Five players who must step up in 2023

26 Dec 22, 10:37AM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

As each new season commences we expect every player to do all that they can to fulfil their potential every time they set foot on a Rugby League field.

However, some players’ form this upcoming season will have a more significant impact on their team and how they are perceived externally than others.


Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker has now completed two seasons in the NRL with the club missing the top four both years.

While individually the 22-year-old has shown exceptional beyond his years at times in 2022 he found it hard to find chemistry with five-eighth Luke Keary.

In 2023 it is time for Walker to fully take the reins of the Roosters attack and show that he can be an out and out game controlling half no matter who is wearing the number six beside him because if not then the tricolours will likely miss out on a top-four finish once again.


Gold Coast Titans second-rower David Fifita joined the club in 2021 on a multi-million dollar deal but has thus far not lived up to his big contract.

At the end of 2023 his deal will be up and unless he can secure his future before next season commences then he will be playing for a contract.

If his form does not improve consistently then he will be facing a large downgrade in pay regardless of if he stays at the Titans or moves elsewhere in 2024.


Whether warranted or not Penrith Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai has faced plenty of criticism from fans and the media for his intense onfield personality but has been able to back up his arrogance with two premierships.

Next season things will be different though as in 2022 Luai’s form was not what it had been the previous two seasons and Apisai Koroisau joining the Wests Tigers leaves a big hole in Penrith’s spine.

It is time for Luai to step up individually and have more of an impact in 2023 to make up for this.


Former Parramatta Eels forward Isaiah Papalii has been the game’s best second rower over the past two seasons but in 2023 his form will arguably be more important than ever.

Not only is he joining the Wests Tigers who are reigning wooden spooners but throughout 2022 there has been speculation of him wanting to get out of his deal with the club.

If Papalii shows a drop in form next season he will instantly be ridiculed by the masses with the narrative being that he does not want to be at the Tigers which will likely cause a rift between him and the club.


Tigers half Luke Brooks has been the centre of attention at the club for so long and is now in the final year of his current deal.

He has constantly been criticised for his form compared to his yearly wage and the pressure is on him even greater in 2023 with the Tigers opting to keep him and release Jackson Hastings.

In 2023 his form must improve if he not only wants a decent salary going forward but a contract in the NRL.

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