NRL free agency frenzy: Each club’s November 1 open market list as Roosters face sombre salary cap squeeze

When the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, for the fiendish ghouls otherwise known as player agents, it’s their time to shine. 

You can make your own mind up on how many of them actually observe the NRL’s anti-tampering rules to negotiate contracts but as of Wednesday they are officially allowed to cut a deal for their clients for the 2025 season and beyond. 

Yes, there’s still the small matter of the 2024 season to get out of the way but this is supposedly the best system the NRL can muster. 

Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai, Roosters duo Joey Manu and Luke Keary, Broncos rising star Ezra Mam, Cowboys five-eighth Tom Dearden and Knights pair Jacob Saifiti and Bradman Best headline the list of free agents who are yet to lock in their long-term future who can field, and sign, offers from rival clubs now the deadline has expired.

Under the new rules, if a player signs elsewhere, the terms need to be submitted to the NRL and their previous club now has 10 days to convince them to stay with a counter offer before the deal is officially sealed by the salary cap auditors. 

Ezra Mam celebrates with teammates after scoring in the GF. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Roosters are facing some huge decisions over their roster over the next couple of seasons that can’t be laughed off with salary cap sombrero quips. 

Manu is one of league’s elite players but his preferred spot of fullback is blocked by captain James Tedesco, who is on the books for two more years, and the Kiwi international looked out of position during a switch to five-eighth midway through last season so even if Keary left, it appears he will remain at centre. 

The expected retirement of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph Suaalii’s switch to rugby will free up salary cap space but while Angus Crichton’s early departure to the 15-player code is off for now and the Roosters also need to accommodate upgrades for Siua Wong and Terrell May. 

Wong, viewed as a cornerpiece of their pack in the future, is reportedly set to ink his new deal but with Dominic Young and Spencer Leniu lobbing this off-season, there are likely to be a few high-profile players leaving the Roosters in the next 12 months.

Team by team, here is how each team sits on the eve of the November 1 deadline


2024 gains: Fletcher Baker (Roosters), Kurt Falls (Panthers) 

2023 departures: Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins), Keenan Palasia (Titans), Tom Flegler (Dolphins), Corey Oates, Jordan Pereira (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Adam Reynolds, Billy Walters, Brendan Piakura, Delouise Hoeter, Ezra Mam, Jock Madden, Jordan Riki, Kurt Capewell, Martin Taupau

Retaining Mam is priority No.1 for the Broncos after his breakout season capped off with a hat-trick in the heartbreaking Grand Final loss to Penrith. 

Reynolds is looking to go around again in 2025 and unless they can line up another chief playmaker, the Broncos will likely get a deal done with their skipper. 

Riki is another rising star who will command big dollars on the open market while Capewell is valued highly as a leader at the Broncos but could be an attractive signings target for a rebuilding club.


2024 gains: Bronson Xerri (return from drugs ban), Stephen Crichton (Panthers), Blake Taaffe (Rabbitohs), Jaeman Salmon (Panthers), Josh Curran (Warriors)

2023 departures: Jake Averillo (Dolphins), Tevita Pangai jnr (retired), Kyle Flanagan (Dragons), Paul Alamoti (Panthers), Luke Thompson (Wigan), Corey Waddell (Sea Eagles), Franklin Pele (Hull)

Post-2024 free agents: Chris Patolo, Hayze Perham, Jeral Skelton, Liam Knight, Max King, Reece Hoffman, Toby Sexton

The Bulldogs coming off contract will probably need to prove they’re worthy of an extension during the season as the club has a large part of its salary cap tied up long term in the raft of high-profile recruits who have come in the door in the past few seasons. 

Whether star winger Josh Addo-Carr remains at Canterbury is still up in the air and with the Dogs keen to bolster their pack and Stephen Crichton bringing extra attacking spark to their outside backs, offloading the Foxx’s lucrative deal may turn out to be a prudent move.

