Smith hot property as NRL market opens

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Monday looms as one of the most significant days in the NRL calendar - the start of the new contractual year.

The phones of agents, recruitment officers and coaches are set to ring hot as some of the NRL's best talent enter the final 12 months of their existing contracts.

Any of the 140 or more players with less than a year to run on their contracts will have the opportunity to entertain offers from rival clubs.

Sydney Roosters centre Joey Manu, Parramatta prop Junior Paulo and Melbourne's Brandon Smith are some of those expected to get a large amount of interest.

Smith is likely to be a target for several clubs given the scarcity of good hookers, with the Roosters, Gold Coast, Canterbury, Manly and the NRL's 17th club, the Dolphins, all monitoring the Kiwi international's next move.

Parramatta's Reed Mahoney and Penrith's Api Koroisau are two other impressive dummy-halves available, but they do not have Harry Grant - the man seen as Cameron Smith's long-term heir at Melbourne - blocking their route to the No. 9 jumper.

Melbourne want to keep Smith but with his family relocating to Brisbane from New Zealand he may be swayed to head for riches elsewhere.

"We're looking for offers on the table," the hooker's manager, Stan Martin, told AAP.

"Once that happens, I'll sit down with Brandon and see what we've got to work with.

"We've got a year to go, but we want to get it resolved sooner rather than later so Brandon can focus on 2022 with the Storm."

The Dolphins are the joker in the pack.

Their admission will be used to leverage better offers from the existing clubs. But by the same token, the chance to work under Wayne Bennett and be the face of a new franchise with no salary cap baggage will be an appealing proposition.

"You've got a $9.5m salary cap and you know you have to get some marquee players and that will be our priority," Bennett said when unveiled as their coach.

Those words will be of concern to a club such as Parramatta who have six star names poised to hit the market.

Along with Paulo and Mahoney, captain Clint Gutherson and the backrow trio of Marata Niukore, Ryan Matterson and Isaiah Papali'i are free to speak with rival clubs.

The Storm's Christian Welch is likely to be a target for the Dolphins while other Queensland talents such as Gold Coast flyer Phillip Sami and Broncos prop Patrick Carrigan are up for grabs come Monday morning.

South Sydney's Cody Walker and Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tevita are both yet to finalise their futures.

Some sides - including the Brisbane Broncos and the Wests Tigers - have free spots on their rosters immediately, meaning that should a deal be struck for 2022, a player in the final year of his contract may be granted a release.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting