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NRL: Best players still coming off-contract

An updated look at some of the hottest players coming off-contract at the end of the year who could be worth a punt for 2018.

Most of the best off-contract talent has been snapped up around the league. But there are still a few experienced veterans, potential gems and solid footballers waiting to get the call for a gig in 2018.

  1. 1 Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)

    The champion half-back is expected to retire at the end of the season and take up a role with Fox Sports. But nothing is set in stone and a Sydney-based club could still lure Cooper Cronk with the promise of regular footy and a big pay cheque.

    Cronk is a natural winner and one of the most talented, hard-working players in the competition. He would be considered as an improvement on what most clubs currently have.

    Salary cap restraints and the short-term nature of any deal, coupled with the possibility that he might not wish to keep playing, will keep us guessing on this one for a while yet.

  2. 2 Ryan Hoffman (New Zealand Warriors)

    The Storm have reportedly made enquiries about bringing Ryan Hoffman back to Melbourne. The need to shake things up in New Zealand is clear, but it's hard to imagine how losing a workhorse back-rower with the experience and winning mentality of Hoffman could be a good move.

    Aside from the Storm, there are a number of clubs who could use Hoffman's starch in defence around the league. 

  3. 3 Sam Tagataese (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

    Sam Tagataese is one of those unappreciated forwards that every Premiership winner seems to have coming off the bench and getting involved.

    The former Storm and Titans man has played his best footy over in the Shire across the last few years. He is ready to test his value on the open market, as the Sharks attempt to juggle the salary cap issues that come with winning a Premiership.

    As a strong ball-runner and a decent defender, there's no reason why Tagataese's game wouldn't strengthen the forwards at most NRL clubs.

  4. 4 Gerard Beale (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

    Gerard Beale is another that you could easily see as being successful with the right coaching staff and a definitive role.

    Beale has carved out a solid, even if not outstanding, career but could take his game to the next level with a smart move at the end of the season.

    He has been labelled as surplus to requirements with Aaron Gray joining the Sharks in 2018. Beale is a player that could improve a number of club's centres, while the Craig Bellamy system at Melbourne could aid his development.

  5. 5 Gideon Gela-Mosby (North Queensland Cowboys)

    Many people haven't seen too much of him but the speedy Gideon Gela-Mosby has the potential to be a strong outside back in the NRL.

    Opportunities at the Cowboys have been few and far between. His free agent status provides a chance for a fresh start.

    It will be interesting to see what sort of setup he's attracted to and how his career will progress in the short to mid-term.

  6. 6 Sitaleki Akauola (Penrith Panthers)

    Ask most Penrith fans and they'll tell you how much they love the hard-grafting, hard-running forward that is Sitaleki Akauola.

    But Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has deemed Akauola as surplus to requirements after the back-rower was given limited game time in 2017.

    Akauola's passion could see him become a fan-favourite at another club after Panthers supporters took to the Kiwi forward. 

  7. 7 Tim Grant (Wests Tigers)

    Tim Grant has shown some flashes of the form that once catapulted him into the State of Origin.

    He would like to stay at the Tigers but it looks like they may have different plans, which don't involve the former Panther from 2018 onwards.

    There was a rumour that a return to Penrith may be on the cards but Grant could be a wise acquisition for many clubs in the league. If Grant gets back to his best, he could be an absolute bargain.

  8. 8 Chase Stanley (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

    Chase Stanley has had his fair share of injury concerns over the years while he has been forced to play all over the park for a Bulldogs side lacking creativity this year.

    Blessed with a decent amount of pace and a good football brain, Stanley could be seen as an ideal depth signing for clubs looking to add an outside back who can also play in the halves.

    He wouldn't constitute a marquee signing but Stanley has the talent and experience to carve out more time in the NRL for himself yet.

    Who do you think is the best player among those off-contract at the end of the season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Daniel Lang

Rugby League & Cricket editor at RealSport.

Daniel is a passionate advocate for the game of rugby league and the development of the sport across the world and, as such, writes with a zeal and determination to spread the gospel of the game.

A huge fan of cricket, football, NFL, Tennis and Supercar racing in Australia, Daniel can quickly find himself a casual fan of just about any sport after putting his mind to watching it.

Daniel is also one-half of the hugely successful podcast 'Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach' where he talks all things Panthers Weekly while he also hosts the current affairs show 'the Strawbs Show' and the 'Summer of Cricket with Strawbs & Shnuu' as well as appearing on the Sydney FC covering 'Nothing But Blue Skies' podcast occasionally.

NRL: Best players still coming off-contract

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