RLW's 50 worst buys in NRL history


50. BRAITH ANASTA (Tigers, 2013-14)
Unwanted by the Roosters, Braith Anasta was acquired by the Tigers for the sole purpose of helping to mentor the young generation coming through at the club . . . but things certainly didn’t pan out that way. The five-eighth struggled with injury and form which limited him to just 31 games in two lacklustre seasons which saw him claim just 12 wins.

49. MOTU TONY (Broncos, 2004)
Hailed as the Broncos only major signing of 2004, Motu Tony arrived in Brisbane with big expectation after two impressive seasons with the Warriors. Unfortunately, his promising Broncos career lasted three matches.

Tony did manage two tries in his three games but after being dropped to feeder side Toowoomba in May, the 22-year-old reportedly approached the club management for a release to which they obliged.

48. BRYAN FLETCHER (Rabbitohs, 2003-05)
Bryan Fletcher was told he wasn’t in Ricky Stuart’s plans at the Roosters in 2002 and as a result was poached by local rivals Souths to captain the side on three-year deal. But Fletcher’s signing certainly didn’t bring success to the Redfern-based side.

During his three seasons the Rabbitohs picked up two wooden spoons with Fletcher leading the side to just 15 total wins for a winning percentage of just 24.4.

47. BEN ROBERTS (Eels, 2012-13)
Signed as a foil for Chris Sandow, Ben Roberts arrived at Parramatta looking to revive his career after falling out of favour at Canterbury. In his first season Roberts appeared in 19 games, scored one try and tasted victory on just five occasions and it did not get any better the following year where he managed just 18 games for four wins before being shown the door.

46. TERRY HILL (Tigers, 2000-03)
The Australian centre’s four-year stint at the newly merged Wests Tigers, who he joined from Manly, was plagued by turmoil and inconsistency. After falling out with head coach Terry Lamb in 2001, Hill asked for a release before seemingly burying the hatchet until a groin injury ruled him out of most of 2002.

Hill amassed only eight tries in 49 matches over four seasons before leaving to sign with the Rabbitohs at the end of 2003.

45. RICHARD VILLASANTI (Sharks, 2006)
The barnstorming front-rower was signed to breathe fire into a stale Sharks pack after a powerful career anchoring the Warriors scrum from 2001-2006. Villasanti became an Australian representative during his time with the Warriors but he didn’t come close to emulating that form for the Shire club.

Villasanti finished with one try from only seven games for the Sharks at a winning percentage of 14.29.

44. TONY WILLIAMS (Bulldogs, 2013-2016)
Few players have come to a club with more hype or expectation than Tony Williams when he followed Des Hasler to the Bulldogs in 2013.

The hulking second-rower came as an Origin and Australian representative but left a shadow of the man who struck fear into the hearts of opposition players at the Sea Eagles.

The fact his best footy came in his final few months was all the more frustrating for Dogs’ fans who certainly hoped for much more from the big man.> 43. TIM SMITH (Sharks, 2010-11)
He may have come back to the NRL from England on his last chance but given his early career heroics with Parramatta hopes were high that the halfback would make a splash in the Shire.

Instead, Smith made barely a ripple in an under-performing side over two seasons finishing with a win percentage of 36.84 from only 19 games.

42. LEON BOTT (Sharks, 2006)
He set the league alight in 2005, scoring 14 tries in just 25 games for the Broncos, but Leon Bott’s big mid-season move to the Sharks the following year certainly didn’t go to plan.

In fact, the fleet-footed winger could only manage one appearance for the Shire-based outfit before growing frustrated and asking for a release at season’s end.

41. JOEL MOON (Warriors, 2009-11)
Touted as a future rep star when he burst onto the scene as a teenager for the Broncos in 2006, Joel Moon was hailed a marquee signing when he penned a lucrative multi-year deal with the Warriors in 2009. Unable to hold down his preferred position of five-eighth, Moon shifted to the centres where he had varied success. And after managing just 11 games in 2011, the club and player decided to part ways.

40. Willie Peters (St George, 2001-2)
Desperate to replace the hole left by the departure of favourite son Anthony Mundine, the Red V turned to English based Aussie Willie Peters to guide their offence alongside Trent Barrett. However, the pair never really hit it off with Peters struggling with the physicality of the NRL.

The 166cm playmaker racked up 38 appearances in two seasons before moving on to join Rabbitohs in 2003.

39. JOE BURGESS (Roosters, 2016)
Burgess arrived at the Roosters with a reputation for finding the line. His 54 appearances for Super League outfit Wigan fielded a return of 52 tries, and while his strike rate in the NRL wasn’t terrible (seven tries in 13 appearances) it was his all-around game that struggled to adapt.

Despite his 195 cm frame Burgess became a target for opposing teams as he struggled to cope with the physicality in the NRL. He made four appearance for the Roosters before he was granted a release to return home at the end of the season.

He spent the remaining couple months of the season with the Rabbitohs but did little to restore his tattered reputation.

38. RICHARD SWAIN (Broncos, 2003)
The ever consistent and reliable Richard Swain was seen as the top off-season signing in 2003 after his five stellar seasons with the Storm. However, Swain’s rugged oldschool style of play out of dummy half never really took off in Queensland.

Swain managed 21 games as the Broncos limped into the finals in eighth spot before being knocked out in the opening week. Swain was released at the end of the season and joined Hull in the Super League.

37. GEORGE ROSE (Storm, 2014)
It’s no secret that Craig Bellamy has a reputation for turning average forwards into superstars. However, Rose will go down as one of Bellamy’s failed projects.

A handy prop whose good mix of size and speed proved effective at Manly, Rose never seemed to fit into Bellamy’s plans. He managed just nine first grade games before finishing 2014 with the Storm’s NSW Cup feeder.

36. JOE GALUVAO (Rabbitohs, 2006-07)
He was an integral part of the Panthers forward pack for half a decade and arrived at Redfern in 2006 with the hope of adding some much needed starch up front. But it’s safe to say the famous red-and-green didn’t agree with big Joe who managed just 23 games in two disappointing seasons.

The club released him from the final year of his contract believing his career was over, however Galuvao went on to play six more seasons with the Eels and Sea Eagles and even managed to win a second premiership in 2011.

35. MARK EDMONDSON (Roosters, 2006)
The Roosters faithful had high hopes that St Helens enforcer Mark Edmondson would develop into the next Adrian Morley . . . but boy they were wrong.

The towering forward won Challenge Cups and premierships in England but his big move to Bondi in 2006 lasted just two games. Edmondson struggled with the high intensity of the NRL and after dislocating his shoulder he was released and returned to England in what can only be described as a truly forgettable stint.

34. CARL WEBB (Eels, 2011)
The Cowboys were confident Carl Webb’s best was behind him but Parramatta thought otherwise when they offered the wrecking ball prop an enticing two-year contract in 2011.

Unfortunately for the Eels, the Cowboys proved to be right as Webb could only manage six matches before breaking down and deciding to hang up the boots for good.

33. JOSH HANNAY (Sharks, 2007)
Josh Hannay arrived at the Sharks an Origin player and left a park footballer. A pacy goalkicking centre who played 150 games for the Cowboys, Hannay was signed to Cronulla midway through 2006 by Sharks coach Stuart Raper who wanted some more pace in the backline.

However, Raper was sacked before the 2007 and new coach Ricky Stuart clearly didn’t rate Hannay who dropped the 2005 grand finalist to play with Gymea in Cronulla’s A-Grade competition after just three first grade game.

32. LEE MOSSOP (Eels, 2014)
Parramatta paid a significant transfer to Wigan to sign the 25-year-old on a two-year deal. In retrospect this proved a pretty big blunder.

Mossop missed the first half of the season recovering from a shoulder reconstruction done just before he arrived in Australia.

He ended up playing just three games for the Eels before succumbing to another season-ending shoulder injury. The former English Test prop returned to England the following year to resume his career with Wigan.

31. SAM HARRIS (Tigers, 2006)
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens signed former Waratah Harris with one idea in mind, to add some size to the Tigers’ pack.

The plan backfired massively, with the former Sea Eagles second rower barely having an impact during his five game stint with the Tigers. Harris was released from the final two years of his contract and returned to rugby union with the Waratahs in 2007.

30. CHASE STANLEY (Storm, 2010-11)
Chase Stanley was considered the next big thing when he became the youngest player to debut for St George Illawarra. However, injuries during the ensuing years limited his appearances at the Dragons.

