While most people will be resolving to stop smoking, take up exercise or spend more time with their family, footy clubs have a completely different set of priorities when it comes to what they want to achieve in the new year.
Daily Mail Australia has analysed what all 17 NRL clubs will crave in their Christmas stocking ahead of the 2024 season.
From a quality five-eighth at Belmore for Cameron Ciraldo to Tom Trbojevic avoiding another serious injury at the Sea Eagles, we’ve got every team covered…
A fit and firing Reece Walsh. The brilliant fullback offers Kevin Walters a clear x-factor as the men from Red Hill look to atone from their heartbreaking grand final defeat at the hands of the Panthers.
Who fills Jack Wighton’s shoes at five-eighth remains to be seen. Candidates include Kaeo Weekes and young gun Ethan Strange, which won’t fill rusted-on fans with confidence in the nation’s capital. Halfback Jamal Fogarty needs to step up considerably and take ownership of the team.
Is Matt Burton the man to wear the number six jersey? The jury is still out based on this season and given he won a premiership with Penrith playing in the centres, a move back out wide seems the smart tip. Recruits Jaemon Salmon and Drew Hutchison are two options to partner Toby Sexton in the halves.
Reece Walsh offers Kevin Walters a clear x-factor as the Broncos look to atone from their heartbreaking grand final defeat
The jury is still out on whether Matt Burton should be the Bulldogs five-eighth in 2024
Overcoming their poor finals record is pivotal. In the eyes of many footy fans, they have been handed a favourable draw, so the time for excuses in the Shire is over. Nicho Hynes also needs to prove he is a big game player in September.
Avoiding the dreaded second season syndrome. Normally reserved for rookies, in this instance Wayne Bennett will be hoping it doesn’t apply to his team.
Gold Coast Titans
Looming as a dark horse, especially with Des Hasler at the helm. The former school teacher demands perfection, and how he fits both AJ Brimson and Jayden Campbell into his team each week will be intriguing. Both are better than impact players off the bench.
Manly Sea Eagles
Same as the past few years – for fullback Tom Trbojevic to stay injury free. Perhaps a move to the centres awaits given the emergence of Tolutau Koula this year.
Ryan Papenhuyzen is due some luck after some terrible injuries. No doubt Craig Bellamy will be wanting more from his halves pairing Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes, who were found wanting at times this year.
Tom Trbojevic will be hoping for an injury free 2024 after many setbacks in recent years
Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is another NRL star who will be keen to avoid time on the sideline
Jack Cogger showed in the NRL grand final for the Panthers how valuable he can be on the big stage. The junior prodigy will be given the keys to the team, and if he combines well with Jackson Hastings, a top four finish isn’t out of the question, especially with Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga on the team sheet.
New Zealand Warriors
More of the same. Under new coach Andrew Webster, the ‘Wahs’ were a breath of fresh air. Now they need to repeat the dose and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could be the man to guide them to a maiden premiership.
North Queensland Cowboys
Finishing 11th was a shock and it safe to say Todd Payten will leave no stone unturned to ensure they feature in the finals. Whether Chad Townsend is the answer to play halfback at 32 is the million dollar question.
Brad Arthur is running out of bullets to fire – so he will lean on his halves Dylan Brown and Mitch Moses to deliver. Brown is still living off his potential, but if he if consistent, the Eels can feature when it matters.
Not much needs to change following a premiership three-peat. Penrith fans will be keeping an eye on the Nathan Cleary-Mary Fowler relationship, because as many readers will attest to, long distance relationships can be hard work.
Will Nathan Cleary leave the NRL to be closer to his girlfriend, Matildas star Mary Fowler?
Distant cousins Jack Wighton and Latrell Mitchell will look to spark the Rabbitohs in 2024
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Jack Wighton is an astute recruit, but where will he play in the backline? Lachlan Ilias knows the vultures are circling and Latrell Mitchell also needs to hit the ground running.
St George Illawarra Dragons
The Red V narrowly avoided the wooden spoon, but a new coach in Shane Flanagan could prove to be a masterstroke. Want-away halfback Ben Hunt needs to prove to fans he is committed, with actions speaking louder than words.
Coach Trent Robinson will be banking on consistency, which was his team’s Achilles Heel in 2023. Sam Walker knows his defence must be better if he is to remain in first grade – and look for recruit Spencer Leniu to show everyone why he is a starting player.
The only way is up at Concord, and the playing group will be desperate to avoid ‘winning’ three successive wooden spoons. Coach Benji Marshall was a magician in his playing days, and will look to pass on his footy IQ. Hopefully he gets the desired reaction.