The Top 50 Players in the NRL (Part 2)

Filed in NRL, Top 50 by on October 15, 2013

Without further ado, the top 25 players of 2013. 

1.       Andrew Fifita (Cronulla, -)
Andrew Fifita is one of the great stories of 2013. Emerging in 2012 as a tough but inconsistent player, Fifita became the dominant prop – and perhaps the dominant player – in 2013. The Sharks prop became the first front rower to lead his club’s tryscoring tally in over a quarter century, he was one of two forwards to average over 150 metres a game and the only one to combine it with 30 tackles while he 2was one of two forwards with more than 70 tackle breaks – he had 97. He has everything in his game and was the top player of 2013.

2.       Greg Inglis (South Sydney, 2)
The South Sydney fullback was again brilliant in 2013, finishing No.2 for the second straight year. Inglis has changed the way the fullback role is accounted for now with size becoming increasingly as important as speed. No player in the NRL was harder to tackle with his 5.2 tackle breaks per game second in the NRL. He is a once-in-a-generation athlete.

3.       Cameron Smith (Melbourne, 9)
The champion hooker has slipped out of the top 15 just once in the last six years and despite the Storm failing to go back-to-back, Smith was again sensational. He does nothing wrong. He is a future Immortal who made just 10 handling errors and was consistently great across the entire year.

4.       Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly, 47)
The kid has had three full seasons in the NRL and in two of those has guided the Sea Eagles to the Grand Final, reaching the prelim in the other. Cherry-Evans is emerging as a truly elite halfback while he showed his versatility at Origin level by coming off the bench and playing lock. No halfback makes more tackles or has a better tackle efficiency either, meaning his entire game is at the very top level.

5.       Corey Parker (Brisbane, 39)
The Rugby League Week Player of the Year was typically wonderful. There is nothing Parker doesn’t do at an elite level. He is the only player in the premiership to average 140 metres and 35 tackles a game, leads the NRL in offloads and is as disciplined a forward as there is in the game. Parker is a treasure to the game.

6.       Cooper Cronk (Melbourne, 4)
The 2013 Dally M Medal winner had a funny year. He jumped from the blocks like a firecracker and seemed certain to have an all-time season. But when Origin hit, his form slipped and though he had some solid games, really lost some of his touch over the backend. A great organiser and top halfback but cracks appeared in his game for the first time this year.

7.       Jamie Lyon (Manly, 10)
The Manly skipper makes it into the top 20 for the fourth straight year. He is the best centre since Mal Meninga. He is a totally unique player to boot, really a second five-eighth who runs the traffic down the most dangerous edge in rugby league. A champion captain, Lyon defines class. His form is showing no sign of slipping, either.

8.       Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland, 7)
It appeared Thurston was having a down year but even when the Cowboys were struggling and his halves partner was constantly changed, Thurston was still performing at an elite level. Ranked third in try assists and was the guiding force behind the Cowboys’ late run into the finals.

9.       Sam Burgess (South Sydney, 20)
Sam Burgess moves into the top 10 for the first time with his best season since moving to Australia. Burgess terrorised opponents with his physicality, the undisputed leader of the Rabbithohs’ forward pack. Contribution was huge with 141 metres and 28 tackles a game while his try tally was eight. You couldn’t ask for more from a forward.

10.   Paul Gallen (Cronulla, 3)
A top fiove player the last three seasons, Gallen drops down to No.10 after an injury-ravaged season kept him to 16 games. Still posted remarkable numbers that saw him top the NRL in metres with an incredible 182.9 (30 ahead of the No.2 forward) while he was the only forward to average two offloads and three tackle breaks a game. His influence is diminishing but that is more a result of having better players around him at the Sharks.  

11.   Todd Carney (Cronulla, 24)
The 2010 Dally M Medal winner is quickly on his way to becoming Cronulla’s greatest ever signing. Carney was superb in 2013, the lynchpin of the Sharks’ attack. He set up 20 tries in 21 games and few halves had his ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck. Wonderful to watch. Very unlucky to lose his NSW No.6 jersey.

