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Tonga stars Konrad Hurrell and Jason Taumalolo.

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Up to 140 players contracted to NRL clubs for next season were involved in the World Cup and for most of them, the tournament was an experience that will only prove beneficial.

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson (knee) and New Zealand Warriors centre Gerard Beale (broken leg) suffered major injuries that will sideline them next season but there were few other serious casualties.

For some players, such as Wests Tigers utility Kevin Naiqama and Sydney Roosters back-rower Sio Siua Taukieaho, the World Cup was an opportunity to take on leadership roles and they will be better players next season for the responsibility.

The tournament also proved a coming of age at international level for the likes of Cronulla Sharks speedster Valentine Holmes, Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Warriors halfback Ata Hingano, while rookies such as South Sydney Rabbitohs playmaker Adam Doueihi and Canterbury Bulldogs second-rower Rhyse Martin were unearthed.

Here's how the World Cup affected each of the 16 NRL teams.

Brisbane Broncos (six players)

Matt Gillett (Australia), Josh McGuire (Australia), David Mead (Papua New Guinea), Kodi Nikorima (New Zealand), Joe Ofahengaue (Tonga), Tevita Pangai jnr (Tonga).

The impact of the World Cup on the Broncos was limited by the withdrawal of Kangaroos back Darius Boyd (hamstring) and Fiji forward Korbin Sims (broken arm) on the eve of the tournament, while star five-eighth Anthony Milford (shoulder) was ruled out of the Samoa team. Tonga forwards Tevita Pangai jnr and Joe Ofahengau will benefit from the experience with the Mate Ma'a, while Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire were outstanding for the Kangaroos.

Canberra Raiders (10)

Kurt Baptiste (PNG), Siliva Havili (Tonga), Josh Hodgson (England), Joseph Leilua (Samoa), Elliott Whitehead (England), Junior Paulo (Samoa), Josh Papalii (Samoa), Jordan Rapana (New Zealand), Mikaele Ravalawa (Fiji), Joseph Tapine (New Zealand).

The Raiders are the club most adversely effected after losing hooker Josh Hodgson with a ruptured ACL in England's semi-final triumph over Tonga. With Hodgson sidelined for the 2018 season, the Raiders have signed hooker Siliva Havili, who performed strongly for Tonga. Joe Tapine also suffered a knee injury in the Kiwis loss to Tonga a week earlier but will be fit for the start of next season.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (10)

Fa'amanu Brown (Samoa), Rod Griffin (PNG), Will Hopoate (Tonga), David Klemmer (Australia), Michael Lichaa (Lebanon), Rhyse Martin (PNG), Marcelo Montoya (Fiji), Ray Moujalli (Lebanon), Joel Tramontana (Italy), Aaron Woods (Australia).

Aaron Woods and David Klemmer are almost inseparable in camp with NSW or Australia, and it will be the same when they are at the Bulldogs. After indifferent form last season, the pair returned to their best during the World Cup, which will delight new Bulldogs coach Dean Pay. Kumuls second-rower Rhyse Martin confirmed during the World Cup he was worthy of a shot at the NRL.

Cronulla Sharks (7)

Josh Dugan (Australia), Andrew Fifita (Tonga), Wade Graham (Australia), Valentine Holmes
(Australia), Ricky Leutele (Samoa), Joseph Paulo (Samoa), James Segeyaro (PNG).

Valentine Holmes has established himself as one of the superstars of the game after setting new World Cup records for the most tries in a match (six) and tournament (12), and will start the 2018 season full of confidence. Josh Dugan demonstrated why he is considered one of the top centres with his try-saving ankle tap in the final, while Wade Graham now looks comfortable in an Australian jersey.