Much was made of Stanley’s move to Melbourne in 2010 with many expecting the former Kiwi international’s career to be kick started under Craig Bellamy, but serious knee injuries limited the talented utility to just nine appearances in two seasons with the Storm.

29. BRETT WHITE (Raiders, 2011-14)
Former Test prop and Melbourne champion Brett White was expected to have a massive impact when he shifted from the Storm to the Raiders at the start of the 2011. However, while he proved an honest toiler and a good clubman at the Green Machine, the Cooma Junior didn’t rise anywhere near the high standards he set during his six-season stint down in the Victorian capital.

28. RYAN O’HARA (Tigers, 2006-08)
Like Sam Harris, former Origin prop Ryan O’Hara was recruited by then Tigers coach Tim Sheens to add some size to a relatively light weight pack. And like Harris, O’Hara proved a flop.

After chalking up 22 NRL appearances in 2006, inconsistent form and injury saw the one-time Blue play just eight NRL games across 2007 and 2008 seasons.

27. TIMANA TAHU (Panthers, 2011)
After an up and down 2010 season, Timana Tahu was confident of getting his fledging career back on track at the foot of the mountains in 2011.

Matthew Elliott and the Panthers were hoping to unleash a lethal centre pairing of Tahu and Michael Jennings, however the veteran lasted just seven matches in black after sustaining a season-ending pectoral tear. A week later, Tahu signed a new deal with the Knights.

26. SHAUN BERRIGAN (Warriors, 2011)
Former Queensland and Australia mainstay Shaun Berrigan was expected to add a bit of spark to the Warriors when he joined the club in 2011 after a three-year stint with Hull FC.

Berrigan managed 19 games for the Warriors, mainly in the centres, but was dropped from the first grade side on the eve of the finals series to make way for Lewis Brown and Krisnan Inu.

25. DENAN KEMP (Warriors, 2009)
Kemp was an overnight sensation at the Broncos, scoring 20 tries in his first 28 games with the club between 2007 and 2008, even equalling the club’s tryscoring record in an individual match.

In 2009 he moved to the Warriors but his career didn’t kick on. Denan Kemp managed just 10 NRL games before returning to the Broncos in 2010.

24. BEAU HENRY (Knights, 2011)
A junior prodigy at the Dragons, Henry was named the NYC’s player of the year in 2009. After failing to crack first grade at St George Illawarra, Henry was expected to do big things when he signed a three year deal with Newcastle in 2011.

Henry started the year well, debuting at five-eighth in Newcastle’s season opener against Penrith, but he finished the year with just six games.

When Wayne Bennett arrived at the Knights in 2012, Henry was told he was no longer needed and joined the Titans.

23. BRETT KIMMORLEY (Northern Eagles, 2001)
After winning a premiership and earning a Kangaroos call-up during his time with Melbourne, Brett Kimmorley was the marquee signing of the Northern Eagles joint venture.

Unfortunately for Kimmorley and the club it all went horribly wrong. The halfback could only steer the club to 11 wins in season 2001 before deciding to link up with former mentor Chris Anderson at Cronulla the following year.

22. DARCY LUSSICK (Eels, 2012-15)
After helping the Sea Eagles to the premiership as a devastating enforcer off the bench, Darcy Lussick was hailed as an up and coming star and an exciting recruit for Ricky Stewart’s Parramatta side in 2013.

But after three years it’s safe to say the giant forward failed to live up to expectations. During his time in Blue-and-Gold Lussick failed to secure himself a regular starting berth and managed just 53 appearances for a winning percentage of 32.1.

21. MARK O’MELEY (Roosters, 2008-09)
Arguably one of the hardest working props of his generation, Mark O’Meley signed a lucrative contract to join Sydney rivals the Roosters to form a devastating front row combination with fellow Bulldogs recruit Willie Mason.

The pair enjoyed a fairly solid debut season for the Tricolours helping them to the semi finals, with O’Meley playing 24 matches and crossing for two tries. But the following season would prove the most testing of his career, with the prop down on form and injury, taking the field just 11 times as the Roosters collected the wooden spoon.

The 2009 season would be the last time we would see O’Meley in the NRL with the Central Coast junior departing for the Super League at season’s end.