Tom Dearden is tackled. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)


2024 gains: Viliami Vailea (Warriors)

2023 departures: James Tamou (retired), Peta Hiku (Hull KR), Riley Price (Panthers), Mitch Dunn, Ben Hampton, Brendan Elliot, Jordan McLean, Gehamat Shibasaki (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Chad Townsend, Coen Hess, Helium Luki, Jake Granville, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Kyle Feldt, Sam McIntyre, Semi Valemei, Tom Dearden, Tom Chester, 

Dearden has rebuilt his career at the Cowboys after an unhappy exit from Brisbane but whether he is worth elite playmaker money is up for debate. Chad Townsend is coming to the end of his three-year deal and potentially his NRL career so the Cowboys will likely throw a healthy upgrade Dearden’s way rather than risk the possibility of needing an all-new halves combination. 


2024 gains: Herbie Farnworth (Broncos), Thomas Flegler (Broncos), Jake Averillo (Bulldogs), Oryn Keeley (Knights)

2023 departures: Herman Ese’ese (Hull FC), Brenko Lee, Poasa Faamausili, JJ Collins (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Anthony Milford, Edrick Lee, Euan Aitken, Jarrod Wallace, Jesse Bromwich, Kodi Nikorima, Mark Nicholls, Mason Teague, Ray Stone, Tesi Niu, Valyne Te Whare

Heading into the first season of Wayne’s new world at the Dolphins, it looked like he didn’t have a gun in his roster let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.  

The addition of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was the first step in giving them some firepower out wide and now that Herbie Farnworth and Jake Averillo have lobbed at Redcliffe, there should be a lot more points in Bennett’s team next year.

Bromwich and Aitken shape as their main retention priorities among the players coming off contract next year with the other free agents needing to prove they are worth a long-term investment.


2024 gains: Hame Sele (Rabbitohs), Kyle Flanagan (Bulldogs)

2023 departures: Jayden Sullivan (Wests Tigers), Zane Musgrove (Warrington), Tautau Moga, Tyrell Fuimaono (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Cody Ramsey, Francis Molo, Jack de Belin, Jack Bird (mutual option for 2025), Jaidyen Hunt, Jaydn Su’A, Mathew Feagai, Michael Molo, Moses Suli, Paul Turner, Savelio Tamale, Talatau Amone, Tyrell Sloan

Very few members of the underperforming St George Illawarra roster are nailed down to the floor, as evidenced by Jayden Sullivan being allowed to walk to the Wests Tigers despite having four more years left on his contract. 

Ben Hunt seemed to be blinking SOS subliminally in his latest TV interview when he repeated that he was very happy to be staying at the Dragons and in no way was desperate to free his captors to one day cross the border again to his northern homeland.

He is one of only nine Dragons who are under contract beyond next season. This side could look totally different by then.

Maroons forward Jaydn Su’A is probably the only Dragon who is becoming a free agent who should be a priority to retain, perhaps centre Moses Suli but he is reportedly intent on testing his market value and after stops at the Tigers, Dogs and Manly already in his his young career, he could be on the move again.


2024 gains: Kelma Tuilagi (Sea Eagles), Morgan Harper (Sea Eagles)

2023 departures: Jack Murchie (released), Josh Hodgson (retired), Andrew Davey (retired), Waqa Blake (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Bailey Simonsson, Daejarn Asi, Jirah Momoisea, Ky Rodwell, Makahesi Makatoa, Morgan Harper 

Depending on your perspective as an Eels fan, you are either happy they’ve got the nucleus of their team locked in long term or if you are one of their majority of half-glass empty supporters, you’d be concerned they’ve got the nucleus of their team locked in long term. 

If they can jag an attacking weapon like Josh Addo-Carr or Preston Campbell to bring some unpredictability to their attack, even if it means shedding an integral member of their pack, it could bring the 2022 runners-up back into title contention.

Of their impending free agents, Bailey Simonsson has given decent service but could be a target for rugby where he would be a much better chance of higher honours but also even greater anonymity. 

Tyson Gamble with Bradman Best. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)


2024 gains: Kai Pearce-Paul (Wigan), Will Pryce (Huddersfield), Jack Cogger (Panthers), Jed Cartwright (Rabbitohs)

2023 departures: Dominic Young (Roosters), Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Warrington), Simi Sasagi (Raiders), Lachlan Miller (Leeds), Fa’amanu Brown (Hull FC), Oryn Keeley (Dolphins), Hymel Hunt (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Bradman Best, Dane Gagai, Enari Tuala, Jacob Saifiti, Krystian Mapapalangi, Mat Croker, Simi Sasagi, Tyson Gamble

Jacob Saifiti and Bradman Best have finally started repaying Newcastle’s lengthy investment in them so they will be at the top of Adam O’Brien’s shopping list while Tyson Gamble has slotted in well as Jackson Hastings’ halves partner but faces a battle for his spot following Jack Cogger’s return home. 

