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Renouf: The best-value NRL recruits for 2018

The best signings NRL clubs make are of players that take their teams to another level either now or into the future.

They are the players that clubs can build teams around and who take premiership contenders to title winners and under-performers to the bright lights of the finals.

They are the players that build the right culture and have an ethos and work ethic that inspires others to follow.

That’s why I have listed my top four signings for the 2018 Telstra Premiership as Cooper Cronk, Blake Green, Kalyn Ponga and Jai Arrow.

When Roosters chairman Nick Politis brought Sonny Bill Williams to the club in 2013 he was the catalyst for a premiership win in his first season. You listen to Roosters players now and they still talk about the legacy SBW left at the club even though he only had two seasons there.

That is the kind of footballer and man Cronk is, and will be, for the Roosters.

Cronk has been steady as she goes for most of the year but now we are coming into the business end he is running that team as only he can.

Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk.
Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

He had to fit into the way the Roosters play after all those years at the Storm and that can be more challenging for a half than a forward. That combination he has forged with his forwards and his outside men is working well now.

Who else would you want at half in a finals series?

He’s so precise with everything he does and in close games his kicking game near the line is going to be so vital.

The Roosters and Cronk always seemed like the right fit to me and they signed him to win a premiership. They have timed their run to perfection and are every chance of winning it this year.

The Warriors got their man when they signed Blake Green. He has unlocked the best in Shaun Johnson by taking the pressure off him so he can do his own thing.

I know Johnson has a bit more flair but the Warriors are a team that needed a guy like Green because of the way they play their footy. He is more of a settling influence and a key part of the puzzle that they have lacked. I love the way he has played his footy this year and led the team around.

The Warriors have improved in a lot of areas but Green is a key reason why they are back on track to play finals footy and that is an arena where I think you’ll see him really shine.

Warriors five-eighth Blake Green.
Warriors five-eighth Blake Green. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

I see Jai Arrow as a future captain of the Gold Coast. He will be a regular representative forward for Queensland, and eventually Australia, for years to come and the Titans can build a successful team and pack around him.

Arrow has added spark and enthusiasm to their forwards and the tough brand of footy he plays is just what you want your pack to be all about.

I know Kevin Walters stood up and took notice of him when he stepped up in the front row and took on the Warriors forwards in round two. He was playing with busted ribs but you wouldn’t have known by watching him. He hasn’t looked back.

Titans forward Jai Arrow.
Titans forward Jai Arrow. ©NRL Photos

It has been a meteoric rise. Last year at the Broncos he wasn't getting much of a go because of the players ahead of him but at the Titans he has a new lease of life and found himself in an Origin jersey.

It didn’t matter where Kalyn Ponga went this year he was always going to light up the NRL. He is just a natural footy player with flair and speed to burn.

I’ve loved his attitude since he’s gone to Newcastle despite them dropping off after a good start.

Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga.
Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga. ©Simon Watts/NRL Photos

He was close to man of the match in his debut Origin game for Queensland after he'd shown his class for Newcastle right from the start of the season.

Ponga is the most promising player in the game and he is so exciting just because of how young he is. He's the kind of player that the Knights can use as a drawcard to get some more guns to the club.

From a fan point of view he is the sort of footballer that gets you along to the game. I am sure he will keep the turnstiles ticking over at Newcastle so long as he plays there.

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