12.   Sonny Bill Williams (Sydney Roosters, *)
I can’t say much nice about him. I wouldn’t undermine the list by leaving him off but I can’t bring myself to say something nice about how well he played. He was go …

13.   Trent Merrin (St George Illawarra, 31)
It is a shame he plays on such a rotten team because Trent Merrin is arguably the most skilled all-round forward in the NRL. Light on his feet with an uncanny ability to offload, Merrin also gets through a ton of work. Merrin ranked sixth in metres made and was one of just four forwards to run for 140 metres and make 30 tackles, while he ranked fourth in offloads. Should be in the World Cup team.

14.   Jake Friend (Sydney Roosters, -)
The Roosters hooker returns to the list after a stellar season that saw him shine in a premiership team. One of the most reliable defenders in the game – who does plenty of tackling – it was with the ball that Friend made real advances, involved in a combined 14 tries/try assists. Incredibly, made just four handling errors.

15.   Josh Reynolds (Canterbury, 15)
Canterbury’s best player without question, Reynolds was a terrier who never gave up on a team that was only too happy to throw in the towel. Led the Bulldogs in try assists and was one of only six backs with 30 offloads and 50 tackle breaks. Always credited with his toughness but his skill is right up there.

16.   James Maloney (Sydney Roosters, -)
His move to the Roosters was career-defining. In his first season at the Tricolours, Maloney won a premiership and the NSW No.6 jersey. His goalkicking was peerless, he crossed for nine tries (equal first among five-eighths), led all halves in line breaks and was a real player the Chooks gravitated around.

17.   Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers, 18)
Spent the season playing with a bunch of clowns but Farah was again excellent. He nearly double the second placed hooker in try assists per game while there were few weaknesses to his game. It is incredible considering he plays 80 minutes that he had just 14 errors all season.

18.   Adam Reynolds (South Sydney, 41)
Sure, he was poor in Souths’ limp exit from the finals but throughout the season he was very good, often the Bunnies’ best. He finished fourth in regular season try assists while his goalkicking was legitimately match-winning. He is calm, has poise and a real touch of class. If he isn’t the NSW halfback next year, my head will explode. 

19.   Josh Hoffman (Brisbane, -)
The Broncos utility has been screwed around all season … and continues to be by the club. But he had a fabulous season, returning to the top 25 after appearing on the list in 2011. He was shifted all over the park but managed 15 tries and a No.4 tackle break ranking and was without question Brisbane’s best (and at times, only) attacking weapon.

20.   James Graham (Canterbury, 11)
Canterbury could get nothing going with Graham suspended at the start of the season. His return signalled greater creativity in attack while his workload is irreplaceable: 128 metres and 31 tackles plus being the virtual distributor in attack. Graham rates close to the best prop in the game.

21.   Issac Luke (South Sydney, 16)
An incredible talent who has ranked in the top 40 for four straight years. Luke is the best dummy-half runner in the premiership and by a long way. He runs for 73 metres per game – only Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah run for more than 45. The concern with Luke this year, however, was his high error rate. His shocker in the prelim also didn’t help.

22.   Greg Bird (Gold Coast, 17)
Benefitted from not being shuffled around between the backrow and five-eighth. Ranked top 10 among forwards in metres gained but most importantly cut his errors and missed tackles down, virtually halved from 2010-11. His leadership at the Titans should also not be underestimated.

23.   George Burgess (South Sydney, -)
Debuted in 2012 but burst onto the scene this year to win Rookie of the Year honours. What an incredible debut season it was with seven tries and 89 tackle breaks, second only to Andrew Fifita. He was not a one-trick pony though, running for over 136 metres per game, top 10 among all forwards.

24.   Kieran Foran (Manly, -)
Doesn’t get the raps some of his teammates do but is admired throughout the league. Equal parts tough and skilful, Foran is one of the most consistent and reliable halves in the premiership. A quality ball runner, Foran is just as adept at creating off the pass or kick.

25.   Michael Gordon (Cronulla, -)
His move from Penrith was a rousing success. For the first time since 2010, made it through a full season. Was a star for the Sharks at the back though rarely got the kudos he deserved. Ranked second among backs in metres with 149 per game while he ranked seventh among backs for tackle breaks. Should be a certainty for NSW. 


Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Making the nut supercoach this year?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Top work Nick, a worthy compilation.
    To think that Fifita credits his form on a big off-season should get a few blokes inspired. Scary thought is he also has a twin! The Burgess’ mob are just as dangerous.

    Tony Monero

  3. Anonymous says:

    No Hodges?