20. ADAM MACDOUGALL (Rabbitohs, 2004-06)
After seven impressive seasons and two premierships with the Knights, Adam MacDougall made the big move to Sydney to join the struggling Rabbitohs in 2004. Expectations were certainly high but the tryscoring machine never adjusted to life in the famous red-and-green.

He snapped his achilles tendon just five games in to his debut season before playing just 26 games in the corresponding two seasons. So disheartened by his time at Redfern, the veteran was fined $10,000 for criticising the club following a heavy defeat to the Tigers and was then sacked by the club mid-way through 2006.

19. JASON CAYLESS (Tigers, 2010)
A premiership winner with the Roosters, Jason Cayless was brought back from the England to provide some much needed punch and experience to the Tigers forward pack but it was clear from the get-go that the former Kiwi international was no longer up to the rigours of the NRL.

Cayless managed just three appearances in Tigers colours before injury forced him into retirement.

18. DANE NIELSEN (Warriors, 2013-14)
Dane Nielsen arrived at the Warriors as an Origin player who could add some starch to the Warriors backline. But like his Storm team-mate Todd Lowrie, Nielsen just couldn’t replicate the form he displayed under Craig Bellamy at Melbourne, managing just 30 appearances in two seasons, for a poultry return of just two tries before losing his place in the top 17.

His move to the Dragons in 2015 certainly wasn’t covered in glory either, managing just two games before being sacked for an off-field indiscretion.

17. SHANNON HEGARTY (Rabbitohs, 2005-08)
Premiership winner Shannon Hegarty joined the Rabbitohs from rivals the Roosters as coup for the Redfern-based outfit. However, it would seem the Tricolours would win out in this deal as Hegarty was a shadow of the player he was at the Roosters managing just 36 games in three seasons before the centre was released from the final year of his contract to join the Cowboys.

16. JAMAL IDRIS (Titans, 2012-13)
Dubbed one of the biggest signings of 2012, Jamal Idris was meant to launch the Titans franchise into the stratosphere both on and off the field.

The personable Idris simply couldn’t live up to the hype surrounding his big money move to Queensland with form and injury plaguing his stint on the glitter strip. The towering centre was starting to hit his straps in season two until a horrible ankle break ended his season and his time with the Titans.

15. JUSTIN POORE (Eels, 2010-12)
Fresh off a season where he debuted for NSW and helped the Dragons to the minor premiership, Justin Poore was acquired by Daniel Anderson to form a destructive front row alongside Fuifui Moimoi for the Parramatta Eels.

Unfortunately for Parramatta, Poore never came close to replicating the form which saw him capped for NSW three times the previous year and at the end of 2012 the player and club decided to cut their losses as Poore was released to join Wakefield in the Super League.

14. JOHN HOPOATE (Tigers, 2000-01)
One of the top signings at the newly formed joint venture, John Hopoate brought with him premiership experience and an impressive tryscoring record, however his time at the Wests Tigers will unfortunately be remembered for the wrong reasons.

After a disappointing return of just five tries from 23 matches, the veteran winger made national headlines when he was charged with contrary conduct for inserting his finger in the backsides of a number of players. Hopoate was suspended for 12 matches and never played another game for the Tigers.

13. GLENN STEWART (Rabbitohs, 2015)
Signed as the man to replace departing club legend Sam Burgess, premiership winner Glenn Stewart never really got going at the Rabbitohs.

Quite simply Stewart, naturally a ball-playing forward, never really fit into the Rabbitohs style of play, which was also compounded by injury. With a year to run on his contract Stewart and the Rabbitohs agreed to part ways, with the former premiership winner heading to France with Catalans.

12. DARIUS BOYD (Knights, 2012-14)
After a sensational three seasons at the Dragons, which yielded both a premiership and Clive Churchill medal, Boyd was expected to add some much needed thrust to the Knights backline when he arrived in the Hunter with long-time mentor Wayne Bennett.

However, like Bennett, Boyd’s stint with Newcastle was pretty disappointing. The Queensland star showed flashes of brilliance, but he was nowhere near as consistent as he was during his time with the Red V.

