

Players OUT

Tom Eisenhuth (to Dragons)
Jaden Nikorima (to Catalan Dragons)
Justin Olam (to Tigers)
Tariq Sims (to Catalan Dragons)

Players IN

Shawn Blore (from Tigers)

A plethora of re-signs such as Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Nick Meaney and Grant Anderson will keep the Storm fighting for a top 4 spot again this season no doubt. Many are saying this could be Craig Bellamy’s final season – if the Storm don’t win it all, he will be back.

Projected Finish 2nd to 4th

Newcastle Knights

This is Kalyn Ponga’s team, make no mistake about it. However, this team made a sensational second half push in 2023, the likely continuation of that is slim with big losses in Kurt Mann and top tryscorer Dominic Young. These departures will be bolstered by potentially equitable signings in Jack Cogger and Kai Pearce-Paul. But they need to live up to the billing however.

Players OUT

Kurt Mann (to Bulldogs)
Adam Clune (to Huddersfield)
Dominic Young (to Roosters)
Lachlan Fitzgibbon (to Warrington)
Simi Sasagi (to Canberra)
Lachlan Miller (to Leeds)
Bailey Hodgson (to Sea Eagles)
Dane Aukafolau (to Northern Pride QLD Cup)
Hymel Hunt (released)
Jack Johns (released)

Players IN

Will Pryce (from Huddersfield)
Kai Pearce-Paul (from Wigan)
Jack Cogger, Thomas Jenkins (from Panthers)
Jed Cartwright (from Rabbitohs)

A lot of talent was lost during the offseason, some would say it was replaced. Jed Cartwright needs to show his ability to stay healthy, Pearce-Paul needs to show he can handle the tempo of Australian Rugby League as it is a different animal to the Super League. The Knights won’t reach the heights of last season – but they will come close. But for this to happen, Ponga must stay healthy.

Projected Finish 4th to 6th

North Queensland Cowboys

The addition of Chad Townsend was a huge boon for this roster, this has made the life of Tom Dearden a lot less stressful. New additions like Jeremiah Nanai and Heilum Luki gives the Cowboys one of the more explosive and boom or bust second rows in the league.

Players OUT

Ben Hampton (released) 
Brendan Elliot (released)
Gehamat Shibasaki (released)
Taniela Sadrugu (to Fiji rugby union)
Jake Bourke (to Limoux)
Peta Hiku (to Hull KR)
Riley Price (to Panthers)
Mitch Dunn (retired)
James Tamou (retired)

Players IN

Viliami Vailea (from Warriors)
Jake Clifford (from Hull FC)
Thomas Mikaele (from Titans)

A lot of outs hit the Cowboys this offeseason, but with a very good spine on this roster. Being able to keep key players like Jeremiah Nanai, Reece Robson and Tom Duffy helps keep this teams chemsitry in a spot where it can grow. The potential is there with this roster, but this reads like a fight to get in type of season.

Projected Finish 7th to 9th

Parramatta Eels

4th in attacking efficiency and 15th in defensive efficiency, this side was the definition of unbalanced last season. The Eels lost a ton of skill position players and continued on their way of not trying to bring in talent. The side is either trying to make a silent rebuild, or they just don’t like to spend money to be competitive.

Players OUT

Jack Murchie (to Huddersfield)
Waqa Blake (to St Helens)
Andrew Davey (retired) 
Josh Hodgson (retired)
Samuel Loizou (to Wests Magpies NSW Cup)

Players IN

Morgan Harper (from Sea Eagles) 
Kelma Tuilagi (from Sea Eagles)

The Dylan Brown suspension proved to much to overcome last season. The catalyst for a late season dip out of the top 8. Mitchell Moses going down only added to the strain of it all, however, this side will have both its starting halves to being the season and are well poised to struggle again. When a terrible defence goes unadressed – you are going to have a bad time.

Projected Finish 11th to 13th

Penrith Panthers

The cream of the crop lost a ton of players as they were raided and had to make some tough decision like not bringing back Critter, Cogger or Leniu, however, this team is still just stacked. After being robbed in Wigan for the World Club Championship, they will have a point to prove on the quest for four.

Players OUT

Stephen Crichton (to Bulldogs) 
Jaeman Salmon (to Bulldogs)
Spencer Leniu (to Roosters)
Jack Cogger, Thomas Jenkins (to Knights)
Zac Hosking (to Raiders)
Eddie Blacker (to Norths Devils QLD Cup)
Chris Smith (released)

Players IN

Daine Laurie (from Wests Tigers)
Brad Schneider (from Hull KR)
Paul Alamoti (from Bulldogs)

Led by Nathan Cleary, this is one of, if not, the MOST balanced roster potentially in NRL history. The ability to seemingly find star after star has put the Panthers on a trajectory of not seen since the 1960’s Dragons – the fourpeat.

Projected Finish 1st to 2nd

South Sydney Rabbitohs

A discombobulated 23′ campaign that doesn’t seem to offer a great deal of hope heading into the 24′ season. While the team has great talent across the park, the lack of cohesion with one another is the biggest issue.

