NRL midseason: the five most impactful players so far

Josh Jordan Roar Rookie

By Josh Jordan, Josh Jordan is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    As we push past the halfway mark of one of the tightest and unpredictable seasons in recent memory, it’s time to take a look at the players who have made some of the biggest impacts for their team’s week in, week out.

    5. Blake Green
    He can steer teams around the park, guide players into holes and leave defenders following shadows, exactly what the New Zealand Warriors have needed this year. A no-nonsense, take-on-the-line type of player to compliment the flashy Shaun Johnson and Blake Green lays the platform down superbly. Excellent job by the Warriors to notice what they needed in their team to make them a premiership contender.

    4. James Maloney
    Wherever this man goes success seems to follow him, and Panthers fans will be hoping the pattern continues and he is helping young Nathan Cleary along the way. Even when their halfback was sidelined, and some people seemed to write off the Penrith club, always Jimmy has guided them through to win their next four or five without the star halfback. His influence can’t be underestimated.

    James Maloney of the Panthers

    (AAP Image/Michael Chambers)

    3. Damien Cook
    With a new coach comes some new signings and usually an overhaul in the way a team plays football. Damien Cook has been the beneficiary of just that thanks to new coach Anthony Seibold. Leading the competition in dummy half runs with 69 so far in the first 15 rounds, the amount of runs he makes coupled with his speed sees him cut teams straight through the centre to either runaway tries or setting up Souths into some prime real estate to capitalise on.

    2. Garet Widdop
    The boy from Halifax has always had the moves but not the right dance partner. With the signing of Ben Hunt for 2018 the Dragons now have an organising halfback to compliment Widdop’s ‘wait and watch’ style of play, and with Hunt taking control of the team, Widdop can just play, and with 153 points for the season, he has been able to do just that. One of the players to watch every time he gets the ball this year.

    1. Kalyn Ponga
    The way this young man has performed this season is good enough for any age, let alone 20 years old and in his first full season of first grade with pressures of a team looking to him as one of their shining lights. Even with Mitchell Pearce sidelined until at least Round 18, Ponga has taken the chance to stand up.

    He’s at the top of the tackle breaks (103) and line break assists (13) for this year, and being at the top of the Dally M rankings shows he may be one of, if not the, biggest threat to a defender one-on-one with the ball in his hands. It is only up and up for this kid the more experience he gains.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • June 14th 2018 @ 10:46am
      RandyM said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      It’s unbelievable to think Maloney could play in 4 grand finals with 4 different clubs this year. I can’t figure out if he’s just in the right place at the right time or if he really has that much of an impact.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 11:24am
        Forty Twenty said | June 14th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Penrith also have the best defence this year after signing the ‘worst’ defender in the comp. Maybe the Pennies did their home work and noticed that Maloney’s arrival at his previous clubs improved their defence also . The Maloney Paradox is alive and kicken.

        • Roar Guru

          June 14th 2018 @ 11:53am
          Nat said | June 14th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          Coach to team: ” Guys, we’ve signed Jimmy Maloney. He’s a superb player, a great kicker and will lead our team around the park very effectively but I’m gonna need you blokes to lift your defensive game another level”

          • Roar Guru

            June 14th 2018 @ 6:32pm
            Edward Kelly said | June 14th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

            Statistics can tell lies. I watch Maloney in every game because he is in my supercoach team and I hate missed tackles. Maloney misses some tackles each game but it is often because he is trying a one on one and is also trying to disrupt the opposition when they are looking dangerous. He seems able to read the play a bit ahead of some of the players around him. He shuts plays down or brakes them so other players can form their defense. I wasn’t a Maloney fan until I drafted him.

    • June 14th 2018 @ 12:05pm
      kk said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      Jimmy just points to his scoreboard and tries hard not to smile.

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2018 @ 12:29pm
      Nat said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      I would have Cook as the single biggest difference overall that has seen his team succeed. His service is giving his pack time and space to be at their damaging best and his runs from dummy are timed well and generally very effective with 90+ RMs and 41 TBs. He touches the ball more than everyone yet is just in the top 50 for errors. As a small body in the middle he makes 9.5 of 10 tackles coming his way. As opposed to the other contenders, his position means he cannot float in/out of games. With his game this year, it’s no surprise of Souths success so far.

      That and the 127 penalties this year Steveng 😉

      • June 15th 2018 @ 2:39am
        Fraser said | June 15th 2018 @ 2:39am | ! Report

        Massive Cook fan. He crisp passes off the ground give his receivers time and space. He delivers fast and with width. Defensively, he never stops, and his scoots out of dummy half if he sees a marker not square are absolutely lethal. A superstar in the making, who is only going to continue improving. He has leap-frogged all other dummy halves and will play for Australia by the end of this year.

    • June 14th 2018 @ 3:13pm
      Albo said | June 14th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

      My Top 5 individuals would be:

      1. Cook
      2. Ponga
      3. Maloney
      4. Tohu Harris
      5. Munster

      • June 14th 2018 @ 4:09pm
        RandyM said | June 14th 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        Charlie Gubb

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2018 @ 3:14pm
      Matt H said | June 14th 2018 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

      What? No Jack Bird? I’m shocked!

    • June 14th 2018 @ 5:41pm
      Ziusudra said | June 14th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

      All well and good, but few of them* could do much without the big guys laying a platform

      5. RCG. Runs hard, lots of quick PTB. Some decent offloads too
      4. Tyson Frizzel. The go-to guy that gives Widdop & Hunt space
      3. Tom Burgess. What a season he is having
      2. Tohu Harris. Big reason the Storm have been hit n miss and the Warriors haven’t
      1. Sam Burgess. Best forward in the game

      * maybe Ponga is the exception

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