The List: The Third Annual Top 50 List

Filed in From The Couch, NRL, Other, Top 50 by on December 11, 2010

Rugby league fans should take note: this is the most definitive list in ordering rugby league talent anywhere. No other publication will lay it out so explicitly and no other writer will delve so deep. No punches are pulled and no feelings are spared. These are the top 50 players from 2010 in order of contribution, importance and ability.

Some big players have missed out. Brett Kimmorley, Ben Hannant, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston have fallen from the top ten all the way out of the top fifty. Kimmorley’s form took a sharp turn south this year while Hannant’s season was hampered by injury. Greg Inglis turned up overweight this year and did very little for the Storm while Thurston couldn’t lift the Cowboys off the bottom of the table. Anthony Watmough, Ben Creagh, Zeb Taia, Michael Ennis, Josh Morris and Michael Jennings were other high profile casualties to drop out. This isn’t a list that panders to the stars and gushes over reputations. This is a list based on what gets done on the football field and nothing else.

Here, for 2010, is The List.

Note: The numbers in brackets are each player’s rankings from 2009 and 2008 while “*” indicates that the player did not play that season.

  1. Scott Prince (6, 7): Prince’s consistency is remarkable and after Prince ranked #7 in 2008 and #6 in 2009 he is most deserving of being given the mantle of top player in the game in 2010. Prince is the purest halfback in the competition and where Thurston has his spurts of brilliance, he also goes missing as he did for most of 2010. That never happens with Prince, who again hit 20-plus try assists with Prince reaching the milestone every year he has been at the Titans and five of the last six seasons. Prince led the Titans with aplomb, guiding them to another top four berth and now a preliminary final after battling through a shoulder injury. His kicking game has again been spectacular for the most part though there was a period where it was a little off. He has the most dangerous short kicking game in the NRL and he uses it to great effectiveness. His decimation of Parramatta in round 22 was up there with the top performance of the year while he was again the leading figure in guiding the Titans to their first ever finals victory against the Warriors. There is no better man to guide a team around the park and if fit he will be the leading contender to replace Thurston in the Australian team.
  2. Josh Dugan (47, *): The fact Josh Dugan didn’t finish in the top 10 in Dally M Medal voting shows how stupid the voting panel is. Dugan, in his first full season, led the NRL in tackle breaks with an astonishing 192 in 23 games. No other player has broken 165. Dugan has it all and he showed it this year. He is the best kick returner in the NRL with his elusiveness unseen since Brett Mullins. He is a key component in the Raiders attack with Dugan scoring 13 tries and setting up a further 10 with Dugan essentially playing as a third roving half/centre position pending on the situation. Only Paul Gallen and Jarryd Hayne averaged more metres per match. He again showed tremendous courage in defence. Dugan was named man of the match in the City-Country match and he could well have saved the NSW Origin team had the selectors had the courage and sense to pick him over Hayne. He is on the verge of breaking out with a season that will elevate him to a Billy Slater-like level. The rise of the Raiders in 2010 has come on the back of Dugan’s form. He is a smart and dangerous fullback who is going to be the best player in the NRL in the next few years.
  3. Todd Carney (*, -): There has arguably been no greater story of redemption in rugby league history with Todd Carney rising from a year long suspension to claim the Dally M Medal and have the Roosters on the precipice of their first Grand Final appearance since 2004. Despite being tried at fullback for most of the first half of the year, Carney has been in rare form all season. When moved to five-eighth, he has been close to the most dangerous half in the NRL. He has an amazing 32 combined tries/try assists and has been equally dangerous running, kicking and passing. He has proved himself a game breaker with Carney single-handedly pulling the Roosters back into their semi-final against the Wests Tigers while his goal-kicking was wonderful. The most remarkable aspect of Carney’s season has been his consistency: he had a try assist in 11 of his 17 matches in the halves and he had only six matches all year where he didn’t either score or lay one on. He has a brilliant kicking game with his boot one of the longest in the competition while he can spark the Roosters into action with a moment of individual brilliance. He will likely be called into the Australian team, such has been his form.
