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The top 50 NRL players of 2019: 40-31

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Editor
14th October, 2019
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My top 50 player countdown continues today as we celebrate a fantastic NRL season in 2019. In this article, the countdown moves through players 40 to 31, with two high-profile rookies, two big-name front-rowers and some of the most exciting talents in the competition.

Let’s get into it.

» Part 1: 50-41

40. David Fifita (Brisbane Broncos)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Fifita is undeniably one of the breakout rookies in the competition. His efforts were somewhat overshadowed by one of those of another big young forward in Brisvegas, but Fifita was strong on the edge.

He really came into his own following the experience of being exposed to Origin, and with a strong ball-running game, the trajectory of his career looks an upward trend.

Of course, playing in an up and down Brisbane pack and team could be an issue in the coming years, but it’d be a surprise to see him out of the top 20 in 12 months’ time.

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39. Felise Kaufusi (Melboune Storm)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 34
It’d be fair to say Kaufusi wasn’t quite as good this year as he was last year, but that’s not exactly saying he was playing poorly.

He was still probably the first-picked second-rower in the Origin side for the men from north of the Tweed, and did a solid job on that stage, while he turned up for Melbourne week in and week out.

It’s easy to get caught up in just how good Melbourne’s regular season was and look at their stars, but Kaufusi is realistically one of those, and the improvement in his offloading game added another dimension this year.

38. Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 23
If you could pick one player to never run at you, Kikau would probably be pretty close to the top of the list.

While 2019 started with an injury he picked up in the pre-season, the Panthers were a much better side a majority of the time with Kikau in it, although it was a tough season for the men from the foot of the mountain.

Kikau found the try line seven times, offloaded the footy a bunch, broke the line plenty of times and was just generally difficult to slow down.

37. Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 31
Addo-Carr has understandably dropped a little bit from where he was at the end of last year, and even the start of this year, but he is still one of the most lethal wingers in the competition.

While he didn’t find the try line nearly as many times as he did in 2018, he made up for it in other ways, getting sets off to a good start and improving his defence.

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It’s the defensive side of things which kept Addo-Carr up this list as high as he was, while limiting errors also played a part. His defensive work was night and day compared to 2018, and combined with his stunning attack, it makes him undeniably one of the best wingers in the game.

Josh Addo-Carr of the Storm

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

36. Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
McInnes will be the only Dragons player on the list in 2019, and with good reason.

While the Red V struggled to win games, stay together as a unit and put the off-field mess behind them, their co-captain made over 900 tackles, tried to spark the attack and played solid footy.

He faded a little at the back end, but never stopped trying, and with any improvement in the forwards around him, will go to another level in 2020.

You only have to remember that he was in the conversation for Origin in the build-up to know just how talented he is.

35. Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 28
Adam Reynolds may not be the most flashy half in the game, but he sure is solid.

While the Rabbitohs at times looked like they were about to fall apart around him during the second half of the season, Reynolds was more often than not solid with his kicking game, getting his club out of some sticky situations.

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Forcing 28 drop outs is a testament to his short-range kicking game, while he also had 12 try assists in what was a solid season for the Rabbitohs half, who was a chance to play Origin until injury collided with him in the middle of the season.

Adam Reynolds

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

34. Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 35
The big Kiwi had another season doing what he always tends to do. Breaking defensive lines, running hard, and tackling hard.

He is the leader of one of the best forward packs in the game, and it shows, tackling at almost 90 per cent and running for almost 126 metres per game. It’s the quality of those metres which make Bromwich so dangerous though, with the Storm prop averaging over 40 in post-contact per contest.

With a handful of tries, line breaks and tackle busts, it’s reasonably clear why he is still rated in the top echelon of forwards in the NRL.

33. Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
The Canberra half is one of the good news stories of 2019.

If you rewind all the way back to the start of the season, he was a fullback treading water who was going to be given a few weeks in the halves to see what happened.

Fast forward to the end of the season, and he is there on grand final day, an Origin debut under his belt and a Clive Churchill Medal around his back.

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He didn’t have the Provan-Summons trophy to show for it, but the fact he is now being marketed as a player who has a value of anywhere up to $900,000 is a sentence no one thought they’d be writing six months ago.

32. Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
“Sivo, Sivo, Sivo.”

The NRL’s top try-scorer somehow was overlooked for Dally M winger of the year nominations, but the Fijian flier who had big shoes to fill when Semi Radradra left, has stood up in a big way.

For a player who wasn’t even sure if he would get a look in at the top 17 this year, to finish as the league’s leading try-scorer, and one of the hardest ball runners to stop in the game is ridiculous.

To think he is still learning the game after a season which brought with it 22 tries, 23 line breaks, 89 tackle breaks and only 12 missed tackles to go with nearly 150 metres per game is quite a scary prospect for opposition wingers and fans.

31. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Okay, so, full disclosure – I have no idea why Waerea-Hargreaves didn’t make my pre-season list.

Oversight is the only reason I can give you, although it’d be fair to say he went to another level throughout the 2019 premiership season.

While he will be remembered for some disciplinary acts, his contribution to the Roosters in their charge for the premiership – as well as being their best on grand final day – deserves plenty of credit.

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Sydney Roosters hardman Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

(Matt King/Getty Images)

Tomorrow, we will run through players 30-21 in the NRL. In the meantime, be sure to leave your comments on the top 50 so far.

Full list so far

50. Daniel Tupou
49. Cody Walker
48. Josh Morris
47. Shaun Lane
46. Clint Gutherson
45. Mitchell Pearce
44. Siosiua Taukeiaho
43. Josh Jackson
42. Wade Graham
41. Jai Arrow
40. David Fifita
39. Felise Kaufusi
38. Viliame Kikau
37. Josh Addo-Carr
36. Cameron McInnes
35. Adam Reynolds
34. Jesse Bromwich
33. Jack Wighton
32. Maika Sivo
31. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves