The Top 50 Players in the NRL (Part 1)

Filed in NRL, Top 50 by on October 14, 2013

For the sixth year, Making The Nut presents the top 50 players in the NRL. Rankings are based on contribution and performance at club level in 2013 though rep performances are noted. The performance of the team is also strongly considered.

A quick note: The number in the bracket is where the player finished last year with a * indicating they didn't play in 2011. In part two, I will provide the table of where players have finished in each of the four years.


Without further ado, players 26-50 of 2013.

26.       Matt Scott (North Queensland, 22)

Makes this list for the fourth straight season, to the surprise of nobody. The most consistent prop in the game, taking over the mantle from Petero Civoniceva. Only three props made more yardage. There are no frills to his game but he doesn’t need them.

27.       Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters, -)
A few years ago when Waerea-Hargreaves was ranked high on a list from Phil Rothfield, I laughed. For once, he was right and I was wrong. He bulked up this year and was the spiritual leader of the Chooks pack that totally reformed its attitude this year. A standout for the premiers this year.

28.       Billy Slater (Melbourne, 5)
After ranking in the top five in four of the last five seasons (and no lower than 12th), Slater drops to 28 this year. He took a long while to get into the season. His combined 27 tries/try assists is elite but his error count was poor and he didn’t have the same zip as he has in past years.

29.       Michael Jennings (Sydney Rosters, -)
Finished 22nd in 2009 before underperforming over his last three seasons at Penrith. The move to the Roosters did him the world of good, scoring 20 tries in 26 games including the sealer in the Grand Final. His defence improved massively.

30.       Anthony Milford (Canberra, *)
A sensation in his rookie season, Anthony Milford was brilliant on a team that was ravaged by drama, ill-discipline and division. He averaged over 104 metres a game, finished second in tries for the team and was one of just 11 players to average four tackle breaks per game. He is going to be some kind of player.

31.       John Sutton (South Sydney, -)
After a three-year absence from the list, the Rabbitohs captain returns. He has simplified his game under Michael Maguire and has been much more effective. He is a dangerous runner as a five-eighth with super skills for a big man. His short balls have been key to the Bunnies; attack.

32.       Aiden Tolman (Canterbury, 29)
You have to admire Tolman’s work ethic. Not blessed with any great skillset, Tolman still turns up week in and week out. Tolman averaged 72.5 minutes per game, running for 118 metres and making 30.2 tackles per game. Stiff to be overlooked for the Blues this year.

33.       Wade Graham (Cronulla, -)
Really matured this year, taking a leadership role at an embattled club. He played a number of different roles and excelled in them all but was at his best when acting as a second five-eighth on the edge.

34.       Anthony Watmough (Manly, -)
More than the workhorse his numbers suggest, Watmough is dangerous through the middle and helps set Manly’s attack up with his angled running, quick play-the-balls and sharp second phase play. One of the hardest backrowers to tackle.

35.   Jamal Idris (Gold Coast, -)
Cast aside as a fat mess when joining the Titans, Idris turned his career around in 2013. He got fit and it reaped a heap of rewards before injury cut his season short. His 11 line break assists led the team while he led the premiership in the category when he went down with an ankle injury.

36.   Albert Kelly (Gold Coast, -)
What a tale of redemption. Placed on the rugby league scrapheap after some off-field misdemeanours and the coaching of Ricky Stuart, Kelly won the No.7 jersey in the pre-season and was scintillating on the paddock. He led all halves in tries with 11, setting up another 13, in just 21 games.

37.   Brenton Lawrence (Manly, -)
Enjoyed a breakthrough season in his first at Brookvale. Didn’t cross the line but made plenty of line breaks for a big man. Played big minutes and was the rock of the Sea Eagles pack.

38.   Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne, 46)
The Storm backrower has been superb since returning from Wigan for the 2011 season. There are few better edge runners in the game and his professionalism is world class. I dare say he is one of Craig Bellamy’s very favourites.

39.   Kade Snowden (Newcastle, -)
The Knights prop had a sneaky stellar season before he was stitched-up at the judiciary in the dying rounds. Snowden was one of just eight players (six of the other seven played rep footy this year) to average 130 metres and 25 tackles per game. A real force in the trenches, only four props had more tackle breaks.

40.   Jeremy Smith (Newcastle, -)
It is no coincidence that the Knights hit form right when Smith returned from injury. A winner to the core and as tough as they come, Smith carried the Knights into the preliminary final. A player whose numbers never tell the story.

41.   David Simmons (Penrith, -)
The (rightfully) maligned Penrith winger had a season from the blue. If I was ASADA and looking at dramatically improved performances, I’d be knocking on Simmons’ door! He was superb with 25 combined tries/try assists placing him seventh in the NRL, a remarkable return for a winger.

42.   Shaun Fensom (Canberra, 12)
The Raiders workhorse is one of the most underrated players in the game. His 43.9 tackles/96.7 metres per game is an excellent return while he offered a little creativity in attack with 21 tackle breaks and 21 offloads.

43.   Nate Myles (Gold Coast, 13)
Makes the list for the third time in four years. His numbers were down in 2013 but he again played a typically tough, hard-headed brand of football. A solid middle defender.

44.   Josh Dugan (St George Illawarra, 33)
Ditched by Canberra after orchestrating his own demise, Dugan’s career was at the crossroads but he bounced back with a super season on the struggling Saints, playing twice for NSW. His 6.5 tackle breaks per game topped the NRL.

45.   Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta, 35)
The one shining light on a god-awful Parramatta team. Despite playing just 15 games, his 14 tries/try assists was four ahead of second place. The Eels won just one of nine without him.

46.   Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters, -)
A genuine superstar in the making, Tuivasa-Sheck’s second season culminated in a premiership ring and the Dally M Winger of the Year award. Only Greg Inglis had more tackle breaks.

47.   Jarrod Mullen (Newcastle, -)
Returns to the rankings for the first time since 2009. Had a much more consistent year with his error count down and his kicking game vastly improved. No star but a solid contributor. Ranked third in try assists.

48.   James Tamou (North Queensland, 14)
Ranked third among props in average metres. Endured some early controversies but when the Cowboys fired deep in the season, the Test prop was playing super footy.

49.   Josh Papalii (Canberra, -)
Really took a leap in his promising career by winning Queensland selection followed by a berth on the World Cup tour. His 70 tackle breaks placed him third among all forwards.

50.   Tim Simona (Wests Tigers, -)
The Tigers outside back was sensational when finally getting a crack after injuries took hold. On a rotten team, he scored 12 tries in 17 games, including at least one in nine of the last 11 games. 


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