NRL off-season news and moves: Dragons tinker, Knights farewell 10 in shake-up

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The North Queensland Cowboys had reacted to their horror season by running an axe through the roster, cutting nine players in a brutal cull.

The Cowboys were four points from making the 2022 NRL grand final but struggled early in the season to crash out in 11th on the ladder.

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While the Cowboys were in good company with the 2022 grand finalists Parramatta and fellow prelim side South Sydney in crashing out before finals in 2023, the Cowboys have acted to change up its roster.

Centre Peta Hiku signed with the Super League, forward Riley Price signed with the Panthers and veteran James Tamou retired, but six other players have just been cut.

It includes 82-game utility Ben Hampton as well as winger Brendan Elliot, uncapped halfback Jake Bourke, Fijian international Taniel Sadragu, 58-game forward Mitchell Dunn and outside back Gehamat Shibasaki.

The moves are set to be made official at the club’s presentation night on Wednesday

Gus whacks Eels with double blow

Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould has struck two blows against the Eels in quick succession.

The Eels are keen to replenish its outside back stocks after its poor 2023 season which saw the club go from grand finalists to missing the finals altogether.

But not only has Gould stopped a poaching raid, he’s nabbed a promising Eels junior.

Parramatta were sniffing around winger Blake Wilson as the Eels had begun informal talks.

There was no formal offer on extended but the winger has rejected the Eels to stay with the Dogs, where he scored six tries in 11 matches for the club.

Gould then launched a raid of his own, nabbing Eels SG Ball winger Cody Parry, who represented the Australian Schoolboys.

Parry scored 10 tries in five games in the SG Ball this season.

Knights cull 10 as clubs start mass clean outs

Incoming St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan has begun his clean out of the Dragons roster, with two players set to leave the club.

Tautau Moga and Nick Lui-Toso will depart the Dragons, while there’s plenty of movement at other clubs in the NRL.

The Newcastle Knights may be heading into finals in red hot form, but they will lose 10 players, including winger Dom Young, who will join the Roosters next season.

Adam Clune, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Lachlan Miller are all heading from Newcastle to the Super League from 2024.

The Warriors have confirmed forward Bayley Sironen won’t have his contract extended, while young prop Valingi Kepu will also depart the club at the end of the year.

The news of the duo’s departure was confirmed at the Warriors’ end-of-season awards.

Ben Murdoch-Masila is heading from the Warriors to the Dragons, and Viliami Vailea is going to the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Dolphins will farewell premiership winner Brenko Lee but are set to welcome Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler next season.

BRISBANE BRONCOS

Departing

Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins)

Thomas Flegler (Dolphins)

Keenan Palasia (Titans)

Ethan Quai-Ward (Bulldogs)

Incoming

Fletcher Baker (Roosters)

CANBERRA RAIDERS

Departing

Jarrod Croker (Retired)

Matt Frawley (Leeds Rhinos — SL)

Brad Schneider (Panthers)

Semi Valemei (Cowboys)

Jack Wighton (Rabbitohs)

Incoming

Simi Sasagi (Knights)

CANTERBURY BULLDOGS

Departing

Paul Alamoti (Panthers)

Jake Averillo (Dolphins)

Fa’amanu Brown (mid-season — Knights)

Brandon Clarke (Released)

Andrew Davey (mid-season — Eels)

Kyle Flanagan (Dragons)

Jayden Okunbor (Hull FC — SL)

Tevita Pangai Jr. (retired)

Franklin Pele (Hull FC — SL)

Josh Reynolds (Retired)

Incoming

Stephen Crichton (Panthers)

Jaeman Salmon (Panthers)

Blake Taaffe (Rabbitohs)

Bronson Xerri (Drug ban)

CRONULLA SHARKS

Departing

Wade Graham (retired)

Matt Ikuvalu (mid-season — Catalans Dragons — SL)

Incoming

None

DOLPHINS

Departing

JJ Collins (released)

Herman Ese’ese (Hull FC — SL)

Poasa Faamausili (released)

Oliver Gildart (Hull Kingston Rovers)

Brenko Lee (Super League)

