As we head into the Origin period, it’s time to look back on the standout players at each position.
Dally M standings have not been taken into consideration; rather these are who should be the winners.
Fullback: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand Warriors) Honourable mentions: James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights), Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels)
Fullback arguably has the deepest field, with James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga and Clint Gutherson all putting their hands up here. RTS gets the nod, however, after running for 180 metres and breaking six tackles each game on average. The Warriors needed their captain to step up after Shaun Johnson’s departure, and he has done just that.
Wing: Ken Maumalo (New Zealand Warriors) Honourable mention: Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos)
Maumalo and Oates are standouts in carrying the ball out of their own end, with both averaging a touch under 170 metres per game. Oates has a slight lead in the try column with nine, while Maumalo has seven. However, Maumalo gets the nod overall when considering discipline. He has just seven errors to his name this year whereas Oates has 17.
Centre: Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters) Honourable mention: Nobody
This is a fairly simple equation. Nobody has really come close to Mitchell this season, especially with the likes of Jack Bird and Joseph Leilua suffering major injuries.
(Matt King/Getty Images)
Five-eighth: Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs) Honourable mention: Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
Nothing to see here. It’s Cody Walker followed by daylight at this stage. The Souths five-eighth currently leads the NRL in tries scored with 11. Not only that, but he has 12 try assists and 15 linebreak assists to boot. Brad Fittler may be left with no choice but to hand him an Origin jumper at this rate.
Halfback: Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle Knights) Honourable mention: Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
Cherry-Evans was running away with this award until his untimely injury in Round 7. Coincidentally, Mitchell Pearce hit form just as DCE went down. Pearce has an astonishing 11 try assists and four tries across the past five games, with the Knights currently sitting inside the top eight. The halfback field is relatively weak this year, considering Shaun Johnson’s injury struggles and Nathan Cleary’s inconsistent form.
Prop: David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights) Honourable mention: Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters)
Klemmer has been one of the buys of the season for the Knights. He currently leads all props in running metres and post-contact metres while averaging over 60 minutes per game, showing some stamina. Taukeiaho and Payne Haas aren’t far behind, but for now Klemmer is the man to beat here.
Second row: Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs) Honourable mentions: John Bateman (Canberra Raiders), Ryan Matterson (Wests Tigers)
John Bateman was on pace to win this award until his body had other ideas. In his absence, Sam Burgess’s attacking resurgence, with six tries, is enough to get him the win here. Burgess also has a strong work rate for an edge forward, running for 144 metres each game.
Lock: Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs) Honourable mention: Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
With Souths’ win-loss record sitting at 9-1, it’s not surprising to see another Rabbitoh on here. Cameron Murray is having a breakout season and looms as a bolter for Fittler’s Origin side. He averages 34 tackles and 132 metres a game while playing just 60 minutes on average. Jason Taumalolo will most likely win at the end of the season, but injuries have cost him first place at this stage.
Hooker: Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs) Honourable mention: Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers)
Damien Cook is a runaway winner here. While Farah has wound back the clock this year for the Tigers, Cook is far and away the best Hooker in the competition. His running game is what sets him apart from other dummy halves, and he has taken ownership of more fifth-tackle options under Wayne Bennett this season. Cook is currently tied for first place in try assists with 13.