Welcome to the first edition of Quick Tap with Tony Webeck. Tony is a respected rugby league journalist with many years of experience covering the game. This season, he will be writing a weekly column about the Intrust Super Cup for QRL.com. For his first outing, he runs his eye over some of the recruits at each club.
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Much of the interest in the early rounds of a new season centres on the new arrivals at each club and how they will influence their respective premiership campaigns. Here are 14 newcomers eager to make a good first impression.
Cameron Cullen (Burleigh Bears)
A Gold Coast junior who spent time in both the Broncos and Cowboys systems along with a stint with Mackay last season, Cullen has returned to Burleigh for family reasons, but with a desire to take his game to another level. Signed to a one-year deal by the Titans, Cullen showed in the trial against South Sydney that he is a playmaker of considerable talent.
Adam Henry (CQ Capras)
A former Junior Kiwis representative who played in the Warriors' Under 20s premiership-winning team in 2011, Henry comes to Central Queensland on the back of two successful seasons for Bradford in England, finishing his stint with 21 tries from 50 appearances. At 24 years of age, he has plenty of good football ahead of him and is capable of playing virtually anywhere in the backline.
Daniel Foster (Easts Tigers)
Despite being unable to crack a first grade spot at Penrith, Foster has played six Tests for Tonga and is a clever half capable of playing at hooker. Foster played a key role in Tonga securing a 2017 Rugby League World Cup berth with a win over the Cook Islands last year and at 185cm and 95kg, he has a good frame for breaking tackles.
David Fa'alogo (Ipswich Jets)
The arrival of veteran David Fa'alogo will go some way to replacing inspirational skipper Keiron Lander at the defending premiers. Fa'alogo played 198 NRL games for the Rabbitohs and Knights as well as 57 for Huddersfield in the English Super League. His experience will be critical in the Ipswich rebuild.
Jack Creith (Mackay Cutters)
A former member of the Raiders Under 20s system, Creith comes to the Cutters after a season of first grade rugby in Sydney. A DVD of his highlights was enough for coach David Simpson to offer him a spot on his squad and his efforts in the pre-season saw him rewarded with a game for the Cowboys in their trial against the Broncos in Bundaberg. Named on the wing this week, Creith is expected to develop into a quality centre or fullback.
Akeripa Tia Kilifi (Northern Pride)
While Gideon Gela-Mosby took the plaudits for his record 38-try season with the Cowboys in Holden Cup last season, the man inside him drawing plenty of attention from defenders was Akeripa Tia Kilifi. A centre who will slot into the position vacated by former captain Brett Anderson, Akeripa is the younger brother of Vaipuna Tia Kilifi who played his first season with the Pride in 2015.
Jai Arrow (Norths Devils)
Contracted to the Broncos, Arrow graduates from the NYC in 2016 to test himself against men for the first time. The powerful middle forward is thought of highly at his club and will be eager to show he is ready for senior football with some big performances for the Devils.
Justin Olam (PNG Hunters)
A try-scorer for the PNG team in their annual clash with the Australian Prime Minister's XIII last year, Olam joins the Hunters in 2016. A centre and a wing, Olam has been a noted try-scorer for Lae Snax Tigers in the Digicel Cup and is adept at taking any chances that come his way.
Tyson Andrews (Redcliffe Dolphins)
With the retirement of Jon Green, Redcliffe were in need of some grunt up front and they don't get much bigger than Andrews. A Maroochydore junior, Andrews played with the Broncos Under 20s in 2008-2009 before quitting rugby league to take up boxing. He won an Australian amateur heavyweight title and after a stint with Mackay was signed by the Sea Eagles, playing four NRL games in 2014. The prop also represented the Indigenous All Stars in 2015.
Herman Ese'ese (Souths Logan Magpies)
Picked up by the Magpies after his contract with Canterbury-Bankstown was torn up, Ese'ese has flourished in a pre-season spent training with the Broncos. In his first year out of the Under 20s last year, he moved through to make his NRL debut for the Bulldogs in Round 7. Souths may lose him during the Origin period, but he’ll be a handy addition whenever he does take the field.
Ryley Jacks (Sunshine Coast Falcons)
Formerly Mitchell Pearce’s understudy coming through at the Roosters, Jacks links again with Craig Ingebrigtsen after the pair worked together at Easts Tigers in 2013. Joining the Falcons from Burleigh, Jacks looms as the ideal replacement for Ben Hampton who is set to feature prominently for the Storm this season.
Willie Minoga (Townsville Blackhawks)
No stranger to the Cup after two years with the Hunters, the ‘Raging Bull of Kokopo’ has linked with last year’s minor premiers to give their forward pack more punch in 2016. Already boasting NRL veterans Neville Costigan and Glenn Hall, Minoga is likely to be used from the bench by coach Kristian Woolf for impact.
Shannon Walker (Tweed Heads Seagulls)
Almost a decade since he was named the Courier-Mail Medal, Walker's face is a familiar one to Tweed Heads fans. Returning after a stint playing rugby sevens for Australia, Walker trained throughout the pre-season with the Titans and his electrifying attack is set to be unleashed by Gulls coach Aaron Zimmerle at fullback.
Mitchell Cronin (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
Once considered an option to replace Anthony Milford at fullback had he walked out early on Canberra, Cronin has reunited with brother Ben at Wynnum with an eye on replacing another NRL star. A utility who can slot in at fullback, in the halves or hooker, Cronin shapes as the man to fill the void left at No.9 following the departure of Jake Granville to the Cowboys.
A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.