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NRL player market set to explode in months

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017 Scott Bailey

Melbourne star Cooper Cronk headlines the competition-wide list, although he is unlikely to decide his future until mid-season. © Getty Images Melbourne star Cooper Cronk headlines the competition-wide list, although he is unlikely to decide his future until mid-season. The $15 million marquee NRL player market is full and ready to explode in the next two months.

More than 35 players with top-tier representative experience are set to come off contract at the end of this season, with the majority expected to be signed in the coming months.

Players with a combined 218 Origin matches and 443 Tests for either Australia, New Zealand or England are up for grabs.

While some are expected to re-sign quietly with their current clubs, player managers expect any one movement to trigger a domino effect in the coming weeks.

Melbourne star Cooper Cronk headlines the competition-wide list, although he is unlikely to decide his future until mid-season.

More prominently, the big four at Wests Tigers hold a number of the cards.

It's expected that once the likes of James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses decide their futures, other clubs - or the Tigers - could scramble to fill the gaps.

The general advice for other players is to hold on and watch their value rise.

Player managers say the mass-market was set seasons ago when a change in the salary cap was eyed for the end of the year.

The figure for next year is yet to be set, but the contract stand-off can only last so long.

Decisions are also likely to be made on each club's mid-range players in that time period.

It's generally expected that after the first two months of a season coaches begin to eye what combinations are working, and what's not, before they begin to make moves.

And there's plenty for them on the market.

Eleven first-choice playmakers are available, while Josh Dugan and James Tedesco top a list of fullbacks considering their options.

Jarryd Hayne could also become available. While technically still contracted at the Gold Coast, he has an option in his favour to either activate the final year of his deal or test the local and international market.

Even the likes of Billy Slater and Paul Gallen, who could retire at the end of this season, could play into the matter once they decide their future.

While it's unlikely either Melbourne or Cronulla will pay overs in a desperate dash at success, their pulling power could leave other clubs short, and willing to spend big.

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