  4. Robbie Farah (10, 24): Farah was again terrific in 2010 and it was yet another mark against the New South Wales selectors that they persistently overlooked Farah for Michael Ennis. Farah was by almost any measure the most effectively creative hooker in the game with Farah ranking 2nd in the NRL in try assists with 25 in 24 games. His combination with Benji Marshall is one of the best hooker-half combinations of the last twenty years and is critical to the Tigers success. His kicking game and defensive workload also should not be underestimated with Farah kicking 3 40/20’s and ranking 13th in kicking distance, which is outstanding as he often kicks from dummy half. For the third time in four years Farah has finished in the top four of Dally M Medal voting and once again he is the best player in one of the most important positions.
  5. Paul Gallen (19, 6): Gallen has consistently been a top 20 player over the three years of this list but 2010 has undoubtedly been his best season despite playing on an ordinary team. Somehow Gallen’s workload increased this year with the Cronulla lock averaging an astonishing 176.3 metres per game, more than any other player in the NRL and an unbelievable 37 metres more per match than the second top forward. Gallen is also involved in everything defensively, making 34.6 tackles a match, 14th in the NRL. His 67 offloads ranked 2nd in the NRL while he led Cronulla in line break assists and all Sharks forwards in tackle breaks. He is the Sharks spiritual leader, their backbone, their most dangerous weapon and their most reliable player. The Sharks would not win half as many matches if it weren’t for Gallen. Even his grubby behaviour has, for the most part, been eliminated this year with Gallen’s discipline much improved. Gallen was the best big forward throughout 2010. It is just a shame that it was masked by the fact he plays for such a horrible team.
  6. Darius Boyd (-, -): Darius Boyd has gone from a fair winger to an elite fullback in the space of two years with his move to the Dragons unleashing his wonderful playmaking ability. The lasting image of the Dragons attack in 2010 has been the second man loop down the left hand side where Hornby goes behind Creagh to find Boyd, who usually draws the winger and puts Brett Morris over. Boyd led the Dally M Medal for a good portion of the season and ended up finishing third while claiming Dally M Fullback of the Year. Boyd also won the RLPA Player of the Year. Boyd led all fullbacks with 17 try assists while his 144 tackle breaks ranked 4th in the NRL. He was a dangerous kick returner, key playmaker and safe custodian who have come from the clouds to prove himself as one of the best players in the game.
  7. Gareth Ellis (34, *): Ellis went from a very good debut season in Australia to an outstanding second season where his ball running now matches his sturdy defence making him one of the most complete forwards in the NRL. This square-jawed Brit was a monster for the Tigers this year and is the spiritual leader of a top class pack. Ellis has essentially been an 80 minute player whose physicality has allowed the Tigers pack to dominate. He can lay a big shot on but more importantly he is up off the line quickly to drive the opposition back time after time. The Tigers moved up to the 4th best defensive unit thanks primarily to the attitude change brought about by Ellis. His improved attack has also been critical to the Tigers success this year. Ellis has started running better lines and his never say die ethos has netted him 6 tries. The attitude he brings to the Tigers was no better exhibited than in his performance against the Roosters where he crossed the line three times in the opening 20 minutes and then played through a tough injury. Ellis is one of the great warriors in the NRL.
  8. Jamie Lyon (31, 25): Nearly single-handedly, Jamie Lyon dragged Manly into the finals this season. He was, by a significant margin, Manly’s best player and can rightfully be considered Manly’s best playmaker and best finisher. He had double figure tries and try assists and has the safest pair of hands at the club. Lyon formed a lethal combination down the right side with Tony Williams, helping the big winger come along in leaps and bounds. As the rest of the Eagles fell around him to injury and suspension, Lyon remained a constant whose quality won Manly a number of close matches including a stellar performance against Melbourne in round 22 where he scored a double and laid on another try.
