Which clubs will rise or fall in the 2018 NRL season?

AAP's Steve Zemek looks at all 16 clubs, outlining their key arrivals and significant departures to determine where they will finish at the conclusion of next season.

New Zealand Warriors

Could new stars like Tohu Harris bring change to an under-performing Warriors outfit? Photo / Photosport.
Could new stars like Tohu Harris bring change to an under-performing Warriors outfit? Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

Adam Blair, Blake Green, Tohu Harris, Gerard Beale

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Key outs: Kieran Foran, Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Bodene Thompson

2017 Finish: 13th

Verdict: Like every year, they look good on paper but are almost certain to disappoint again.

Brisbane Broncos

New Brisbane signing Jack Bird in action for New South Wales. Photo / Photosport.
New Brisbane signing Jack Bird in action for New South Wales. Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

Jack Bird, Matt Lodge

Key outs: Ben Hunt, Adam Blair, Benji Marshall, Tautau Moga

2017 finish: 3rd, preliminary final

Verdict: Bird will add a new dimension and they have some good young forwards. Halves and hooker depth is a big problem and could slide out of the top eight.

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Canberra Raiders

Josh Hodgson's injury will be a significant blow for the Raiders in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.
Josh Hodgson's injury will be a significant blow for the Raiders in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Craig Garvey, Siliva Havili

Key outs: Lachlan Croker

2017 finish: 10th

Verdict: Not much change to their roster. Underperformed in 2017. Hard to see them making the finals with Josh Hodgson (ACL) out for most of the year.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Former Warriors star Kieran Foran will link up with the Bulldogs in 2018. Photo / Photosport.
Former Warriors star Kieran Foran will link up with the Bulldogs in 2018. Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

Kieran Foran, Aaron Woods, Nu Brown

Key outs: Josh Reynolds, James Graham, Sam Kasiano

2017 finish: 11th

Verdict: A new coach and some marquee recruits. Dean Pay was known as one of the game's toughest competitors in his day and expect the side's style to mirror that. Will be there or thereabouts come finals time.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

Will the ageing Paul Gallen have enough left in him to help steer the Sharks to the play-offs? Photo / Getty Images.
Will the ageing Paul Gallen have enough left in him to help steer the Sharks to the play-offs? Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan, Aaron Gray

Key outs: James Maloney, Chris Heighington, Jeremy Latimore

2017 finish: 5th, elimination final

Verdict: Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen are both getting on. But has the Sharks' premiership window closed? A lot hinges on Moylan.

Gold Coast Titans

The departure of Jarryd Hayne will add to the struggling Gold Coast's woes. Photo / Getty Images.
The departure of Jarryd Hayne will add to the struggling Gold Coast's woes. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Michael Gordon, Leilani Latu, Jai Arrow

Key outs: Jarryd Hayne, Tyrone Roberts, Chris McQueen

2017 finish: 15th

Verdict: Came second last this year and could cop the wooden spoon in 2018. A big test for Garth Brennan in his first year as an NRL coach.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Daly Cherry-Evans will be instrumental in the Sea Eagles' chances in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.
Daly Cherry-Evans will be instrumental in the Sea Eagles' chances in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Lachlan Croker, Kelepi Tanginoa

Key outs: Blake Green, Brenton Lawrence

2017 finish: 6th, elimination final

Verdict: If Manly are to be serious contenders it's all going to come down to Daly Cherry-Evans. Have the squad to make the top eight once again after being one of the surprise packets of 2017.

Melbourne Storm

Expect the reigning champions to put up a stern challenge to retain their title next year. Photo / Getty Images.
Expect the reigning champions to put up a stern challenge to retain their title next year. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Ryan Hoffman, Sam Kasiano

Key outs: Cooper Cronk, Jordan McLean, Tohu Harris

2017 finish: 1st, premiers

Verdict: Never write off a champion side. Brodie Croft faces a massive learning curve stepping into Cooper Cronk's shoes. They will still expect to go deep into September.

