The key player to your NRL side’s chances


* Brisbane – Anthony Milford was stellar in his first year in the Brisbane No.6 jersey, almost winning the Clive Churchill medal in a losing grand final side. Even bigger things will be expected of him next year with the Broncos desperate for success after finishing runners up

* Canterbury – Moses Mbye has shouldered pressure with poise during his first two seasons in first grade but will be saddled with being the side’s key playmaker next year following Trent Hodkinson’s departure

* Canberra – Could Aidan Sezer be the missing piece for the Green Machine? They spluttered along without a true ball player in their halves last year but the former Gold Coast No.6 could solve that conundrum

Cronulla – Jack Bird is expected to be shifted to fullback with the arrival of halves Chad Townsend and James Maloney. How he handles the key position will be key with the Sharks’ premiership window wide open

* Gold Coast – The Titans need something and young halfback Kane Elgey is one of the few rays of hope at the embattled club. Having lost their strike weapon (James Roberts, due to the forgery scandal) Elgey will be tasked with igniting an attack devoid of spark

* Manly – The Sea Eagles have recruited astutely to beef up their forward pack and Nate Myles shapes as their key acquisition. A Test and Origin player, he will be seen as the elder statesman of the Manly pack and expected to lead from the front as they look to return to the top eight

* Melbourne – After missing the second half of 2015 with a shoulder injury, it remains to be seen if Billy Slater, 32, can rediscover his best. However the decline of “the big three” is something we’ve been hearing about for a few years now

* Newcastle – Trent Hodkinson is arguably the most important Newcastle recruit in a decade. The Knights have not had a star No.7 since Andrew Johns’ retirement and the club’s bosses want to build a side around him

* North Queensland – It’s a bit of a no-brainer that Johnathan Thurston holds the key to the Cowboys’ fate. He won just about every individual and team award on offer in 2015 and will need to be at his best again if he’s to inspire them to rare back-to-back premierships

* Parramatta – Parramatta fans demand big things from whoever wears the No.1 jersey and Michael Gordon will have high standards placed on him. One of the best support players in the game, he has had a quiet couple of seasons

* Penrith – After an inconsistent season, James Segeyaro will be expected to get back to his best. With the changes to the interchange rule, his ability to play for 80 minutes will be key to the Panthers’ chances of bouncing back into the top eight after a dismal, injury-ravaged season

* South Sydney – Slammin’ Sam Burgess is back and his arrival is expected to return the Rabbitohs to premiership contention. The Bunnies’ pack lacked venom without him this year and he’ll certainly add starch to their line-up

* St George Illawarra – Criticised for not scoring enough points (435 – the second least of any side), the Dragons are desperate for some attacking spark and Josh Dugan could be the man to inspire it. Coach Paul McGregor is toying with moving the NSW No.1 back to the centres

* Sydney Roosters – Whoever wears the Roosters’ No.1 jersey will have some big shoes to fill, following Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s move across the ditch, and Blake Ferguson looks likely to move to the back. Ferguson is blessed with size, strength and speed but the question remains how he will fare in the key position

* Wests Tigers – The Tigers have lost two of their three front-rowers (Martin Taupau and Keith Galloway) meaning Aaron Woods is going to have to take on a mountain of work. Lacking recognised props in their squad means Woods, who is expected to take over as captain, will regularly have to play for 80 minutes

* Warriors – When Shaun Johnston was rubbed out for the last two months of the 2015 season, the Warriors put the cue in the rack and went on an eight-game losing streak. While big things are expected of prize recruits Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke, there’s a simple message – if Johnson fires, so do the Warriors

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!