  9. Jamie Soward (1, -): Soward certainly didn’t have the same year he had in 2009 where he had 27 try assists and 12 tries but he wasn’t far off despite his numbers dropping to 12 try assists and 6 tries. Soward took a backseat to Darius Boyd in terms of the final pass this year but that didn’t mean he was any less involved as his long kicking game was the best in the league again while his short kicks were as dangerous as anybody in the NRL. He didn’t run the ball as often as he should have but when he did he was electrifying with more tackle breaks than all halves outside of Todd Carney and Benji Marshall. His passing game was again top class and he was unlucky not to play Origin again as selectors again bought into the bollocks that his defence was a problem. Soward is the ultimate team player and has done everything asked of him this season.
  10. Luke Lewis (29, -): Lewis was lucky to be awarded the Dally M Lock of the Year but there is no doubt he had a brilliant year and was Penrith’s best. Lewis was not only menacing in defence and a handful with the ball, he laid on 17 tries and scored 5 himself while breaking 70 tackles. Lewis is that special kind of player who puts defences in two minds because he can run, pass and kick with equal ability. He continues to improve every season.
  11. David Shillington (-, -): David Shillington is arguably the most improved forward in the NRL with the big Raiders prop establishing himself as second behind only Petero Civoniceva in the Queensland pecking order. After a season where he averaged 121.2 metres per game (4th among props), Shillington was awarded the Meninga Medal for Canberra’s best player. The most impressive part of Shillington’s game was his ability to bend the opposition defence and get Canberra going forward. He is now the leader of one of the biggest and most impressive packs in the NRL and shapes as the best prop of the post Price-Civoniceva generation.
  12. Billy Slater (4, 3): Billy the Kid had another outstanding season in what is becoming one of the most exciting careers in rugby league history. Under tough circumstances, Slater scored 10 tries and set up 12 more in 22 games while winning the Rep Player of the Year Dally M. His errors were up and his running game down but he remains one of the most lethal runners in the game and with the Storm back in contention next year his game should reach the same levels as in 2008-09 when he was a top five player.
  13. Kurt Gidley (23, 1): Kurt Gidley is such a wonderfully versatile talent that some of his qualities are often taken for granted. One of those qualities often forgotten about are his leadership. Gidley sadly lost the Blues captaincy this year but was deserving of consideration for captain of the year after taking the Knights to 10 wins, a remarkable overachievement after their preseason. Gidley again led from the front despite missing the start of the season with injury. Gidley ran for 155-plus metres in 6 of his 9 matches at fullback before he shifted to halfback for the good of the team with Gidley laying on a try assists in 4 of his 7 matches in the seven jersey. He is a dangerous ball runner, an elite kick returner, a wonderful playmaker and a top level dummy half and is Newcastle’s best fullback, half and hooker. Few players have either his versatility or his heart.
  14. Benji Marshall (15, -): While Benji’s ranking did not increase significantly this year, Marshall was much improved in 2010 with the livewire five-eighth showing a great deal more poise and consideration this year than in seasons past. There were still signs of impetuousness but they were fewer and farther between in 2010. Marshall had a combined 35 tries/try assists in 2010, the highest in the NRL, while his running game improved markedly with his tackle breaks rising by nearly 25%. His in-play kicking was also outstanding. The only criticisms of him were for his poor goal-kicking and his high number of handling errors. Fans, coaches and punters alike can live with those downfalls though because Benji is a legitimate match-winner whose maturation in 2010 has led the Tigers to within a game of the Grand Final.
  15. Nathan Friend (40, 32): Friend averaged 40-plus tackles for the third straight season and kept the middle of the Titans line as safe as any middle in the competition but his big improvement came in attack. Friend was sharper out of dummy half this season and as such got the Titans playing off the front foot more often. He was unlucky not to be called in as Cameron Smith’s replacement in Origin I and his importance to the Titans should not be underestimated.
