With the 2023 NRL season just a few days away, we take a look at the player to watch in each and every team. They might be new to the club, there might be a lot expected of them or it simply might be the year they really need to step it up. Whatever it is, you can't afford to take your eyes off of these 17 players.
Broncos - Reece Walsh
Walsh left Brisbane in rather acrimonious circumstances, not happy with his treatment at the club after new coach Kevin Walters suggested that he wasn't ready for first grade. He departed for the Warriors, where, in between injuries, he had ample opportunity to develop his game and prove himself worthy. The Broncos and Walters were obviously impressed enough to welcome him back and will now look to build their attack around his contributions from fullback.
Raiders - Joseph Tapine
Tapine burst into the NRL as a young forward who showed maturity beyond his years to become a real leader at club and representative level. He has moved from the back of the scrum to the engine room in recent years and his influence has not waned. Together with Josh Papalii he will be relied upon to move the Green Machine around the park, giving the backs the momentum they need to take on the NRL's best defences. When the going gets tough for the Raiders, look for Tapine to get going.
Bulldogs - Reed Mahoney
The Bulldogs welcome several new players in 2023, with fans keen to see major contributions from the likes of Viliame Kikau and Hayze Perham, but the biggest difference maker for the club will be returning hooker Reed Mahoney. His slick service from dummy-half is going to be absolutely vital for the Bulldogs under new coach Cameron Ciraldo. If Kyle Flanagan and Matt Burton are going to be effective in the halves, Mahoney will need to be at his scheming best.
Sharks - Nicho Hynes
It might seem obvious to name the reigning Dally M medallist as a player to watch, but the interesting thing about Nicho Hynes is that he is still improving in the halfback position. Hynes continues to grow into the role under the guidance of coach Craig Fitzgibbon and could easily win back-to-back Dally Ms as he leads the Sharks towards a realistic shot at the premiership.
Dolphins - Anthony Milford
Milford is the player to watch in a wide-open field of others in this club making its NRL debut. Watch him closely if only in the hope that he finally reaches his true potential under Wayne Bennett. At his best, he could form a lethal combination with Sean O'Sullivan in the halves; at his worst, his NRL career might not last much longer.
Titans - Kieran Foran
Gold Coast has always struggled with consistency. They have been brilliant at times, embarrassing at others. Veteran half Kieran Foran could be the perfect acquisition to change all that. If his body can stand up to the rigours of a full season, he might be the one to lead the Titans into the finals. You certainly know he will give his all and lead by example.
Sea Eagles - Ben Trbojevic
It's a Trbojevic, but not the most obvious or even second most obvious one. Ben Trbojevic is the player to watch this season as he strives to make his mark at the club alongside his celebrated brothers. With Tom battling to stay on the field and Jake as steadfast as ever, it will be interesting to see where new coach Anthony Seibold uses Ben and how much of an impact he will have.
Storm - Harry Grant
Harry Grant is indisputably the Storm's best hooker in 2023 and it will be interesting to see him really own the role without the shadow of Brandon Smith lurking on the bench. Smith has departed to the Roosters, while three other Storm forwards have gone to the Dolphins, leaving Grant to tackle the season surrounded by new faces. Being the champion that he is, he will no doubt thrive.
Knights - Lachlan Miller
It would be easy to name new halfback Jackson Hastings, who faces an enormous task lifting the Knights back towards the Top 8, but there is another new face that stands out more. Lachlan Miller has joined the Knights via rugby union and the Sharks, and he has the task of replacing Kalyn Ponga at fullback. If the plan to move Ponga to five-eighth is to have any hope of succeeding, Miller will need to make a real impact from the back.
Warriors - Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was a star for the Raiders in the fullback role, but struggled to make his way back into the starting side after injury. He has moved to the Warriors with hopes of reinvigorating his career. Hard-running, skillful with the ball and rock solid in defence, it will be interesting to see how he goes.
Cowboys - Valentine Holmes
You simply must keep an eye on Valentine Holmes whenever he plays, whether it be for the Cowboys, Queensland, Australia or the New York Jets. There is always something exciting about to happen when the ball finds its way to Holmes. He played a key part in the unexpected success of the Cowboys last season and again will be vital to their hopes in 2023.
Eels - Josh Hodgson
Apart from keeping an eye on Mitchell Moses and wondering how contract negotiations are going to affect his performance, the player you really need to watch is Josh Hodgson. Hodgson was one of the best hookers in the game until his knee gave way. He comes to the Eels to replace Reed Mahoney and is more than capable of filling his empty boots. Will his body hold on to allow him to show his true ability for the Eels?
Panthers - Stephen Crichton
Crichton has promised fans that he will be giving his all to winning a third straight premiership with the Panthers in 2023, before departing to the Bulldogs. With several other stars already out the door for the Panthers, Crichton will need to play to his full potential in 2023 if they are to win again.
Dragons - Tyrell Sloan
Fullback Tyrell Sloan, who has been battling coach Anthony Griffin and his own ability, will be the player to watch for the Dragons in 2023. Is he going to develop into the superstar fullback that many hope he will? Will Griffin, his own career under threat, have the patience to nurse Sloan through any early difficulties he may encounter?
Rabbitohs - Cameron Murray
Murray has developed into one of the premier back-rowers of the NRL competition. He rarely has a bad game, but when he's firing, the Rabbitohs inevitably follow. His defence and darting runs around the ruck take the pressure off his forwards and halves, and he's always a good bet for anytime try-scorer.
Roosters - Brandon Smith
With outside back Joseph Suaalii looking to impress both Roosters and Wallabies fans it might pay to keep an eye on him, but the player to watch at the Roosters is clearly former Storm hooker Brandon Smith. Smith has all the ingredients the Roosters need to take a big leap forward in 2023, possibly all the way to the title.
Tigers - Api Koroisau
With a new coaching staff and several key signings, the Tigers are looking to end a painful finals drought in 2023. The player most likely to make a difference to their chances and therefore the player to watch is Api Koroisau. Not many dummy-halves can read a defence better than Koroisau. He is an enormous gain for the Tigers whose fans can't wait to see the influence he will have.