James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk. Picture: Getty Images
James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk. Picture: Getty Images

Peter Badel’s top 50 NRL players: The top 10

Just about any of the top 10 could have sat in the No.1 spot of this countdown, but there was one player that stood out from the rest.

Over the past four days The Courier-Mail's chief rugby league writer has been counting down the NRL's hottest talent, before revealing the top 10 at today's NRL Season Launch.

But who makes that top 10 when the field is stacked with so much talent? We've already seen Latrell Mitchell find his way into the top 20 after a year that saw him win a premiership and guide New South Wales to Origin glory.

Does Queenslander young gun Kalyn Ponga announce himself as the NRL's best player, after proving he belonged in the Maroonsjersey?

Is it Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Cowboys big bopper Jason Taumalolo, or North Queenslander Michael Morgan as he takes over from the great JT?

Last year we saw Storm veteran Cameron Smith take out the top spot from Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Cordnerrounding out the top five.

From six to ten we saw Cooper Cronk, Michael Morgan, Tom Trbojevic, Matt Gillett and Jesse Bromwich.

With a couple of retirees and some players whose form has slipped, we're bound to see some new names.

Today, Peter Badel reveals his top 10.

 

 

 

Daly Cherry-Evans answered his critics during Origin last year. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty Images
Daly Cherry-Evans answered his critics during Origin last year. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

 

10. DALY CHERRY-EVANS (Sea Eagles)

Finally proved he is Origin quality with a scintillating display in his Queensland comeback in Game Three last season. Improved his game management and goalkicking under Trent Barrett. Now right in the mix to be Australia's No.7.

KEY STAT: 15 try assists, 17 line-break assists and 13 forced drop outs last season underline his playmaking class.

 

Michael Morgan has to take over at the Cwoboys as the main man after Johnathan Thurston retired.
Michael Morgan has to take over at the Cwoboys as the main man after Johnathan Thurston retired.

 

9. MICHAEL MORGAN (Cowboys)

Injuries destroyed his 2018 campaign but he remains one of the NRL's attacking stars. Fast, elusive, strong and composed under pressure, Morgan has all the tools to lead the Cowboys in the post-Johnathan Thurston era.

KEY STAT: Injury-ravaged 2018 season with only nine try involvements compared to 43 the previous year.

 

Sam Burgess is the leader the Rabbitohs need as they try to better their top four finish last year. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Sam Burgess is the leader the Rabbitohs need as they try to better their top four finish last year. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

 

8. SAM BURGESS (Rabbitohs)

Rockets into the top 10 following his outstanding 2018 season. Now into his 30s but Burgess showed his toughness and passion has not waned by leading Souths into the top four last season. A great clubman who inspires others.

KEY STAT: Averaged 71 minutes, 132 metres and 28 tackles per game in 2018.

 

Kalyn Ponga has the potential to be the top dog on this list. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
Kalyn Ponga has the potential to be the top dog on this list. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman

 

7. KALYN PONGA (Knights)

In time, has the talent to be the NRL's top dog. Arrived at new club Newcastle under enormous pressure but showed remarkable maturity to ignite the Knights. His superb Origin debut last year, aged just 20, is the platform for the electric Ponga to dominate the code for 10 years.

KEY STAT: Six tries, 14 try assists, 14 line-breaks and a whopping 2837 metres in his first year with the Knights.

 

Cameron Munster looks set to own his spot in both the Queensland and Australian teams. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Cameron Munster looks set to own his spot in both the Queensland and Australian teams. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

 

6. CAMERON MUNSTER (Storm)

Queensland incumbent pivot and can be Australia's next long-term five-eighth. Relishes the big stage and has the competitive fire to match his class. At 24, he is ready to take over from Cameron Smith as Melbourne's main man.

KEY STAT: Four tries, 18 try assists and nine line-breaks last season.

 

Cooper Cronk’s heroics in last year’s grand final will go down in NRL folklore. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz
Cooper Cronk’s heroics in last year’s grand final will go down in NRL folklore. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz

 

5. COOPER CRONK (Roosters)

His grand-final heroics playing with a broken scapula last year will go down in folklore. Eyeing retirement at 35 but still the NRL's best halfback with his composure, consistency and tactical mastery honed by 14 years calling the shots.

KEY STAT: 25 assists and 15 secondary assists in his maiden season at the Roosters in 2018.

 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has the speed and footwork to beat just about any defence. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has the speed and footwork to beat just about any defence. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

 

4. ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Warriors)

Surges into the top 10 following his Dally M Medal win. Sizzling speed, flashy footwork and tackle-busting power make him a lethal attacking cocktail. The club captaincy has taken him to another level.

KEY STAT: Incredible backfield runner, averaging more than 165 metres per game for the past four seasons.

 

 

Jason Taumalolo is a terrifying sight when he gets a run on. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Jason Taumalolo is a terrifying sight when he gets a run on. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

3. JASON TAUMALOLO (Cowboys)

The code's ultimate forward metre eater. His form dipped slightly last season but still a terrifying sight when his 115kg frame powers through the midfield. The new 'JT' in Townsville in the post-Thurston era.

KEY STAT: Since 2014 has run for almost 5000 metres more than any other forward. A true powerhouse.

 

 

Storm captain Cameron Smith has been knocked off his perch as the No.1 player. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Chambers
Storm captain Cameron Smith has been knocked off his perch as the No.1 player. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Chambers

 

2. CAMERON SMITH (Storm)

Finally dethroned as the NRL's No.1 player. Still a tactical genius and the Storm's heartbeat, but drops one ranking as he is no longer a Test and Origin representative. If he stays fit, will become the first player in NRL history to play 400 games this season. What a champion. KEY STAT: A staggering 1055 tackles last season with an efficiency of 92 per cent.

 

James Tedesco is the new king of the NRL. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images
James Tedesco is the new king of the NRL. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images

 

1. JAMES TEDESCO (Roosters)

The NRL has a new king. Tedesco destroyed the Maroons in last year's Origin series and backed it up winning a premiership at the Roosters. Fast, fit and powerful, he's a nightmare to tackle and is adding a creative edge to his game. At 26, the Blues ace is at the perfect age to dominate the code.

KEY STAT: Career-high try assists (21) and line-breaks (19) and busted more tackles than any other player (133) last season.

News Corp Australia


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