  16. Nate Myles (-, -): Myles has always exhibited plenty of promise but he finally put that together this year in what was a crossroads season for the Roosters big bopper. Myles opted to get off the drink, lose weight and give it his all. It paid off with Myles having his best season and by quite a way. While the likes of Carney, Pearce and Kenny-Dowall have copped the credit for the Roosters rise from the bottom of the ladder, it is Myles who has led a fairly ordinary forward pack forward. Myles averaged 104.5 metres and 31.7 tackles per game while his minutes per game went from 51 in 2008 to 54 in 2009 to 62 this season. His passion for the game has also been on display with his try saving hustle to chase down Nathan Merritt one of the most unforgettable plays of the year.
  17. Sam Thaiday (37, 41): After reportedly giving up the gaspers this year, Thaiday emerged as arguably the most destructive ball running second rower. He had a brilliant first three-quarters of the season with Thaiday making 140-plus metres in six matches including twice against the Dragons, once against Melbourne and once against the Roosters suggesting he is a big match performer. Thaiday also had a wonderful Origin series. His form tailed off over the last five weeks of the season, which counts against him, but there is no doubt that on his day there are few more fearsome or effective backrowers in the game.
  18. Nathan Hindmarsh (12, 13): Nathan Hindmarsh is an absolute marvel and if you could make one bet with your life every year it would be that Hindmarsh’s performances will not slip. Nathan Hindmarsh is the ultimate professional. He seems like he can play forever. For the fifth straight season and for the sixth year in the last seven, Hindmarsh ranked in the top two in average tackles, again averaging over 40 a match with 45.3 tackles made per game. Hindmarsh was mercifully recalled for Origin this year but was then disgracefully dropped despite being the Blues best in game two. Nathan Hindmarsh is the type of player you build a team around and despite playing for a club I loathe I respect few players as much as the big assed Eels second-rower.
  19. Issac Luke (-, -): The South Sydney hooker had an outstanding start to 2010, thriving under John Lang after being horrendously misused by Jason Taylor. There was no more dangerous hooker out of dummy half with Luke a clear leader in hooker metres with 130.5 per match (Robbie Farah was second at 66.3, to highlight Luke’s dominance) and hooker tackle breaks with 95 (Farah was second with 61). He also led all hookers with offloads. He was the spark that made Souths the second most dangerous attack in the NRL. Luke had a career year and can improve in 2011 if he avoids injury and suspension, both of which hurt him towards the back end of 2010.
  20. Lachlan Coote (-, -): It is such a shame that Lachlan Coote went down with the dreaded osteitis pubis in the backend of the season as he was Penrith’s best through the first half of 2010 and would have been right in the chase for the Dally M Medal. Coote was electric from the back and topped Penrith’s try tally with 17 from 20 games, a pretty solid effort when Michael Jennings and Michael Gordon played full seasons. Coote was safe at the back and the key player in attack. He is one of the best young fullbacks in an era when there are plenty of talented young custodians.
  21. Anthony Laffranchi (21, 2): Anthony Laffranchi was unfairly made a scapegoat by Blues selectors last season but his on-field performances were again exceptional throughout all of 2010. He has an immense appetite for work averaging 107.1 metres on 13.8 runs and 32.2 tackles a match. Laffranchi also managed 7 tries for the third time in four seasons at the Gold Coast. Laffranchi is a dangerous fringe runner who defends like a prop and is willing to do the hard yards up the middle. There are few tougher players in the NRL and he will hopefully be rewarded with a rep recall in the very near future.
  22. Kevin Kingston (-, -): Kevin Kingston was one of the top recruits of 2010 and rates as one of the most underrated players in the NRL. Just look at where he has been. Despite playing only a minor role at the Sharks in 2008, they went on to a preliminary final before Kingston played a key part in the Eels run to the 2009 Grand Final. He was this year one of the key figures in Penrith’s first finals appearance since 2004. He had a very good defensive year but most importantly he had Penrith playing off the front foot with some sharp dummy half work. Kingston sits on the level below only Smith, Luke, Friend and Farah in terms of class among hookers.
