As the 2019 regular season draws to a close with the finals a little over a month away, which player has been the best recruit of the year? NRL.com's experts have had their say.
NRL.com's experts view
Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)
My buy of the year would have to be John Bateman. With a steady flow of Poms reaching our shores he's been the Best Buy for money! Very talented player has had a great impact the Raiders.
Brett Kimmorley (Former NSW halfback)
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. He has found a new home at his third club after chasing the dream. With Billy Slater and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, he's had some good people to learn off. Now he's taken his opportunity with both hands and is really consistent every week. He has become an invaluable part of the team. His strength at fullback has allowed Jack Wighton to stay at five-eighth.
Jamie Soward (Former NSW five-eighth)
John Bateman has brought toughness to Canberra and he's got a great footy brain which is under-rated. He's a massive competitor which fits in perfectly into coach Ricky Stuart's set-up.
Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)
I can't go past John Bateman. He came to the NRL with plenty of hype after being shortlisted for the Super League's Man of Steel award last year, but unlike former winners Sam Tomkins and Zak Hardaker, he has lived up to and exceeded expectation. Bateman has brought a hard edge to the Raiders who are the second best defensive team in the NRL. Ricky Stuart has nailed his recruitment drive in 2019 with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad a close second in the buy of the year stakes.
Brett Keeble (NRL.com reporter)
Apart from having the coolest name in the NRL, and perhaps the only player of Norwegian heritage, Canberra fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad shines brighter than the Northern Lights as the buy of the year. Unable to break into the Warriors' NRL squad, he was given a chance at the Raiders this season and grabbed it by the horns.
Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)
Reuben Garrick. Not wanted at the Dragons and brought to Manly as back-up for the outside backs – and he ends up scoring the most tries so far this year for his team and has taken over goal-kicking from Daly Cherry-Evans. His leap, catch, put-down last weekend against the Knights (his 13th try in 19 games) says it all.
Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)
While it was temping to nominate Blake Ferguson for revitalising the Eels' back line and transforming them into something like the team they were when Semi Radradra was running riot, it's hard to go past Canberra's sharp recruiting. The Green Machine have the two best buys of the year - it's impossible to split Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and John Bateman. The rugged Englishman's relentless competitiveness and the young Kiwi's earnest professionalism have transformed the Green Machine from talented but fragile also-rans to serious premiership contenders.
Jonathan Healy (NRL.com reporter)
Englishman John Bateman has been a revelation for the Raiders this season and his performances alone have helped the Green Machine push towards a top four finish. Don't be surprised to see a few other teams look to recruit a few players from the northern hemisphere in the off-season.
Jason Wolfgram (NRL.com reporter)
Ethan Lowe is my buy of the year. Since joining the Rabbitohs he's taken his game to another level in both attack and defence. He's a reliable, consistent and hard-working player. The Cowboys loss, is the Rabbitohs gain.
Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)
Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is easily the best buy of the year considering his value. For the bargain-basement price the club paid to take him off the Warriors' hands, the 24-year-old has performed incredibly so far this season and become a key man for the Green Machine.
Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)
Ryan Matterson has been a great pick-up for the Wests Tigers, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Reuben Garrick are the bargain buys of the season but John Bateman has been spectacular for Canberra. He's given them much-needed extra steel in defence and creativity in attack on the edges. George Williams has got a lot to live up to next year when he joins the Raiders after their recent success in sterling English recruits.
Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)
The Canberra Raiders have transformed this year and a big part of that is John Bateman and his aggression in defence and twinkle-toe feet in attack. Thanks to the likes of Bateman, the Raiders are serious contenders for the title this year.
Scott Hazlewood (NRL.com reporter)
John Bateman is up there for sure but in my mind it's Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. He puts his body on the line and his work coming out of danger is superb. Also his form has allowed Jack Wighton to have an extended stint in his new role, allowing the Raiders to roll on to a possible top four spot.
Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. As far as value for money and exceeding expectations go, the Kiwi kid takes the cake. Moved across from NZ as a likely back-up at fullback, and is now only just behind the truly elite No.1s for form in 2019 with 10 tries, 83 tackle busts and 177 metres a game. The Raiders are negotiating a well-deserved upgrade, but are getting outstanding bang for their buck in the meantime with Nicoll-Klokstad earning a quarter of what some of the NRL's best fullbacks pull in.
Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)
John Bateman has been the buy of the year. His inclusion has been instrumental for the Raiders who are looking really strong in the lead up to finals. He may not be the biggest forward in the pack but it doesn't stop the second-rower from racking up some impressive stats on a regular basis.
Lone Scout (NRL Fantasy expert)
The correct answer is John Bateman but I'll give a shout out to Wests Tigers forward Ryan Matterson. Released by the Roosters after that club splashed out on Origin second-rower Angus Crichton, Matterson has stepped up a level at the Tigers and is now ahead of Crichton in the Blues' pecking order. Capable of playing as an edge forward, at lock or at five-eighth, Matterson hasn't transformed the Tigers into world-beaters just yet but will be a key cog if they can become a consistent top-eight side in the next few seasons.
Tony Webeck (NRL.com reporter)
Whether he was the final piece of the puzzle or the deciding factor in a tougher Canberra Raiders outfit the addition of John Bateman has elevated the Green Machine into elite company. From his opening outing against the Titans it was obvious Bateman would revel in the NRL physicality and he sets a tone that his Raiders teammates have picked up and carried with them toward September. The ferociousness that the flashy Raiders needed to become genuine contenders.
Corey Rosser (NRL.com reporter)
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. While he was always a highly-rated prospect at the Warriors, few could have predicted CNK would go on to become one the competition's better fullbacks this year. Getting this man in a green jersey was a shrewd piece of business from Ricky Stuart and co.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.