11. CRAIG WING (Rabbitohs, 2008-09)
‘Welcome home’ screamed the posters at the June 2007 press conference during which South Sydney announced the return of prodigal son Craig Wing on a four-year deal starting in 2008. Wing, a Rabbitohs junior, had won a premiership and represented both State and country during his eight season stint with the Roosters, however, his return to the Rabbitohs was largely disappointing.

Wing made just 11 appearances for Souths in 2008 after suffering a dislocated shoulder in round one. Further injuries saw Wing play just 17 more games for the Red-and-Greens in 2009, before he was released from the final two years of his contract to take up rugby union in Japan.

Bad news is Tigers managed 6 of the top 40 picks, at least Rabbits were equal, Eels had 5, Warriors and Sharks had 4.

Could we have signings in the Top 10? A quick look vs memory tells me all our bad ones are out already, except maybe Nick Graham but I can’t see how he is prominent enough to be Top 10.

When you look at our overall finals record, it isn’t a surprise. It’s an unpopular opinion, but i actually didn’t mind Ryan O’Hara. I thought his last year with us was really strong.

McCracken may get a run due to lack of games.

Jason Moodie ,Blair , John Morris ??

@happy tiger:

Jason Moodie ,Blair , John Morris ??

Morris is harsh. Gave his all and didn’t miss a game in 3 years. Wasn’t his fault he was playing out of position. Even Blair, only missed one game in 3 years.

Personally I think Hill and Hoppa are harsh. Hoppa did a decent job on the field. If being a moron off the field is grounds for being a bad signing there are others fit that bill.

Hill to me tried hard for us in what was often a very poor side. Given he played some games at lock in a low scoring team I don’t think you can judge him harshly based on his try scoring rate.

Adam Blair is going to be in the running for the top 5


@happy tiger:

Jason Moodie ,Blair , John Morris ??

Morris is harsh. Gave his all and didn’t miss a game in 3 years. Wasn’t his fault he was playing out of position. Even Blair, only missed one game in 3 years.

He missed more than one game. He may have been on the team sheet and on the field but he was clearly missing.

Adam Blair should be a special. Maybe not for lack of games played, but value for money and the fact that we released a load of players to fit him in the side. For the amount of money paid he produced next to nothing. Signed as a skillful wide playing back rower, he did not have the mobility or skills to play that role.
His best games were as a front rower, but even then there was a lack of metres, missed tackles and at least a couple of stupid penalties a game.
Looking at the list, I never realised how many bad players Sheens signed looking to boost the squad, most of whom would have been on decent contracts.

Agree with Terry Hill being on the list, slow as a wet week and paid a heap of dollars to join the JV. Likewise for Anasta poor signing and once again bad judgement by the club.

I note that Idris is also on the list for the Titans, sadly I think he will be similar for us next year.


Agree with Terry Hill being on the list, slow as a wet week and paid a heap of dollars to join the JV. Likewise for Anasta poor signing and once again bad judgement by the club.

I note that Idris is also on the list for the Titans, sadly I think he will be similar for us next year.

Think part of the criteria is the dollars paid & the expectations that the player was signed with. On both counts our signing of Idris does not match the Titans.


Agree with Terry Hill being on the list, slow as a wet week and paid a heap of dollars to join the JV. Likewise for Anasta poor signing and once again bad judgement by the club.

I note that Idris is also on the list for the Titans, sadly I think he will be similar for us next year.

I’ll be very surprised if he’s not!!

If Ballin dosent play far more often than he did last year he will make my worst 50.I cant argue with any of our players who were mentioned except Anasta should be much more prominent.

@goldcoast tiger:


Agree with Terry Hill being on the list, slow as a wet week and paid a heap of dollars to join the JV. Likewise for Anasta poor signing and once again bad judgement by the club.

I note that Idris is also on the list for the Titans, sadly I think he will be similar for us next year.

I’ll be very surprised if he’s not!!

Based on what? All indications point to him wanting to rip in. He’s essentially playing for a contract for 2018. Ridiculous already writing him off.

From 2 years ago when they ran this poll as a Top 40 we took out positions…

2. Adam Blair
11. John Hopoate
17. Jason Cayless
25. Ryan O’Hara
28. Sam Harris

So I’d imagine Blair will make the Top 10 and as far as recruitment goes deservedly so…but I would put Bwaith ahead of him …

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