Gold Coast Titans (1)

Konrad Hurrell (Tonga)

The least-affected club after the departures of Fiji World Cup pair Jarryd Hayne to Parramatta and Ben Nakubuwai to Salford. Tonga centre Konrad Hurrell is the only Titans player returning late to pre-season training from his World Cup duties.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (9)

Apisai Koroisau (Fiji), Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand), Bilal Maarbani (Lebanon), Martin Taupau (New Zealand), Jake Trbojevic (Australia), Tom Trbojevic (Australia), Akuila Uate (Fiji), Frank Winterstein (Samoa), Matthew Wright (Samoa).

Kangaroos forward Jake Trbojevic has his arm out of the sling after a pectoral muscle tear in the opening World Cup clash England and is on track to play in the round one match against Newcastle on March 9. The World Cup gave Tom Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake invaluable big-match experience, while Apisai Koroisau and Akuila Uate took on leadership roles with Fiji.

Melbourne Storm (11)

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (New Zealand), Kenneath Bromwich (New Zealand), Will Chambers (Australia), Felise Kaufusi (Australia), Tui Kamikamica (Fiji), Cameron Munster (Australia), Billy Slater (Australia), Cameron Smith (Australia), Justin Olam (PNG), Young Tonumaipea (Samoa), Suliasi Vunivalu (Fiji).

Cameron Munster is better equipped to take on the greater responsibility he will be needed to assume in Cooper Cronk's absence after starring in his two World Cup games for the Kangaroos. Towering prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona appears set to continue his rise after establishing himself as a regular member of the Kiwis line-up by playing all four of their World Cup matches.

New Zealand and Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Levi.
New Zealand and Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Levi. © Dave Lintott/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Newcastle Knights (5)

Herman Ese'ese (Samoa), Chris Heighington (England), Jack Johns (Italy), Danny Levi (New Zealand), Jacob Saifiti (Fiji).

Hooker Danny Levi is expected to become a more prominent player for the Knights after playing all four World Cup games for New Zealand. Unfortunately, 20-year-old halfback Jack Johns underwent surgery after breaking his arm in Italy's opening loss to Ireland and isn't due back in full training until the new year. 

North Queensland Cowboys (4)

Jordan McLean (Australia), Michael Morgan (Australia), Te Maire Martin (New Zealand), Jason Taumalolo (Tonga).

Jason Taumalolo proved himself to not only be the best forward in the game but a genuine leader after his role in Tonga's stunning World Cup performance, while Jordan McLean has become a Test forward and World Cup winner since the Cowboys signed him. Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin also enjoyed successful World Cup campaigns.

Parramatta Eels (13)

Daniel Alvaro (Italy), Nathan Brown (Italy), Kane Evans (Fiji), Salesi Faingaa (Fiji), Jarryd Hayne (Fiji), Michael Jennings (Tonga), Anthony Layoun (Lebanon), Tim Mannah (Lebanon), Suaia Matagi (Samoa), Manu Ma'u (Tonga), Mitchell Moses (Lebanon), Brad Taikarangi (New Zealand), Peni Terepo (Tonga).

Mitchell Moses stamped himself as a future NSW Origin star by leading Lebanon to an historic win over France and a narrow defeat to Tonga, while Tim Mannah and Michael Jennings wound the clock back to their glory days with the Blues. Kane Evans broke his wrist scoring a try in the opening round of the tournament but should be available for the Blue & Gold's first premiership match against Penrith on March 11.

Penrith Panthers (11)

Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Australia), Mason Cerruto (Italy), Jarome Luai (Samoa), Sione Katoa (Tonga), Viliame Kikau (Fiji), James Maloney (Australia), Josh Mansour (Australia), Lachlan Stein (Scotland), Jayden Walker (Italy), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (New Zealand), Dean Whare (New Zealand).

The World Cup has done wonders for the depth of Penrith's squad, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard now a Kangaroos Test prop and the likes of Sione Katoa, Viliame Kikau, Jarome Luai, Lachlan Stein and Mason Cerruto having gained a lot of experience. Josh Mansour got a boost after regaining his place in the Australian squad 12 months after suffering an ACL injury.

