Top 10 unknown quantities for 2017
Whether they're new to the NRL, returning to the competition or hopeful of ending wretched injury runs, the following players remain the biggest unknown quantities ahead of the 2017 Telstra Premiership season.
10. Mose Masoe (Dragons)
St George Illawarra Dragons beat out several other clubs for Masoe's signature before last year. After two seasons spent at English glamour club St Helens – where he won a premiership under now Newcastle coach Nathan Brown – Masoe returned to Australia in hope of reigniting his NRL career. On the eve of this year's Auckland Nines however Masoe suffered a devastating ACL injury. Further complications to the same knee have thrown his pre-season into disarray in another blow to his anticipated return.
9. Dan Sarginson (Titans)
Thin backline stocks means the Titans could be relying on England international Dan Sarginson to make a big impact next year. Following the departures of Nene MacDonald, David Mead and Josh Hoffman, Sarginson is set to be thrown straight into the mix against the Roosters in Round 1. The Australian-born England international arrives in the Gold Coast with 125 games in England's Super League under his belt. However Sarginson was restricted to just one Test in the recent Four Nations, with Wayne Bennett opting for a centre pairing of Kallum Watkins and Mark Percival instead.
8. Shaun Nona (Dragons)
If you asked Brisbane Broncos assistant coach Jason Demetriou a couple of months ago who was the best playmaker without an NRL contract, he'd tell you Nona was it. After helping Demetriou's Illawarra Cutters to State Championship glory in October, Nona was rewarded with a one-year NRL contract at the Dragons. Following Drew Hutchison's recent ACL injury, the stage is potentially set for Nona to make his first-grade debut.
7. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)
On his day Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is one of the most lethal fullbacks in the NRL. It was something he'd hoped to continue at the Warriors last year following his shock departure from the Roosters, but an ACL injury put a stop to that with Tuivasa-Sheck restricted to just seven games in his debut season at the Warriors. Time will tell how his recovery has impacted his speed, agility and explosiveness.
6. Jarryd Hayne (Titans)
Hayne's decision to sign with the Gold Coast late last season sent shockwaves throughout the entire game. After fleeting careers in the NFL and rugby sevens, Hayne featured in the final six games of the Titans' season. Unfortunately Hayne saved his worst performance for the Titans' qualifying final against Brisbane. While it wasn't ideal at the time, it may provide essential motivation for the season ahead.
5. Kane Elgey (Titans)
Elgey has 16 NRL games to his name but it would've been more if not for a brutal ACL injury suffered in January. While he missed the entire season, the Titans were able to find plenty of positives in new halves duo Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor. Taylor was in fact named the Dally M Rookie of the Year and will partner Johnathan Thurston in the Indigenous All Stars team next February. Time will tell how Elgey fits into coach Neil Henry's squad considering the Titans made the finals in 2016 for the first time in six years.
4. Billy Slater (Storm)
The Storm, Maroons and Australian legend has had an unhappy past two seasons. Restricted to just eight games since 2015 due to a chronic shoulder, Slater's hopeful return could prove to be the final roll of the dice on his storied career. Slater only managed to play in the Storm's Round 1 win over the Dragons last season and has plenty of work to do if he is to reclaim his representative jumpers from incumbent custodian Darius Boyd.
3. Jamal Idris (Wests Tigers)
The well-travelled Idris's return to the NRL in 2017 is a scary prospect. Regardless of where he plays at the Wests Tigers, the 26-year-old appears hell-bent on finally living up to his potential. Idris played just six games in his final season at the Panthers two years ago. An ACL injury proved the impetus for Idris to seek a release from the foot of the mountains so he could go and explore the world. How will he fare as a Tiger next season?
2. Kieran Foran (Warriors)
Well-publicised off-field dramas may have derailed Foran's big-money deal at the Eels but in the Warriors he may find a safe haven. Offered the chance to play alongside plenty of his New Zealand international teammates, Foran is hopeful of thriving away from the Sydney limelight. On the field, his signing could be a massive coup for the Warriors – a spine of Foran, Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke is a scary prospect for the 15 other clubs.
1. Dave Taylor (Raiders)
We should preface this by saying Dave Taylor is no guarantee of playing in the NRL next year. Signed by the Canberra Raiders on a train-and-trial contract, the former Queensland and Australian enforcer has plenty of hoops to jump through before he confirms his place in Ricky Stuart's squad. Taylor spent the past 12 months in the south of France but was released following the Catalans' poor end to the Super League season. If he can get back to his best he could be the final piece of the puzzle for an already strong Canberra side.