The signing announcements continue to trickle in as clubs jostle to ensure they have the strongest playing groups assembled for 2022 and beyond. The NRL's newest club will join the competition in 2023 and it's been a case of slow and steady on the recruiting front for Wayne Bennett's Dolphins.
Here's what we've seen so far, with a quick look at some of the better buys and retentions.
Jesse Bromwich - Storm to Dolphins 2023
Wayne Bennett's side has added a proven leader here, with 29 Tests for New Zealand and 272 games for the Melbourne Storm to his name. He's been a key cog in the successful Melbourne machine for the past decade, and is one of the best props in rugby league.
The only hitch? He'll turn 34 during the 2023 season.
Bromwich joins teammate Felise Kaufusi as one of the Dolphins' early recruits, and while the NRL's newest club is slowly putting the pieces together for an inaugural squad they do still need to make a lot of signings in the next 12 months.
Jamayne Isaako - Broncos to Dolphins 2023
The Dolphins still have a lot of roster spots to fill ahead of their first season in the NRL but they ticked a few boxes by recruiting 25-year-old New Zealand and Samoa international Isaako, who will leave Brisbane at the end of the 2022 season. Isaako can play at fullback or on the wing and kicked goals at a tick under 80% last season. He may not quite be the superstar signing that the newest NRL club is still hoping to land but Isaako already looks like being a crucial one.
Nick Cotric - Bulldogs to Raiders 2022
The worst kept secret of the off-season has been confirmed with the Bulldogs releasing Cotric from the final two years of his contract. The outside back will return to Canberra where he has signed a three-year deal. He played just the 14 games with the Bulldogs in his first year at Belmore, with mixed reviews. The Bulldogs, who have an abundance of backline talent, jumped at the opportunity to free up some salary cap space.
Brandon Smith - Storm to Roosters - 2023
One of the most sought after players coming off contract has been snapped up, unsurprisingly, by the Roosters. Smith ruffled a few feathers with some of the statements he made when announcing his decision, so his final year at the Storm will be interesting. There is no doubt the Roosters will ensure he curtails his off-field adventures and knuckles down to produce the brilliance everyone knows he is capable of on the field.
Josh Hodgson - Raiders to Eels 2023
Following a seemingly obvious falling out with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, rumours were rife that England rake Hodgson would be on the move as soon as possible. The Eels having lost young No.9 Reed Mahony to the Bulldogs from 2023, were in the market, first signing Mitch Rein from the Titans before chasing Hodgson. Hodgson will join the Eels after one final season with the Raiders. All concerned will be hoping his bad luck with knee injuries is behind him, as at his best he will be a real asset to Parramatta.
Bailey Simonsson - Raiders to Eels 2022
The Eels' shopping trip to Canberra didn't stop at Hodgson, they also managed to pick up young outside back Simonsson, effective immediately. Simonsson will fill the void left by the departure of Blake Ferguson, a similarly hard-running, large-framed winger to be tasked with making the hard metres out of Eels' territory.
Api Koroisau - Panthers to Tigers 2023
The Panthers' premiership hooker has signed a three-year deal with Wests Tigers starting in 2023. Having had a taste of Harry Grant magic two years ago, the Tigers have struggled to find a quality dummy-half since, with Koroisau an obvious target. He joins the Tigers along with boom second-row forward Isaiah Papali'i as Tim Sheens continues to build a competitive roster for embattled coach Michael Maguire.
Ray Stone - Eels - Dolphins 2023
Another forward departs the Eels in 2023, becoming the second piece of Wayne Bennett's maiden Dolphins pack. The 24-year-old utility forward, who has played 28 NRL games for Eels, will be a key player for the Dolphins, capable of filling in at hooker as well as providing a rock-solid defensive piece on the edge of the ruck. Bennett was very keen to snap Stone up, and he's a fair judge of talent.
Kevin Naiqama - St Helens to Roosters
The speedy winger returns from three seasons in Super League to help bolster the backline of the Roosters. The vastly experienced outside back will be help the Roosters maintain their competitive edge in 2022 and beyond.
Villiame Kikau - Panthers to Bulldogs 2023
In a massive coup for the Bulldogs, the Panthers' destructive edge running back-rower will head to Belmore in 2023. They may have botched the signing announcement, with photos of Kikau in a Bulldogs shirt leaked, but Phil Gould will enjoy his Christmas after playing a big part in this move. The question remains whether Kikau will be as effective in 2023, with his game arguably in decline during the Panthers' premiership winning 2021 season. A new club may well spark the big unit back to his rampaging best.