England and Dragons star Gareth Widdop.
England and Dragons star Gareth Widdop. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

 St George Illawarra Dragons (10)

Leeson Ah Mau (Samoa), Tyson Frizell (Australia), Ben Hunt (Australia), James Graham (England), Tim Lafai (Samoa), Joe Lovadua (Fiji), Nene MacDonald (PNG), Jason Nightingale (New Zealand), Paul Vaughan (Italy), Gareth Widdop (England).

Gareth Widdop's confidence should be at an all-time high as he was arguably the player of the World Cup after switching from five-eighth to fullback for England and topping the tournament leader board for try assists with eight. James Graham also came out of the World Cup with his reputation as a leader enhanced, while Ben Hunt will benefit from his time in the Australian camp, along with Tyson Frizell,

South Sydney Rabbitohs (7)

Dane Gagai (Australia), Sam Burgess (England), Thomas Burgess (England), Adam Doueihi (Lebanon), Robbie Farah (Lebanon), Sitiveni Moceidreke (Fiji), Zane Musgrove (Samoa).

Adam Doueihi is yet to play an NRL match but after four impressive performances for Lebanon at the World Cup, he has become another option for new Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold to consider in his backline. Sam and Tom Burgess were back to their best for England, while new signing Dane Gagai did not put a foot wrong on the wing for Australia.

Sydney Roosters (11)

Jarred Anderson (Scotland), Boyd Cordner (Australia), Cooper Cronk (Australia), Lachlan Lam (PNG), Isaac Liu (New Zealand), Brendan Santi (Italy), Sio Siua Taukieaho (Tonga), James Tedesco (Italy), Daniel Tupou (Tonga), Eloni Vunakece (Fiji), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (New Zealand).

Cooper Cronk's announcement after the World Cup final that he was retiring from representative football is a boost for the Roosters as they won't face disruptions from his absence during State of Origin. However, what should please Roosters fans most was the performances of Sio Siua Taukieaho and Isaac Liu, who were key forwards for Tonga and New Zealand respectively. Rookies Lachlan Lam and Jarred Anderson also showed their potential.

NRL Fantasy 2018

Warriors (14)

Bunty Afoa (Samoa), Gerard Beale (New Zealand), James Bell (Scotland), Adam Blair (New Zealand), David Fusitu'a (Tonga), Peta Hiku (New Zealand), Ata Hingano (Tonga), Shaun Johnson (New Zealand), Solomone Kata (Tonga), Sam Lisone (Samoa), Simon Mannering (New Zealand), Ken Maumalo (Samoa), Jazz Tevaga (Samoa), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand).

Rookie halfback Ata Hingano will be brimming with confidence after being entrusted with helping to steer Tonga around and handling the task without problem. David Fusitu'a also proved himself as a big-game player on the wing for Tonga, scoring a hat-trick of second-half tries in their comeback win over the Kiwis. The Warriors have the biggest representation of World Cup players after signing Adam Blair, Gerard Beale and Peta Hiku. However, Beale broke his leg in two places in the opening game against Samoa and is expected to miss the start of next season.

Wests Tigers (11)

Mahe Fonua (Tonga), Pita Godinet (Samoa), Andrew Kazzi (Lebanon), Tuimoala Lolohea (Tonga), Nathan Milone (Italy), Taane Milne (Fiji), Kevin Naiqama (Fiji), Russell Packer (New Zealand), Jaleel Seve-Derbas (Lebanon), Elijah Taylor (New Zealand), Alex Twal (Lebanon).

Fans barely batted an eyelid when the club announced the signing of Taane Milne but the Fiji centre was a standout at the World Cup, finishing with seven try assists, while Bati skipper Kevin Naiqama was an inspiration at fullback. With Tuimoala Lolohea steering Tonga around and Mahe Fonua playing in the centres during the historic defeat of New Zealand, the World Cup has given coach Ivan Cleary greater depth than he probably realised.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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