What your team needs in 2017: Part 4
With most NRL clubs looking ahead to next season we look at where your team could improve heading into the 2017 Telstra Premiership campaign.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Key 2016 stats: Attack 2nd, Run Metres 1st, Offloads 16th, Ball Control 3rd
What they've got: A star-studded team that was not quite good enough to end the NRL premiers' curse, bowing out in the preliminary finals at the hands of eventual premiers Cronulla. Their sensational forward pack has taken a hit with James Tamou leaving for Penrith, but the rest of their stars remain at the club for 2017.
What they need: To remember how to win away from home. The Cowboys won only four of 12 away games during the regular season and both of their finals matches away from Townsville, and winning on the road was a crucial part of their premiership-winning 2015 campaign. Roster-wise, their focus will remain on keeping the bulk of their team together rather than bringing in new talent.
What they're getting: No signings at this stage, although there are rumours talented young utility Ben Hampton will be on his way to Townsville from the Storm.
Key 2016 stats: Attack 3rd, Offloads 2nd, Tackle Breaks 3rd, Run Metres 3rd, Completion Rate 14th
What they've got: A premiership-winning team for the first time in the club's history. James Maloney was the best signing of 2016 and halves partner Chad Townsend wasn't far behind. Paul Gallen will hang around for another year to lead a forward pack boasting future leader Wade Graham and grand final stars Andrew Fifita, Matt Prior and Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Lewis, while Ben Barba and young guns Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes headline a very talented backline.
What they need: This time last year we said the Sharks just needed to improve their attack and the recruitment of Maloney and Townsend did just that, and they now look the complete package. The retirement of Michael Ennis does leave them a hooker short though.
What they're getting: Manaia Cherrington arrives from the Wests Tigers and will be out to fill Ennis's hooker role, but there could be more signings to come.
Key 2016 stats: Attack 1st, Line Breaks 1st, Ball Control 5th, Tackle Breaks 1st
What they've got: The best attacking line-up in the competition, and a team that went from bottom-eight side to premiership contenders in the space of a season. With probably the most balanced roster in the NRL the Raiders aren't as dependent on a few star players as other clubs and have significant depth in key positions.
What they need: Not much. They've already started planning for the future with Joseph Tapine and fellow young gun Luke Bateman impressing this season while their key players will hang around for another season at least.
What they're getting: After the success of Super League recruits Sia Soliola and Josh Hodgson the Raiders have turned to England again to pick up versatile St Helens star Jordan Turner, who can play at centre, five-eighth and in the back row.
Key 2016 stats: Attack 4th, Run Metres 2nd, Line Breaks 3rd, Ball Control 1st, Completion Rate 1st
What they've got: The NRL's most consistent outfit, who came within two points of a grand final win after winning the minor premiership without the services of injured superstar Billy Slater. Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk remain as effective as ever (despite Cronk's quiet grand final performance) while Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris and rising star Cameron Munster were all superb in 2016.
What they need: A new five-eighth after the exit of the underrated Blake Green, and a replacement for the rugby-bound Marika Koroibete on the wing. Green is a big loss after taking some of the pressure off Cronk this season with 10 try assists.
What they're getting: Josh Addo-Carr is a gifted speedster who should shine in Koroibete's old role, while the hunt for a new five-eighth continues.