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Another Panther has left the building: Our rolling 2025 NRL signings tracker


sunia turuva re-signs, panthers, nrl 2024

With the opening of the NRL’s pre-agency period at the beginning of November each year comes a clamour by teams and off-contract stars around the country to recruit, re-sign and set their futures in concrete.

This is due to November 1 throwing open the window for clubs to sign players off contract at the end of the following calendar year meaning that, for example, the 1 November 2023 allowed clubs to sign players off contract at the end of 2024, who won’t lace their boots in their new colours until early 2025 at least.

It’s weird, it’s wonderful, and it’s one of rugby league’s distinctive characteristics. By allowing teams to recruit stars over 12 months in advance the NRL let fan’s hopes and expectations simmer and brew, with some viewing their new arrivals as knights in shining armour capable of repairing their team’s many problems and others as simply an additional piece in an already star-studded lineup.

It’s a player market unlike anything in world sport, but is it a good system? Some would argue no, based on the belief that, while it fills off-season column inches and keeps rugby league circulating through the social discourse long after the season’s final try has been scored, it often creates clouds of doubt over a team’s seasons as off-contract stars’ futures take centre stage over a team’s performances, both good and bad.

In recent years, we’ve seen Stephen Crichton and Viliame Kikau trade Penrith for Belmore through this system, and in 2024 similar pre-contract movements are sure to be as common as players commenting ‘full credit to the boys’ after victory.

The year is young, but already we’ve seen a few star names announce their 2025 moves.

NRL 2025 signings tracker

Throughout the year, we’ll be keeping our eye on all the pre-contracts signed for 2025 and beyond and constantly updating our list so it remains fresh.

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Sunia Turuva

Penrith Panthers to the Wests Tigers

Another day, another Penrith departure. Having already lost Jarome Luai, James Fisher-Harris and Jett Cleary for 2025, the three-time reigning Premiers will also enter next season without winger Sunia Turuva.

An exceptional winger moulded in the like of club man Brian To’o, Turuva is equally adept at tough carries out of his own end as he is acrobatically finishing sweeping Penrith shape.

For a Tigers outfit lacking class and polish in the outside backs, Turuva’s signature is crucial. Capable of playing on the wing and at fullback, his versatility could provide much-needed competition for key positions in Benji Marshall’s side. At worst, the Tigers have signed a potent try scorer. If you ask us, that’s not a bad worst case.

Kulikefu Finefeuiaki

North Queensland to the Dolphins

A south-east Queensland native, Kulikefu Finefeuiakin will return home in 2025, inking a three-year deal with the Dolphins. A strong ball carrier and highly promising back rower, a full-strength Cowboys outfit with a fully fit Heilum Luki and Jeremiah Nanai would see Finefeuiaki feature largely off the bench.

He moves south in the hope of increased minutes. Given the ageing Dolphins forward pack, which includes the 32-year-old Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, it’s likely Finefeuiaki arrives to provide a youthful edge to a grizzled and experienced pack.

Jett Cleary

Penrith Panthers to the New Zealand Warriors

He’s probably not the Panthers half named Cleary you’d dream of signing but by all reports, Jett Cleary is a supremely talented footballer. At 19, there is still plenty of football to be played by Jett. With Shaun Johnson on the wrong side of 30 and likely only playing for a few more seasons, if that, it feels Cleary is Johnson’s succession plan.

Having likely watched a young Johnson at training while his dad coached the Warriors, it must feel like a full-circle moment for the younger Cleary to potentially take the reigns at the Auckland outfit when one of its greats hangs the boots up.

He’s certainly got the name and from 2025 on we’ll find out if Jett Cleary’s also got the ability.

Karl Lawton

Manly Sea Eagles to the North Queensland Cowboys

Todd Payten’s side welcomes Manly utility Karl Lawton on a two-year deal from 2025. Primarily a hooker, Lawton’s morphed into a capable middle forward able to seamlessly rotate through the middle, or on an edge when necessary.

Without being a world-beater, Lawton’s versatility and grit make him a more than serviceable member of any NRL squad.

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James Fisher-Harris

Penrith Panthers to the New Zealand Warriors

In a move that shocked the rugby league world, the reigning three-time Premiers released their star prop James Fisher-Harris from the final two years of his contract, allowing him to join the New Zealand Warriors on a four-year deal beginning in 2025.

For the Warriors, Fisher-Harris arrives as an exceptional replacement for the outgoing Addin Fonua-Blake, who joins the Cronulla Sharks in 2025. Between 2020 and 2023, Fisher-Harris made no less than 91% of his tackles and ran for at least 130 metres per game, often setting the tempo early in matches, as Penrith became the first side in the NRL era to win back-to-back-to-back Premierships.

His departure leaves a gaping hole in Ivan Cleary’s side. Not only for his immense efforts on the field, propelling the side forward and striking fear into opposing attackers with his fierce defence, but also with his leadership. Fortunately for Penrith, Liam Henry and Lindsay Smith are two of the NRL’s most promising young props.