  23. Akuila Uate (-, -): Akuila Uate is the most dangerous winger in the competition which is a fair piece of praise with Manu Vatuvei and Brett Morris running around. In his first full season of first grade, Uate topped the try scoring tally with 21 tries from 24 matches including three scintillating hat-tricks. Defenders could give Uate no room and he could still break free and score from anywhere on the field. He is up there with the fastest players in the NRL and could well be the fastest. He also led all wingers in average metres with 139.5 per game while he ranked 6th in tackle breaks. Uate is a superstar and has as good a season as any winger in the last decade.
  24. Mitchell Pearce (-, -): Pearce started the season well and has finished it in fine form with a fairly solid middle to round out a quality year. In a team full of playmakers, Pearce still managed 16 try assists to go with 9 tries. He was the Roosters leading kicker and his direction helped bring together the firepower. He was rightly rewarded with an Origin jersey this season and was a primary reason the Roosters have gone from last to a preliminary final berth.
  25. Michael Weyman (-, -): Horse again pushed the Dragons forward with his fearless and effective running and his penchant for big hits. His numbers have been down a little due to a nagging groin injury but there is no doubt he has been among the top prop forwards in the NRL when fit and firing. Most impressive about Weyman has been his ability to break tackles which has laid the platform for the likes of Darius Boyd and Jamie Soward.
  26. Luke Bailey (32, -): Playing his first (mostly) injury free season since 2005, Bailey has been an outstanding leader for the Titans this year. 2010 has been Bailey’s best season since 2007 with the burly prop averaging 126.3 metres and 31 tackles a match. The Titans pack have the second best go forward in the game and Bailey is the leader of said pack. Retiring from rep footy has helped his focus.
  27. Darren Lockyer (50, 31): Darren Lockyer may be 33 years old but he is arguably as important now to the Broncos than he ever has been. Despite captaining Brisbane to their first non-finals finish since 1991, Lockyer again had an outstanding year where he scored 4 tries and had 11 try assists. Statistics, as have always been the case, don’t tell the full story for Darren Lockyer though. The performance of the Broncos with him in the side provide a more accurate tale of his importance. The Broncos went 10-8 with Lockyer on the paddock and were primed for a finals berth in round 22 when Lockyer went down hurt. They ended up losing their final four and missed the playoffs. Aside from another stellar season with the Broncos, Lockyer had an outstanding Origin series where he was close to Queensland’s best. Lockyer remains one of the game’s best players and one of the few elite five-eighths remaining.
  28. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (-, -): Moving Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the centres was a stroke of genius from new Roosters coach Brian Smith with Kenny-Dowall having a super season. Kenny-Dowall was the most dangerous of the Roosters outside backs, scoring 20 tries and leading all centres in metres per match with 130.1. He also finished behind only Josh Dugan in tackle breaks with 162 in 26 matches. His best match was his 4 try, 220 metre, 9 tackle break performance against Brisbane that was absolutely scintillating. The only disappointing aspect of his season was his ability to turn in an absolute stinker, which he did on three or four occasions.
  29. Corey Parker (25, -): Corey Parker leads the Broncos in points, average tackles, average runs and offloads and ranks top three at the club in tackle breaks, average metres and try assists. Parker is Brisbane’s everywhere man. There is nothing he doesn’t bring to the table. He is a tough defender and creative ball playing backrower who is accurate with his boot and smart with ball in hand. The Broncos would have finished near the bottom of the ladder if Corey Parker had of been out for an extended period.
  30. Terry Campese (41, 11): Campese got off to a disappointing start in 2010 but came good midway through the season and was arguably the form five-eighth over the back half of the year. Campese had try assists in only 3 of the Raiders opening 13 games but had try assists in 7 of the last 11 Raiders matches. Campese averaged only 4.75 runs per game over the first half of the year while over the back half he ran the ball 7.93 times per match. His decision to run the ball was in direct correlation with the Raiders successful run to the finals and his knee injury in the Raiders final against the Tigers was the turning point in stopping the Raiders comeback. At his best he is a devastating player and he found that form over the back half of 2010.
