The NRL market has been in full swing for 2023 with several stars switching clubs ahead of the new season.
NRL.com takes a look at the major transfers and how your club will benefit from a star arrival.
Marata Niukore (Warriors)
- Age: 26
- Position they’ll fill: Prop/second row
- Contracted until: 2026
What Niukore can bring
Six years after leaving Auckland in search of NRL opportunities, Marata Niukore returns to the Warriors on a long-term deal which will see him become a cornerstone of their forward pack.
During his time at the Eels he amassed 96 first-grade games and became a Kiwi international, with a powerful style of play on both sides of the ball, and an ability to move seamlessly between the forward pack and centres, making him a valuable asset.
The Warriors plan to make the most of that versatility, with coach Andrew Webster confirming his intention to use Niukore as both a middle and edge forward this coming season.
Wherever he plays the Warriors will be getting a player who is going to lock down his part of the field off the ball, with Niukore boasting an impressive 92.57 percent tackle efficiency rate across his career so far.
Of the 422 tackles the 26-year-old made last season, he missed just 24, while on the ball he's no slouch either, averaging 95 metres in 2022 and scoring three tries.
Niukore monsters Amone
Why it'll work
A big part of signing with the Warriors was the opportunity for Niukore and his young family to be closer to family in Auckland, which he revealed after a trip home for the mid-year Test against Tonga in 2022.
With a more settled off-field life and bigger support system around him, plus the comfort of a long-term deal, there is no reason to think Niukore can't reach new levels in 2023 and beyond at Mt Smart Stadium.
The defensive skills he brings to the game will be huge for a Warriors side who leaked more points than any other NRL side last season, at an average of 29.1 per game.
The fact that he can move between the middle and edge of the forward pack will important for coach Webster too, with the Warriors lacking depth in both of those areas right now.