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Shiny and new: Every club's best recruit for 2021

Whether they be a young prospect or a hardened veteran, it's always exciting when a player joins a new club.

An astute signing or two can often drastically change a club's fortunes, making the recruitment manager's job crucial.

There's been a flurry of movement over the summer, and as season 2021 draws nearer, has named each team's key recruit.

Some will quickly become cornerstones in their fresh surroundings, while others may bide their time before showing their worth.

Brisbane Broncos

John Asiata

After the departures of prop Joe Ofahengaue and edge forward David Fifita, John Asiata's signing has helped bolster Brisbane's pack. Likely to push for a bench spot at first, the ex-Cowboy's ball-playing abilities will provide an extra element to their attack. He could work in tandem with Tevita Pangai jnr, a similarly skilful big man.

Others: Dale Copley (Titans), David Mead (Catalans)

Analysing the Broncos' 2021 draw

Canberra Raiders

Harry Rushton

The Raiders have lost a star English back-rower in John Bateman, but they've potentially picked up another one for the future. Still only 19 and eligible to play Jersey Flegg, Harry Rushton was recruited from Wigan (like Bateman) on a three-year deal and could eventually force his way into the NRL team once he finds his feet down under.

Others: Ryan James (Titans), Caleb Aekins (Panthers), Albert Hopoate (Sea Eagles)

Harry Rushton gets stuck into his pre-season work.
Harry Rushton gets stuck into his pre-season work. ©

Canterbury Bulldogs

Kyle Flanagan

Canterbury have recruited well for Trent Barrett's first season as coach - with Corey Allan and Nick Cotric being top-tier backline additions - but no signing is more important than halfback Kyle Flanagan. The 22-year-old is tasked with taking charge of a success-starved team which now has the cattle to move up the ladder. He's got something to prove after being moved on by the Roosters after just one season.

Others: Nick Cotric (Raiders), Corey Allan (Rabbitohs), Corey Waddell (Sea Eagles), Jack Hetherington (Panthers)

Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan.
Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan. ©

Cronulla Sharks

Aiden Tolman

There hasn't been much activity in the player market from the Sharks, with ex-Bulldogs and Storm veteran Aiden Tolman being their main addition. Coach John Morris has spoken of how the reliable prop's outstanding character, work ethic and big-game experience will benefit his young side as they aim to go further into the finals.

Others: Luke Metcalf (Sea Eagles)

Analysing the Sharks' 2021 draw

Gold Coast Titans

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

The acquisition of second-rower David Fifita was a monumental coup, but lock Tino Fa'asuamaleaui may be the Gold Coast's most valuable new face. Fresh off a premiership win with the Storm and making his Queensland debut, the 20-year-old has the job of replacing fellow Origin player Jai Arrow and leading a promising Titans pack.

Others: Herman Ese'ese (Knights), David Fifita (Broncos), Patrick Herbert (Warriors), Sam McIntyre (Tigers)

Star Titans recruit Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.
Star Titans recruit Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Manly Sea Eagles

Kieran Foran

After spells at the Eels, Warriors and Bulldogs, Foran is back home and hoping to put a luckless injury run behind him. The 30-year-old faces competition from Josh Schuster and Dylan Walker for the No.6 jersey, but has shown over the past two seasons that he's still a class act when fit. Captain Daly Cherry-Evans could be the biggest beneficiary of his 2011 premiership-winning teammate's return, having recently lacked a stable halves partner.

Others: Andrew Davey (Eels), Christian Tuipulotu (Roosters), Jason Saab (Dragons), Josh Aloiai (Wests Tigers)

Kieran Foran putting in the hard yards alongside Tom Tbrojevic.
Kieran Foran putting in the hard yards alongside Tom Tbrojevic. ©

Melbourne Storm

Reimis Smith

Not counting Harry Grant, who has returned from a loan at the Wests Tigers, as a new recruit, former Bulldogs flyer Reimis Smith looms as the premiers' key pick-up. The winger is among the front-runners to replace champion finisher Suliasi Vunivalu, and there's a feeling that master coach Craig Bellamy can extract his full potential.

Others: George Jennings (Eels)

Analysing the Storm's 2021 draw

Newcastle Knights

Tyson Frizell

Bringing a wealth of Origin and Test experience, the Knights are hoping Tyson Frizell can help boost them from fringe finalists to a genuine top-four team. Boasting leadership qualities and a dynamic power game, the long-time Dragons second-rower may be reinvigorated by a change in scenery.