  31. Kade Snowden (-, -): Snowden matched and surpassed teammate Luke Douglas this season for the top workhorse prop who is underrated by all and sundry.
    Unlike Douglas, however, Snowden got his chance in Origin and performed admirably. Snowden’s workrate was again top class with the bookend making 28.7 tackles and 113.7 metres per game while his 72 tackle breaks were far and away the most of any prop in the NRL (Matthew Scott was second with 49). Few props are as effective on both sides of the ball as Snowden


  32. Michael Gordon (-, -): The Penrith winger/fullback burst from the clouds this season and was rewarded with an Origin jersey and a push for his inclusion in the Four Nations Australian team. Gordon topped the point scoring list this season and broke Penrith’s all-time single match record with a 30-point haul against Souths but Gordon was more than just a goal-kicker/finisher. He was explosive on kick returns and was prone to moments of individual brilliance. Gordon was one of only 20 players to break 100 tackles and his incisive attack was a key to Penrith’s success in 2010.
  33. Sam Burgess (*, *): Burgess made a big impact in his debut season and was without doubt Souths best forward. He played outstanding minutes for an impact forward, going 69.5 minutes per game which resulted in 126.5 metres and 27.9 tackles a match. He went hard and led from the front in every match as his teammates fell around him. An underestimated aspect of his game is his attack with his 44 offloads (6th in the NRL) providing Souths with plenty of second phase play.
  34. Cooper Cronk (42, 12): Cronk’s form throughout 2010 has been tough to gauge. He ranked 5th in try assists, his handling errors were down and he made his Origin debut but with nothing to play for it is tough to garner how well he was going against the best. He is an elite halfback who was one of Melbourne’s best and his position on this list, like Smith’s, is more a reflection on the Storm salary cap scandal than any personal fall from grace.
  35. David Stagg (5, -): Despite a horrible 2010 for Canterbury, Stagg continued to perform at an elite level. Stagg led the NRL in average tackles at 46.2 per game despite having his minutes absurdly cut throughout the middle of the season and he was always the first to dive on a loose ball or the first to pressure a kicker in every match he played. His attack was down a little but that was more a reflection of the overall Canterbury attack being down. Stagg was again absurdly overlooked for Origin but his motor suggests a Queensland position cannot be far away.
  36. Matt Gillett (*, *): Gillett looked like a first grader in his debut match against North Queensland and by the time Origin rolled around he was being talked about as a bolter. Despite being shifted about from the backrow to centre to five eighth to wing, Gillett continued to develop into an outstanding player. He scored 12 tries and set up a further 5 while making 92.1 metres and 23.1 tackles per game. It is not too much of a stretch to suggest he could be a Ben Kennedy like figure within a few years.
  37. Nathan Gardner (*, *): Gardner only got his opportunity a third of the way into the season but he grabbed it with both hands and is now the future of the embattled Sharks. He was the Sharks most dangerous attacking weapon and his length-of-the-field try against the Roosters in only his fourth game was the best try of 2010. Gardner ranked 6th in average metres, topped the Sharks try scoring and was second in try assists. Gardner plays with a Billy Slater like dynamism that can see him become a star of the code in future years.
  38. Dean Young (-, -): Young hasn’t scored a try, has set up only two and ranks nowhere near the top in any statistical category but his importance to the Dragons cannot be underestimated. Young does all the grunt work that never gets rewarded. His versatility allows Wayne Bennett to choose a better team. And he never shirks his defensive workload. 2010 has been Young’s best year in first grade with commitment to excellence and a will to win his greatest qualities.
  39. Cameron Smith (13, 4): Smith remains among the best two hookers in the NRL but that ranking is based primarily on past credits as the Storm salary cap drama took its toll on the Melbourne captain. Smith always excels in big games and the Storm were robbed of those this year. He remained a committed leader who was the leading Storm defender and offered plenty out of dummy half. The main victim of the season’s circumstances was his running game with his tackle breaks and try assists down notably.