Incoming

Jake Averillo (Bulldogs)

Herbie Farnworth (Broncos)

Tom Flegler (Broncos)

GOLD COAST TITANS

Departing

Aaron Booth (retired)

Patrick Herbert (released)

Kruise Leeming (Wigan Warriors — SL)

Ben Liyou (released)

Sam McIntyre (mid-season — Cowboys)

Thomas Mikaele (mid-season — Warrington Wolves — SL)

Toby Sexton (mid-season — Bulldogs)

Incoming

Keenan Palasia (Broncos)

MANLY SEA EAGLES

Departing

Latu Fainu (Tigers)

Samuela Fainu (Tigers)

Incoming

Luke Brooks (Tigers)

Jaxson Paulo (Roosters)

Tommy Talau (Tigers)

MELBOURNE STORM

Departing

None

Incoming

None

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

Departing

Viliami Vailea (Cowboys)

Otukinekina Kepu (Released)

Bayley Sironen (Released)

Valingi Kepu (Released)

Taniela Otukolo (Released)

Incoming

Chanel Harris-Tavita (Retirement)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Rugby)

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Departing

Dominic Young (Sydney Roosters)

Adam Clune (Huddersfield Giants)

Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Warrington Wolves)

Lachlan Miller (Leeds Rhinos)

Simi Sasagi (Raiders)

Hymel Hunt (released)

Bailey Hodgson (released)

Dane Aukafolau (released)

Jack Johns (released)

Incoming

Jack Cogger (Panthers)

Jed Cartwright (Rabbitohs)

Will Pryce (Huddersfield Giants — SL)

Kai Pearce-Paul (Wigan Warriors — SL)

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Departing

Peta Hiku (Hull Kingston Rovers)

Riley Price (Panthers)

James Tamou (retired)

Ben Hampton (released)

Brendan Elliot (released)

Jake Bourke (released)

Taniela Sadrugu (released)

Mitchell Dunn (released)

Gehamat Shibasaki (released)

Incoming

Jake Clifford (Hull FC — SL)

Viliami Vailea (Warriors)

PARRAMATTA EELS

Departing

Jake Arthur (mid-season — Manly Sea Eagles)

Nathan Brown (mid-season — Roosters)

Josh Hodgson (retired)

Jack Murchie (Huddersfield Giants — SL)

Mitch Rein (retired)

Incoming

None

PENRITH PANTHERS

Departing

Jack Cogger (Knights)

Stephen Crichton (Bulldogs)

Spencer Leniu (Roosters)

Jaeman Salmon (Bulldogs)

Incoming

Paul Alamoti (Bulldogs)

Daine Laurie (Tigers)

Riley Price (Cowboys)

Brad Schneider (Raiders)

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

Departing

Jed Cartwright (Knights)

Liam Knight (Bulldogs)

Hame Sele (Dragons)

Blake Taaffe (Bulldogs)

Incoming

Jack Wighton (Raiders)

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Departing

Jaidyn Hunt (Broncos)

Josh Kerr (mid-season — Dolphins)

Nick Lui-Toso (released)

Moses Mbye (mid-season — St Helens Saints — SL)

Tautau Moga (released)

Jayden Sullivan (Tigers)

Aaron Woods (mid-season — Manly)

Incoming

Kyle Flanagan (Bulldogs)

Hame Sele (Rabbitohs)

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Departing

Fletcher Baker (Broncos)

Tuku Hau Tapuha (Sharks)

Matthew Lodge (mid-season — Manly)

Jaxson Paulo (Manly)

Incoming

Spencer Leniu (Panthers)

Lewis Murphy (Wakefield Trinity — SL)

Dominic Young (Knights)

WESTS TIGERS

Departing

Luke Brooks (Manly)

Daine Laurie (Panthers)

Ken Maumalo (mid-season — Titans)

Joe Ofahengaue (mid-season — Eels)

Tommy Talau (Manly)

Incoming

Latu Fainu (Manly)

Samuela Fainu (Manly)

Aidan Sezer (Leeds Rhinos — SL)

Jayden Sullivan (Dragons)

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