Players OUT

Hame Sele (to Dragons)
Blake Taaffe (to Bulldogs)
Jed Cartwright (to Knights)
Terrell Kalo Kalo (released)

Players IN

Jack Wighton (from Raiders)
Sean Keppie (from Sea Eagles)

Not a great deal of difference in losses to acquisitions should have this teams fan base expecting a much similar campaign to the last. If there are injuries to key players – thez could easily miss the 8. However, they should be able to do just enough to make it in.

Projected Finish 8th to 10th

St. George Illawarra Dragons

This team hasn’t done a great deal off the park to inspire it’s fan base that they are going in the right direction. A new coach, same off-field moves and actually losing out on signings that they had made with Talatau Amone being dergistered and Ronald Volkman being cancelled due to injury.

Players OUT

Jayden Sullivan (to Tigers)
Zane Musgrove (to Warrington)
Jaiyden Hunt (to Bronco)
Billy Burns (to Sharks)
Talatau Amone (deregistered)
Nick Lui-Toso (to Wests Magpies NSW Cup)
Tautau Moga (retired)
Tyrell Fuimaono (unsigned)

Players IN

Hame Sele (from Rabbitohs)
Kyle Flanagan (from Bulldogs)
Raymond Faitala-Mariner (from Bulldogs)
Tom Eisenhuth (from Storm)
Corey Allan (from Roosters)
Christian Tuipulotu (from Sea Eagles)
Jesse Marschke (from North Sydney)

The roster changes don’t inspire a great deal and the Red V that seems to have become the factory of sadness will continue on its path of mediocrity again this season. Lacking punch all over the roster and don’t have an individual star that can break a game.

Projected Finish 15th to 17th

Sydney Roosters

The 23′ campaign for the Rooster was an odd one. Finishing with a paltry 19.6 points per game had them scoring more on average than just the Tigers and the Bulldogs, the basement of the league. Bringin in Dominic Young was the spark this team needed to find. The 23′ top scorer for the Knights will bring his talents to the Easts and maybe more points.

Players OUT

Fletcher Baker (to Broncos)
Jaxson Paulo (to Sea Eagles)
Paul Momirovski (to Leeds)
Drew Hutchison (to Bulldogs)
Jake Turpin (to Bulldogs)
Corey Allan (to Dragons)
Ben Thomas (to North Sydney NSW Cup)
Nathan Brown (released)

Players IN

Spencer Leniu (from Panthers)
Dominic Young (from Knights)
Lewis Murphy (from Wakefield)

This is a team that is built for a top four finish. The bench rotation is second possibly only to the Panthers. The only thing that will hold them back is if their halves can remain healthy – it is going on year three now and they haven’t finished a full season together. If this is the year they do it, they can make the final.

Projected Finish 3rd to 5th

New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors, a top four side just a season ago – the surprise package of the NRL, will be hoping for a repeat this season. Some solid signings to cover up the losses. This side has potential and it can beat anyone on anyday of the week with the explosive nature of their attack. If the errors can be contained, this could be their season.

Players OUT

Viliame Vailea (to Cowboys)
Bayley Sironen (to Catalans Dragons)
Brayden Wiliame (retired)
Josh Curran (to Bulldogs)
Valingi Kepu (released)
Ronald Volkman (dergistered)

Players IN

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (from Auckland Blues)
Chanel Harris-Tavita (gap year)
Kurt Capewell (from Broncos)

It can’t be ignored that a lot talent left the building, and the hopes are that a 30-year-old Roger Tuivase-Sheck, learning a new position at centre, can give this team the firepower it needs. It’s hard to see it, but with how monsterous the forward pack is, they will be able to wear opponents down and make the top 8.

Projected Finish 5th to 7th

Wests Tigers

The Benji Marshall era begins now, the new coach for the Tigers has started building out HIS team. Luke Brooks is out, Ken Maumalo is out and David Nafoaluma is out. Some big names and a ton of experience walks out the door for a team looking to avoid the wooden spoon threepeat.

Players OUT

Shawn Blore (to Storm)
Luke Brooks (to Sea Eagles)
Atasi James (to Sea Eagles)
Dane Laurie (to Panthers)
Ken Maumalo (to Titans)
David Nafoaluma (to Salford Red Devils)
Joe Ofahengaue (to Eels)
Tommy Talau (to Sea Eagles)
Brandon Wakeham (to Sea Eagles)

Players IN

Latu Fainu (from Sea Eagles)
Samuela Fainu (from Sea Eagles)
Justin Olam (from Storm)
Aidan Sezer (from Leeds Rhinos)
Jayden Sullivan (from Dragons)

A wealth of talent and experience left this side and while Aidan Sezer brings some of that experience back, the lack of a true game breaker means this side will be stuggling again. The lack of scoring power averaging just 17 points a game last campaign and not doing much to boost it will leave Tigers fans fearing the dreaded Wooden Spoon threepeat.

Projected Finish 15th to 17th