  40. Braith Anasta (-, 36): Anasta has had his finest season in the Tricolours in what may well turn out to be his last year at the club. Anasta was shifted from five-eighth to the forwards (and is reportedly unhappy with it) but has excelled playing the fringes and taking less of a directorial role. His leadership has also improved with Anasta winning the Dally M Captain of the Year. He is what he is: a very good club player who excels in a secondary play-making, ball running big man with skills capacity.
  41. Manu Vatuvei (48, -): The Beast has won back his mantle as the leading “big winger” in the NRL with 20 tries in 19 appearances in what was his finest season. While his attacking ability has never been in question, he has improved under the high ball and his defensive reads are much better than in previous years.
  42. Matthew Scott (-, -): Scott was one of the few Cowboys to try hard all season this year. He was rewarded by locking down an Origin prop position, surpassing Ben Hannant in the pecking order. His go forward improved immensely with his ability to bend the line in Origin crucial in assisting the Maroons win a fifth straight series. At only 25, his future looks bright.
  43. Chris Heighington (-, 14): It was disgraceful that Chris Heighington was again overlooked for Origin selection. He has had yet another year to write home about where he has made 112.2 metres per match along with 30.8 tackles and 4 tackle breaks. Heighington is the heart of the Tigers. He goes flat chat the entire match and ranks as an elite backrower for the second time in three years.
  44. Petero Civoniceva (36, 8): Even at 34 years of age and in his 13th season, Petero Civoniceva remains an elite prop forward. While his form has declined just a touch he remains the leading go forward prop in the game with an average of 139.3 metres per game on 15.7 runs. Petero laid the platform for the Panthers surprising turnaround in 2010.
  45. Brett Morris (30, -): Morris had another sensational try scoring year with 20 to go with his 25 from last year. He is a pure finisher who has benefited immensely from the Dragons focus on their left hand side in attack. His only knock is the disappointing form he exhibited during Origin.
  46. Ashley Harrison (-, -): Harrison remained a solid contributor to the Titans as a top class defender and a ball runner who possessed a danger due to his ability to pass and kick. He was again a member of the winning Queensland Origin team and he has helped the Titans into a preliminary final.
  47. Lance Hohaia (-, -): Since being given the opportunity to settle in at fullback, Hohaia has excelled at the Warriors. He is a dangerous kick returner who is a wonderful support player and creative playmaker. He is the most dangerous inside man in the Warriors attacking patterns while he is reliable at the back in both coverage and under the high ball. Much of the Warriors success in 2010 is due to Hohaia.
  48. Liam Fulton (*, -): Fulton is arguably the most underrated player in the NRL. He offers a little of everything to the Tigers with a hearty defensive workrate, an ability to cart the ball and some keen playmaking that allows him to play as a second five-eighth. His one try, two try assist, 28 tackle performance against the Cowboys showed his worth.
  49. Jarryd Hayne (2, -): Hayne may have rated 8th in tackle breaks and 2nd in average metres but his lack of consistency, his inability to play in a structured attack and his wanton lack of respect for both his team and the game have seen him fall from #2 to #49. Hayne was Parramatta’s most dangerous player but is also the player most responsible for their failure to make the finals this year as he only neared his best in a handful of matches.
  50. Joel Thompson (-, *): Thompson was outstanding in the centres for Canberra through 15 matches before succumbing to osteitis pubis and missing the Raiders dramatic run to the finals. Thompson is a brute who is difficult to contain in attack and who hits hard in defence. Playing away from his natural second-row position, Thompson scored 10 tries in his 15 games along with 4.3 tackle breaks per game. He is close to high representative honours.

Anyone interested in forwarding on any thoughts on the top 50 or to provide their own top 50, please email me at with the final From The Couch of 2010 set to be filled with a readers top 50.


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