Dane Gagai will be 34 by the time the 2025 season rolls around so despite still making an impact at centre, his time at the NRL level could be running out next year.


2024 gains: Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Brad Schneider (Hull KR), Paul Alamoti (Bulldogs)

2023 departures: Stephen Crichton (Bulldogs), Spencer Leniu (Roosters), Jaeman Salmon (Bulldogs), Jack Cogger (Knights), Kurt Falls (Broncos), Tom Jenkins (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Daine Laurie, Jarome Luai, Luke Garner, Matt Eisenhuth, Mitch Kenny, Paul Alamoti, Sunia Turuva, Taylan May, Tyrone Peachey, Zac Hosking

Luai is revered within the walls of the Penrith inner sanctum as one of the keys to their triple premiership-winning success on and off the field but there’s only so much salary cap to go round and with all their other main stars signed up into the latter part of the decade, he’s going to have to accept less if he stays than what he will command on the open market.

Mitch Kenny is the opposite when it comes to public profile but has arguably become just as important to their top-shelf spine while the asking price for bargain buys like Sunia Turuva and Zac Hosking won’t be as cheap next time around.

Jarome Luai. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)


2024 gains: Jack Wighton (Raiders), Sean Keppie (Sea Eagles)

2023 departures: Hame Sele (Dragons), Blake Taaffe (Bulldogs), Jed Cartwright (Knights)

Post-2024 free agents: Ben Lovett, Dean Hawkins, Isaiah Tass, Izaac Thompson, Jai Arrow, Josiah Karapani, Leon Te Hau, Michael Chee Kam, Peter Mamouzelos, Shaq Mitchell, Taane Milne, Tom Burgess

Arrow is closing in on a new deal as the last of South Sydney’s rep stars to commit to a multi-year contract. 

With Wighton coming into the side, the Rabbitohs have little more cash to splash so the players coming off contract will need to head elsewhere if they want to bump up their pay packet.


2024 gains: Simi Sasagi (Knights), Kaeo Weekes (Sea Eagles)

2023 departures: Jack Wighton (Rabbitohs), Matt Frawley (Leeds), Jarrod Croker (retired), Clay Webb (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Adrian Trevilyan, Ata Mariota, Elliott Whitehead, Harley Smith-Shields, Jamal Fogarty, James Schiller, Jordan Rapana, Nick Cotric, Pasami Saulo, Peter Hola, Trey Mooney, Zac Woolford

Whitehead and Rapana are getting to the end of their careers while there are several other roster slots that are up for grabs post 2024 in the national capital. 

Filling them with top-line talent by attracting them to chilly Canberra is usually a tough sell for Raiders management. Fogarty is the main retention priority heading into next season as he comes to the final installment of the three-year deal that brought him south from the Gold Coast.


2024 gains: Dominic Young (Knights), Spencer Leniu (Panthers)

2023 departures: Fletcher Baker (Broncos), Jaxson Paulo (Sea Eagles), Matt Lodge (Sea Eagles), Paul Momirovski (Leeds), Billy Smith, Connor Watson, Corey Allan, Nathan Brown, Jake Turpin (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Angus Crichton, Brandon Smith (player option for 2025), Daniel Tupou, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Joey Manu, Luke Keary, Naufau Whyte, Nat Butcher, Sitili Tupouniua, Siua Wong, Terrell May

There’s a salary cap squeeze on the horizon in Sydney’s east with established stars Luke Keary, Daniel Tupou and Sitili Tupouniua looking vulnerable on top of the already confirmed departure of Joseph Suaalii and expected exits from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Angus Crichton. 

Manu is the big ticket item on the Roosters’ list, Butcher has developed into a fringe rep player while Wong and May are considered the cornerstones of the pack in years to come, alongside Leniu following his transition from Penrith. 