Zac Lomax

St George Illawarra Dragons to the Parramatta Eels

Rugby league’s biggest 2024 saga has finally reached its conclusion with Zac Lomax agreeing to depart the Dragons in favour of the Eels on a four-year deal beginning in 2025. Reportedly unhappy with playing on the wing for Shane Flanagan’s side, despite excelling at the position, Lomax’s Parramatta move will likely result in a return to his favoured centre role.

For the best part of 18 months, Parramatta have been searching for some X-factor in their backline. Now, they’ve got it. On his day, few NRL centres have a bag of tricks as expansive and effective as Lomax. A strong ball carrier and fantastic goalkicker, the outside back’s ability to execute an occasional exceptional flick pass is his most outstanding attribute.

A potential friction point is Lomax’s preference for right centre, a position already filled by Will Penisini in the Parramatta backline. Whether this is any more than a superficial difference that can immediately be quashed by the Eels when Lomax is in the door or something larger remains to be seen. What is certain is that either Penisini or Lomax will have to join Dylan Brown and Shaun Lane on Parrmatta’s left edge.

An additional bonus of Lomax’s arrival is his ability to play fullback, which provides the Eels with both a succession plan once age catches club captain Clint Gutherson and a contingency plan in the event their star fullback suffers injury setbacks in the coming years.

nrl 2025 signings, eels, zac lomax
Zac Lomax is enjoying a breakout 2024 season in the NRL.

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Jarome Luai

Penrith Panthers to the Wests Tigers

Finally, something’s gone right for the West Tigers. After a lengthy public pursuit of Penrith and Samoa playmaker, Jarome Luai, the star five-eighth put pen to paper on a five-year deal beginning in 2025. A crucial cog in Penrith’s three-peat side, Luai will finally step out of Nathan Cleary’s shadow and take complete control of a side, an opportunity he’s long desired.

Moving to Campbelltown provides Luai with a perfect opportunity to prove he’s more than the system player his detractors paint him to be. In Benji Marshall, he has a coach with a career closely mirroring his; an exciting, often off-the-cuff playmaker who later morphed into a disciplined, game-controlling half.

Luai will need to take a leaf from Benji’s book of playmaking maturity if he has any hope of extinguishing the immense criticism constantly levelled against him and leading the Tigers from the rugby league abyss they’ve languished in for over a decade. For the Tigers, it’s now about figuring out whether Jayden Sullivan, Latu Fainu, or someone else is Luai’s best long-term halves partner.

jarome luai
Panther’s star, Jarome Luai, has signed with the West Tigers from 2025 onwards.

Mark Nawaqanitawase

NSW Waratahs (rugby union) to the Sydney Roosters

Out goes prodigious Joseph Sua’ali’i, shoehorned in by Rugby Australia as a potential shining light in an otherwise grim domestic landscape, and in comes Mark Nawaqanitawase, the 23-year-old winger viewed as Sua’ali’i’s likely successor.

The Roosters always have a knack for doing this; losing one star and immediately finding the next. It’s unknown how the 6-foot-4 union star will fare in rugby league, but he has a history in the game, the necessary physical attributes for success, and links up with the NRL’s best organisation on a two-year deal from 2025 onward.

Marky Mark image
Roosters recruit Mark Nawaqanitawase touching down for the Wallabies on the 2022 Spring Tour.

Addin Fonua-Blake

NZ Warriors to the Cronulla Sharks

When news of Addin Fonua-Blake’s desire to leave New Zealand broke, no sane NRL club didn’t at least consider pursuing his signature. A large contract for a middle forward ruled many out of the race before it began, leaving either the West Tigers, Bulldogs, and the Dragons as AFB’s likely destination

From nowhere came Craig Fitzgibbon’s Sharks, swiftly securing the services of one of rugby league’s finest front-rowers on a four-year deal beginning in 2025.

Is the destructive middle Cronulla’s missing piece in their hunt to replicate their 2016 Premiership glory?

Check us out on socials, @onlysportsanz: Instagram | Twitter | Tik Tok

Junior Tupou

Wests Tigers to the Dolphins

Exciting young Tigers winger, Junior Tupou, will trade Campbelltown for Redcliffe in 2025 on a three-year deal that sees him join an exciting backline featuring Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Herbie Farnworth, and Jake Averrilo.

Season 2023, the winger’s breakout year, saw him make 22 appearances and cross for six tries in a largely calamitous, toothless Wests Tigers side. Whilst not a poor finisher by any means, Tupou’s most notable attribute is his destructively powerful ball-carrying which saw him average 120 metres and just shy of four tackle breaks per game.

We’ll be continuously re-visiting and updating our list as the year progresses and more 2025 signings are announced, to ensure it is fresh and accurate. Stay tuned.

Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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