Another season brings a new crop of big-name recruits across the Telstra Premiership, but which one will be the best signing of them all?
From blockbuster forwards to crafty playmakers and try-scoring weapons out wide, there are plenty of big names on the move this year.
After NRL.com selected 10 of the best players switching clubs this season, footy fans have had their say and voted 2020 Wests Tigers sensation Harry Grant as the best player switching clubs this year.
Grant returns to Melbourne after his year-long loan deal with the Tigers and received 23% of the vote, edging out new Titans stars Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (18%) and David Fifita (13%) as well as former Manly enforcer and new Warriors signing Addin Fonua-Blake (15%).
Best new recruits of 2021
(in alphabetical order)
Much has been made of the Titans luring Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and David Fifita to the Gold Coast for 2021, but the loss of Jai Arrow to the Rabbitohs is undoubtedly a blow. Arrow should quickly becoming the forward leader at South Sydney, something the Rabbitohs have lacked since the retirement of Sam Burgess. A proven performer at State of Origin level, Arrow will be hoping a strong season with South Sydney can secure him his first Test jersey.
Arrow barges over under the posts
After a wretched run with injury, the 2016 premiership winner is ready to put his career back on track under Anthony Griffin. Still only 25, Bird has plenty of good years ahead of him provided he gets an even break with injuries. A strong runner of the ball and an aggressive defender, Bird's versatility means he can play centre or back row in the new-look Dragons line-up. It seems like an eternity since Bird played a key role at centre in Cronulla's grand final victory over Melbourne and chalked up five Origin games in 2016-17 but if he can discover that form again he can help catapult the Dragons back into the finals.
Jack Bird's 'special feeling' about Dragons return
New Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett will be relying on the former Blues Origin winger to have a big impact in a new-look backline spearheaded by another star recruit in Kyle Flanagan. Cotric proved himself one of the game's elite finishers in his four seasons at Canberra, crossing 46 times in 93 games, but he looks likely to find himself closer to the action in the centres at Belmore. The 22-year-old tips the scales at 98kg and will prove a huge handful for rival centres if given any room to move.
All of Nick Cotric's 2020 tries
The Titans have got themselves a good one here. Signed prior to the 2020 season, Fa'asuamaleaui arrived as a genuine force in 2020 with stellar displays for both the Storm and Queensland. After becoming a relied upon member of Melbourne's premiership-winning side, big Tino took his game to another level while helping the Maroons score a shock win in the State of Origin series. Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook would have watched Fa'asuamaleaui's development in 2020 with a smile on his face. Having fellow newcomer David Fifita, Moeaki Fotuaika and Kevin Proctor in the same pack should result in a fearsome forward unit for the Titans in 2021.
The best of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui's breakout 2020 season
That the Titans were able to beat the once-mighty Broncos to secure Fifita's signature said a lot. The Titans – a club on the rise – have been able to add both Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui to a pack that will also have both Moeaki Fotuaika and Kevin Proctor. Fifita only played nine matches in 2020, but scored four tries and averaged 128 running metres per contest. If Holbrook can get the best out of the 20-year-old, expect big things on the Gold Coast over the coming nine months.
David Fifita storms through the Roosters
The Warriors aren't going to be lacking for big bodies in 2021. Among a group of forwards that also added Ben Murdoch-Masila and Kane Evans, the signing of Fonua-Blake is arguably the trump card. A punishing runner with ball in hand, Fonua-Blake is more often than not the best prop on the field. If he is able to consistently win the middle of the field, the likes of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita can work some magic in attack. Now for new coach Nathan Brown to make it all work.
Fonua-Blake leaves the Wests Tigers in his wake
Foran still has the skills – and knowledge – to be an influential character in the NRL. He just needs to get his body right and be available to play for a full season. The fact he has played just 66 games in the last five years doesn't augur well. Five years after leaving the Sea Eagles for stints at Parramatta, the Warriors and Canterbury, Foran is again working with Des Hasler at Manly. Sea Eagles fans will be hoping he can wind back the clock and return to his best.
Foran: 'Surreal' being back in Sea Eagles nest
A sensational signing for the Knights as they look to convert a solid 2020 season into a spectacular 2021 campaign under the astute Adam O'Brien. The 29-year-old brings 177 NRL games of experience to the Hunter as well as 14 Tests for Australia and 14 Origins for NSW. He averaged 126 metres and 37 tackles per game in 2020 as he tried to inspire an under-performing Dragons side and he'll relish the opportunity to join forces with David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Lachlan Fitzgibbon in a powerful Newcastle pack.
Frizell 'starting again' with Knights
Technically he is just returning to the Storm after a year's loan to Wests Tigers, but Grant is essentially a new player eager to prove his worth on a team that won the 2020 premiership. With the playing future of Cameron Smith still up in the air, Grant won't know what to expect this year. If Smith isn't playing for Melbourne, Grant and Brandon Smith will battle for the No.9 jersey. If the future Immortal plays on for coach Craig Bellamy, Grant's place on the pecking order will change. Either way, the Storm will be grateful to have him back in purple.
Harry Grant on a 'surreal' Maroons debut
He doesn't boast the match-winning ability of some of the others on this list. But that doesn't mean Tamou won't prove a great addition to the Wests Tigers playing group. As well as being a great operator in the middle third of the field, the respect in which Tamou is held by his fellow players can only help coach Michael Maguire and his players. If the Tigers are able to finally get over the hump and return to the finals, expect Tamou to be in the thick of the action.
Tamou gets his first try of the season