Newcastle Knights

The Knights will be expected to improve significantly with key signings such as Mitchell Pearce. Photo / Getty Images.
The Knights will be expected to improve significantly with key signings such as Mitchell Pearce. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson, Jacob Lillyman

Key outs: Dane Gagai, Rory Kostjasyn

2017 finish: 16th

Verdict: Will be the big improvers. They've recruited nicely but it's hard to know if they can make the top eight next year. Certainly have the squad for it but how quickly can they come together?

North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys will want to send veteran playmaker Johnathan Thurston out on a high note. Photo / Getty Images.
The Cowboys will want to send veteran playmaker Johnathan Thurston out on a high note. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Jordan McLean

Key outs: Kalyn Ponga, Ray Thompson

2017 finish: 8th, losing grand finalists

Verdict: Undoubtedly one of the teams to beat. Michael Morgan has gone to another level. Will want to play for Johnathan Thurston in his final year.

Parramatta Eels

Semi Radradra's absence will be felt by Parramatta next season. Photo / Photosport.
Semi Radradra's absence will be felt by Parramatta next season. Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

Jarryd Hayne, Kane Evans

Key outs: Semi Radradra

2017 finish: 4th, semi-finals

Verdict: Enjoyed a wonderful 2017 but were too inconsistent all year. This will be a focus for tough-as-teak coach Brad Arthur. Whether they can get the best out of Hayne will decide how high they can go.

Penrith Panthers

Kangaroos playmaker James Maloney is a fantastic acquisition for Penrith. Photo / Photosport.
Kangaroos playmaker James Maloney is a fantastic acquisition for Penrith. Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

James Maloney

Key outs: Matt Moylan, Peta Hiku, Leilani Latu

2017 finish: 7th, semi-finals

Verdict: After making the finals in 2017, hopes will be high at the foot of the mountains. Maloney shapes as a great fit who should lift the club even higher. Should make the eight.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Greg Inglis wil once again be vital to the Rabbitohs' NRL chances next year. Photo / Getty Images.
Greg Inglis wil once again be vital to the Rabbitohs' NRL chances next year. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Dane Gagai

Key outs: Bryson Goodwin, Aaron Gray

2017 finish: 12th

Verdict: Greg Inglis is back but can he get back to his best? Souths were woeful at times last year. Can untested coach Anthony Seibold get the squad to buy in?

St George Illawarra Dragons

Former Broncos halfback Ben Hunt will form half of a formidable looking halves pairing with English five-eighth Gareth Widdop. Photo / Getty Images.
Former Broncos halfback Ben Hunt will form half of a formidable looking halves pairing with English five-eighth Gareth Widdop. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Ben Hunt, James Graham, Jeremy Latimore

Key outs: Russell Packer, Josh Dugan, Mose Masoe

2017 finish: 9th

Verdict: It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for the Dragons in the back half of the season. Hunt and Gareth Widdop shape as a dynamic halves pairing capable of carrying them well into the finals.

Sydney Roosters

The signing of former Melbourne star Cooper Cronk makes the Roosters title favourites in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.
The signing of former Melbourne star Cooper Cronk makes the Roosters title favourites in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.

Key ins:

Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco, Reece Robinson

Key outs: Mitchell Pearce, Kane Evans, Michael Gordon, Connor Watson

2017 finish: 2nd, preliminary final

Verdict: Cronk. Tedesco. Enough said. Are title favourites with the bookies and will be deadset contenders. Chairman Nick Politis has shelled out big money and will expect a premiership.

Wests Tigers

Fan favourite Benji Marshall will play for the Tigers for the first time since 2013 next year. Photo / Photosport.
Fan favourite Benji Marshall will play for the Tigers for the first time since 2013 next year. Photo / Photosport.

Key ins:

Josh Reynolds, Benji Marshall, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer

Key outs: Aaron Woods, James Tedesco

2017 finish: 13th

Verdict: Ivan Cleary has proven himself a great coach but has he been able to put together a squad capable of making the eight? They look short a couple of good forwards and classy outside backs.