Others: Bailey Hodgson (Castleford), Dominic Young (Huddersfield), Sauaso Sue (Bulldogs), Jack Johns (development deal - Rabbitohs)

Tyson Frizell in Knights pre-season training.
Tyson Frizell in Knights pre-season training. ©

New Zealand Warriors

Addin Fonua-Blake

Voted by his peers as the game's best prop last year, Addin Fonua-Blake will spearhead an imposing pack which includes fellow recruits Ben Murdoch-Masila and Kane Evans. The Warriors have declared they intend to utilise their size and play through the middle where the destructive Fonua-Blake can unleash his aggression.

Others: Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warrington), Kane Evans (Eels), Euan Aitken (Dragons), liesa Ratuva (rugby union), Sean O'Sullivan (Broncos), Marcelo Montoya (Bulldogs), Bayley Sironen (Rabbitohs)

Analysing the Warriors' 2021 draw

North Queensland Cowboys

Lachlan Burr

Coach Todd Payten was so impressed with Lachlan Burr's performances under him at the Warriors last year that he brought the combative forward along to Townsville. Not one to take a backward step, 28-year-old Burr will ease the strain on star middles Jason Taumalolo, Josh McGuire and Jordan McLean.

Others: Kane Bradley (Tigers)

Lachlan Burr brings depth to Todd Payten's pack.
Lachlan Burr brings depth to Todd Payten's pack. ©

Parramatta Eels

Tom Opacic

With Michael Jennings provisionally suspended, Tom Opacic has a chance to stake his claim at centre having joined the Eels on a one-year deal. If given the nod, the 26-year-old from Redcliffe will be determined to cement his place having only played five games for the Cowboys amid injury concerns in 2020.

Others: Keegan Hipgrave, Bryce Cartwright (Titans), Michael Oldfield (Raiders), Nathaniel Roache (Warriors - development squad), Isaiah Papali'i (Warriors), Joey Lussick (Salford)

Analysing the Eels' 2021 draw

Penrith Panthers

Matt Eisenhuth

James Tamou's departure to Wests Tigers left Penrith down a steady, hard-working prop - but Matt Eisenhuth perfectly fits that mould. Zane Tetevano has also exited the minor premiers for England, so Eisenhuth could come straight into the team.

Others: Robert Jennings (Wests Tigers), Jaeman Salmon (Eels), Scott Sorensen (Sharks)

Analysing the Panthers' 2021 draw

St George Illawarra Dragons

Jack Bird

It's easy to forget Jack Bird's immense talent given injuries restricted him to 17 games in three years for the Broncos. Turning 26 in March, with some much-deserved luck the versatile Bird's best days are yet to come - a scary thought considering he's already won a premiership and played for NSW. Back at his junior club, he is a true wildcard.

Others: Poasa Faamausili (Roosters), Daniel Alvaro (Eels)

Dragons recruit Jack Bird.
Dragons recruit Jack Bird. ©

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Jai Arrow

Establishing himself among the game's elite middle forwards over the past few years, Jai Arrow will provide more impetus to a developing Rabbitohs pack. Under the tutelage of his 2020 Maroons coach Wayne Bennett, the ex-Titan could be the final piece in the puzzle Souths need to revive the glory days of 2014.

Others: Jacob Host (Dragons), Josh Mansour (Panthers), Taane Milne (Warriors), Tautau Moga (Knights)

Analysing the Rabbitohs' 2021 draw

Sydney Roosters

Joseph Suaalii

He doesn't turn 18 until August and there's no guarantee that he'll break into a star-studded Roosters team after his birthday, but Joseph Suaalii has been earmarked as an incredibly special talent. The Tricolours snatched the precocious outside back from arch-rivals South Sydney while there was also significant interest from rugby union, which Suaalii played at school.

Others: Adam Keighran (Warriors)

Analysing the Roosters' 2021 draw

Wests Tigers

James Roberts

While James Tamou's leadership will be integral for the Tigers, a happy and healthy James Roberts brings an X-factor that makes him so dangerous. Possessing blinding speed and try-scoring nous, the centre is among the best in his position on his day.

Others: Stefano Utoikamanu (Eels), James Tamou (Panthers), Joe Ofahengaue (Broncos), Tuki Simpkins (Cowboys)

New Tiger James Roberts.
New Tiger James Roberts. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos
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