Nat Butcher. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Sea Eagles

2024 gains: Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers), Tommy Talau (Wests Tigers), Jaxson Paulo (Roosters), Aitasi James (Wests Tigers), Corey Waddell (Bulldogs)

2023 departures: Samuela Fainu (Wests Tigers), Kelma Tuilagi (Eels), Morgan Harper (Eels), Kaeo Weekes (Raiders), Sean Keppie, Aaron Woods (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Ben Trbojevic, Christian Tuipulotu, Corey Waddell, Karl Lawton, Lachlan Croker, Raymond Veaga, Zac Fulton

Manly have their main roster pieces locked in long term and Croker, who has become a reliable and relatively inexpensive hooker for them in the past few years, is their main free agent to get re-signed.

There are a lot of moving parts in their side heading into 2024 and the success, or otherwise, of Luke Brooks being added to the halves and Josh Schuster returning to the pack will in large part dictate their future prospects and how they shape their roster. Anthony Seibold needs to get full value out of those two players in particular because they’re both signed up until the end of 2027.


2024 gains: Nil

2023 departures: Wade Graham (retired)

Post-2024 free agents: Braden Hamlin-Uele, Connor Tracey, Jack Williams, Jayden Berrell, Jesse Colquhoun, Mawene Hiroti, Toby Rudolf, Tuku Hau Tapuha

Hamlin-Uele, Rudolf and Williams are integral parts of Craig Fitzgibbon’s middle-forward rotation so they will be at the top of Cronulla’s to-do list for new contracts. 

Tracey has struggled to establish a permanent spot so he could be a very handy pick-up for another club in need of a versatile option who can cover the outside backs and halves. 


2024 gains: Nil

2023 departures: Tom Eisenhuth, George Jennings (unsigned), Tariq Sims (Catalans)

Post-2024 free agents: Aaron Pene, Marion Seve, Nick Meaney, Reimis Smith, 

Meaney and Smith have been very valuable for Melbourne over the past couple of seasons and with Justin Olam potentially heading to the Wests Tigers and Ryan Papenhuyzen’s playing future clouded after back-to-back serious leg injuries, their retention will be important for the club, particularly if 2024 is the last of the Craig Bellamy era.

Nick Meaney is tackled by Joe Stimson. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)


2024 gains: Keenan Palasia (Broncos)

2023 departures: Kruise Leeming (Wigan)

Post-2024 free agents: Isaac Liu, Jacob Alick, Joe Stimson, Kieran Foran, Klese Haas, Tom Weaver, Treymain Spry

Liu and Foran are unlikely to be retained beyond next year with the retirement lounge and the Super League (they’re not necessarily the same thing) calling.

Haas showed game-breaking ability last season to show he was more than just a famous surname so the Titans may have to move fast to keep him away from rival CEOs.


2024 gains: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (rugby), Chanel Harris-Tavita (rejoining club)

2023 departures: Viliame Vailea (Cowboys), Bayley Sironen (Catalans), Brayden Wiliame (retired), Josh Curran (Bulldogs), Valingi Kepu (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Freddy Lussick, Jackson Ford, Jazz Tevaga, Luke Metcalf, Rocco Berry, Shaun Johnson, Tohu Harris 

DWZ had a form resurgence last season so he will be a priority re-signing if his performances remain at that level next year while Johnson and Harris are all but certain to stay if they extend their careers beyond 2024.

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Wests Tigers

2024 gains: Latu Fainu (Sea Eagles), Samuela Fainu (Sea Eagles), Jayden Sullivan (Dragons), Aidan Sezer (Leeds)

2023 departures: Luke Brooks (Sea Eagles), Tommy Talau (Sea Eagles), Daine Laurie (Panthers), Aitasi James (Sea Eagles), Alex Seyfarth, Brandon Wakeham, Tuki Simpkins, Charlie Staines (unsigned)

Post-2024 free agents: Adam Doueihi, Aidan Sezer, Asu Kepaoa, Brandon Tumeth, Jake Simpkin, Junior Tupou, Rua Ngatikaura, Shawn Blore, Triston Reilly

There are moves afoot to shift Blore to the Storm in exchange for Justin Olam after the PNG centre fell out of favour with Craig Bellamy.

The fact that Sezer has only been signed for a season is an indication he’s a makeshift halves option while Sullivan and Latu Fainu get experience. 

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