Felise Kaufusi - Storm to Dolphins 2023
The NRL's newest team finally announced its first big signing, although with all due respect to Kaufusi, his name might not necessarily draw the oohs and aahs from the fans. Kaufusi has been a key part of Melbourne Storm and Queensland success in recent years, and at his best possesses a cutting running game and solid defence. It seems as though he has been around forever, but he is only 29 and could prove to be an excellent base upon which to build the Dolphins pack.
Isaiah Papali'i - Eels to Tigers 2023
Wests Tigers have pinched Parramatta backrower Isaiah Papali'i on a three-year deal starting in 2023. The 2021 Dally M second-rower of the year turned down the best the Eels could afford to offer him and will add a much-needed strike weapon to the Tigers pack. Will coach Michael Maguire survive long enough to take advantage of this signing?
Luciano Leilua - Tigers to Cowboys 2023
Leilua and his manager were after more money than the Wests Tigers were willing to pay. Thanks to the signing of Papali'i the Tigers were able to stick firm on their offer, leaving Leilua to look elsewhere. It marks what many Tigers fans will hope is a turning point in the joint-venture's roster dealings. With Tim Sheens back at the helm, the club will be keen to put a recent history of overpaying underperforming players behind them.
Reed Mahoney - Eels to Bulldogs 2023
Another signing coup by the Bulldogs sees the Eels rake join the revamped 2021 wooden-spooners in 2023. The biggest criticism of the Bulldogs rebuild so far has been their neglect of the key spine positions, with gaping talent holes in the No.9 and No.7 jerseys. This signing goes part of the way towards rectifying that issue. Maloney was let go as a junior by the Bulldogs, who welcome him back after watching him blossom at Parramatta. He does have a worrying shoulder injury history to overcome.
Stefano Utoikamanu - Wests Tigers
The Wests Tigers have locked in promising young gun Stefano Utoikamanu through to the end of the 2025 season, with the 21-year-old prop extending his stay at the club for two more years. Utoikamanu made a bright start to his Tigers career in 2021 after signing from Parramatta, scoring six tries in 21 games.
Addin Fonua-Blake - Warriors
The hulking enforcer who made the switch from Manly last year was already committed to the Warriors through to the end of 2023, but has extended his stay through to the 2026 season. Fonua-Blake opted to commit to the New Zealand club long-term rather than wait and field potential offers from rival clubs from November 1.
Junior Paulo - Eels
Parramatta Eels have made another significant move in re-singing fan favourite and up-the-middle wrecking ball Junior Paulo. Paulo has signed 4-year deal to remain at the Eels, after the club reportedly fended off an offer from the Dolphins. Paulo has been the heart of the Eels pack for several years and was a key retention.
Joseph Manu - Roosters
Manu was on the hot list of many clubs, as one of the most talented backs in the competition. The New Zealand star can fill almost any role in the backline, and he will be itching to get back into action after missing the closing weeks of 2021 with a broken jaw. The Roosters have locked him in until at least the end of 2024.
Wayde Egan - Warriors
Egan has signed a contract extension which will see him at the club until the end of the 2024 season. The 24 year-old former Panther has found a home at dummy-half for the relocated New Zealand side, having played 38 games for the club.
Blayke Brailey - Sharks
The Sharks have locked young hooker Brailey in until the end of 2026.
Clinton Gutherson - Eels
King Gutho's signing of a three-year extension must have come as a huge relief for Eels fans who were starting to see a worrying exodus of star players. Coach Brad Arthur has the Eels back in finals-playing form, and he will hope Gutho can rally the remaining stars to make another run at the Top 8 in 2022.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - Titans
Big Tino's signing is huge for the Titans, who are clearly on the improve as a team and want to build their short- and long-term success on the shoulders of the young Queensland Origin forward. There was a lot of talk around that Tino was going to be the Dolphins' first big signing after he took a tour of the Redcliffe facilities, but he has decided to stay and help the club build on last season's finals appearance.
Christian Welch - Storm
Another Queensland Origin forward many thought might end up at the Dolphins, Welch has instead decided to stay at the Storm. The front-rower has inked a three-year extension with Melbourne, making it highly likely he could end his career as a one-club man.
Dylan Walker - Sea Eagles
The Sea Eagles have extended versatile back Walker for another year. Walker, who moved from five-eighth to the bench to allow the return of Kieran Foran, can play anywhere in the backline and is a key depth player for the club.
Patrick Carrigan - Broncos
Carrigan will remain at the Broncos until the end of the 2024 season after signing a two-year contract extension. The 23 year-old middle forward has played 47 first grade games and is seen as central to the Broncos pack.