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The top 50 NRL players of 2019: 30-21

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15th October, 2019
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Things are starting to get serious as the NRL’s top 50 player countdown moves into the top 30.

We have some big names who have dropped well down the list from pre-season today, while there are also some well-deserved additions to the list that weren’t even close to a thought in the pre-season.

» Part 1: 50-41
» Part 2: 40-31

Without further ado, let’s get into players 30 to 21.

30. Chad Townsend (Cronulla Sharks)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A

The Cronulla half was one of, if not, the best Sharks player this season. It was the consistency he provided that the men in black, white and blue seemed to consistently not have, significantly improving his play.

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During their run to the finals, where the Sharks were virtually fighting for their season from six weeks out, he was phenomenal, directing the forwards, leading the kicking game, and keeping things calm.

He is the sort of player any good team absolutely needs to have, racking up the try assists, line break assists, forced drop outs, and applying the pressure by being patient and not trying to force a miracle every second play.

29. David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 22

Like so many of his Newcastle teammates, it’d be fair to say Klemmer faded a little bit after the State of Origin series, although he wasn’t helped by some obvious niggling injuries.

He still pulled off plenty of metres both weeks though and led the way for a beaten Knights team who struggled to find a way into the top eight amid some coaching issues, which ultimately led to a change at the club.

He is the signing the Knights had to make though, and showed why when he was consistently in the top five props in the competition during the first half of the season, and just about first picked for the Blues State of Origin assault.

By the time it was all said and done for 2019, he averaged a tick under 170 metres per game, and more importantly, had 23 offloads.

David Klemmer of the Newcastle Knights

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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28. Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 18

When you look at the size of the bloke and watch him play on his good days, you think should be the best prop, bordering on the best player in this competition.

Games like those against the Warriors in Round 23, the Rabbitohs in Round 20 or Brisbane in Round 7, where he runs in a straight line looking to knock opposition defenders over like a bowling ball does pins, and tackles hard to inflict pain, he looks like he could be.

But then other times he comes out and looks uninterested, running sideways, giving away silly penalties or trying to force a dumb pass.

He is a hard player to get a read on, but it’s those good days that happen more than the bad ones, and why he is one of the elite props in the competition with his 53 offloads and 77 tackle busts setting the standard.

27. Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 5

There is a line of thinking which probably says Ponga wouldn’t be even this far up the list without the work, offloads and running of the bloke listed two spots ahead of him.

Coming into the season, Ponga was the shining light for the Knights, and he was supposed to lead them all the way back to the finals for the first time in years.

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That’s a lot of pressure for a youngster without a heap of first grade experience, and there were plenty of times where, even though he played well, he wasn’t up to that level.

He still had impressive numbers the whole way around, but without the media attention and commentators gushing over every time he came within 50 metres of the ball, he isn’t rated the same way he was in the pre-season.

Needs a big 2020 to justify the price tag.

26. Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 12

Sam Burgess is one player who has fallen away substantially this season, and injuries certainly haven’t helped his cause.

He still runs the ball like a truck and tackles like a weapon of mass destruction, but he wasn’t on the field enough, and couldn’t inspire much out of the Rabbitohs, with errors creeping back into his game.

The speed he used to play with still shows its head at times, as does his creative side, but it’s not the Sam Burgess of old.

Sam Burgess

(Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

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25. Blake Ferguson (Parramatta Eels)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 32

Ferguson is one player who continues his merry way up this list year on year. He just gets better and better, or, if you think about it, tougher and tougher.

Wearing his nose on the side of his face, he is still running huge metres every game, still knows how to find the tryline and defends well.

I genuinely thought he might have faded away from the Roosters this year, but he has gone the other way and is so very valuable to the Parramatta performance each and every week, which was highlighted by how different the Eels looked when he was out injured.

24. Dale Finucane (Melbourne Storm)
My rankings at the beginning of 2019: N/A

Dale Finucane is one of the NRL’s good news stories. He finally was handed a sky blue jumper this year after sitting in the background for so long, plugging and toiling away like the reliable player he always has been.

He has gone to another level in 2019 though, turning himself into one of the premier locks in the competition through a willingness to take every run at 100 per cent, and play every game like it’s his last.

There have been few players who deserved an Origin debut more than Melbourne’s 13, and his nearly 92 per cent tackle efficiency sums up the sort of player he is.

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23. Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A

Leaving Manu out of my top 50 at the start of the season was, in hindsight, not the smartest call.

While Latrell Mitchell takes most of the credit at the Roosters (and yes, the man who can win games on his own is still to come on this list), Manu has been very impressive playing on the other side of the park in a red-hot tri-colours outfit.

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Finding the try line eight times throughout the year, it was the quality of his ball running, offloading and heads up play, as well as his strong work in defence which buys him a spot so far up the list.

22. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Canberra Raiders)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A

So late was Nicoll-Klokstad’s signing at the Raiders, he quite literally missed the cut in my pre-season preview of the Raiders.

So, to now have him as the 22nd-best player in the league, having overcome every wall put in front of him to prosper as one of the game’s better fullbacks, and a crucial reason why Canberra made the grand final, is phenomenal.

It was a win-win situation for the two parties. The Raiders got their missing link at the back, allowing Jack Wighton to play in the halves, and Nicoll-Klokstad got an opportunity to play consistent first grade in his favourite position.

11 tries, three try assists, 109 tackle busts and an average of 175 metres per game makes for impressive reading.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has been a revelation at the Raiders in 2019. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

21. Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A

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Fonua-Blake might be just about the most-improved player in the competition this year. He is among the best props in the game based on 2019 form, and was a huge part of the reason Manly did as well as they eventually did.

What was probably most impressive about Fonua-Blake this year was the extra minutes he played. He was often doing a long stint, getting most, if not all of the first half out before he had a breather, and doing it with great efficiency.

When you talk about players who are hard to stop, Fonua-Blake is right up there, going for more post-contact players than all but a few players with 1400 throughout the season, while he also had 33 offloads, 76 tackle breaks and 163 metres to go.

He probably has a case to be even further up this list.

Addin Fonua-Blake breaks a tackle.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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
30. Chad Townsend
29. David Klemmer
28. Andrew Fifita
27. Kalyn Ponga
26. Sam Burgess
25. Blake Ferguson
24. Dale Finucane
23. Joseph Manu
22. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
21. Addin Fonua-Blake

Be sure to check back in tomorrow when players 20-11 on this list of the top 50 players in the NRL are unveiled.

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