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The top 50 NRL players of 2019: 20-11

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16th October, 2019
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The top 50 NRL player countdown continues today as we move into the top 20 players in the game from what was a fantastic 2019 season.

Today’s list features a retiring legend, a former Dally M winner, one of the game’s best young forwards, and an Origin captain.

» Part 1: 50-41
» Part 2: 40-31
» Part 3: 30-21

20. Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Speaking of the Dally M, my tip to win it this year was Moses. And that isn’t because he was the best player in the competition, but because he was the best player in his team by a margin.

Parramatta finished the season by winning eight of their final 12 games to storm into the finals, and a big part of that push was none other than their star half, Moses.

His kicking game was lethal, forcing drop outs and creating more tries than anyone else in the competition across the course of the season.

Add that to his decision making, vision and running game, and it resulted in winning efforts for the men in blue and gold.

Mitchell Moses celebrating.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

19. John Bateman (Canberra Raiders)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Sam Burgess might still hog the limelight with the media as the biggest English star in the game, but that’s simply not true.

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The biggest English stars in the game come from Canberra town. It’s a seriously smart recruitment strategy for Canberra to recruit from a colder, wetter place.

John Bateman has set the competition on fire this year. The second rower played a huge role in getting the Raiders to the decider, and no matter what you make of his ongoing contract situation, he is a player anyone would love have on their team.

18. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Murray has had a breakout season (and yeah, that term will be used again in this article, for those who have seen the feature image), at the Rabbitohs, turning himself into one of the best locks in the game.

He was strong last year, but went to another level this year. The questions surrounding whether he was too small to play the lock position all season were valid, but knocked over in emphatic fashion.

The undeniable best element of his game is the speed he plays at, getting quick play the balls and allowing Damien Cook and Cody Walker to go to work around him, while he just runs the ball hard and has a knack of finding the try line.

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A well-deserved Origin debut and strong performances all year have his stock rising in the game at a rapid rate.

17. Cooper Cronk (Sydney Roosters)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 11
There can be no disputing that Cronk will go down as a legend of the game. Nine grand finals, a handful of victories, depending on which ones you count and don’t count, and two premierships before moving away from the juggernaut in Mexic… I mean, Melbourne.

His guidance of the Roosters, the way he was willing to take the line on at every opportunity, his kicking game, and combination with Luke Keary and James Tedesco has been special to watch.

The game will be poorer for his absence, and while he has dropped a couple of spots down the list, there is no real question that he still deserves his gig as he drifts off into retirement.

16. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
So, I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this series that hindsight is a pretty wonderful thing, and maybe this is the biggest example of the lot.

Papalii not being on my pre-season list was equal parts crazy and silly.

What a season it has been for the Canberra wrecking ball. He is the undisputed pack leader in the nation’s capital, leading from the front week in and week out.

What was probably most impressive was the way he improved as the season went along, peaking at the back end to be huge for the green machine during the finals.

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That’s not to say he was poor at any point though, running almost 150 metres per game and looking dangerous more times than he didn’t.

Josh Papalii runs the ball.

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

15. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 7
There are few more consistent performers in the NRL than Jake Trbojevic. The Manly lock, who is an inspiration to his teammates on the Northern Beaches, is more than just impressive numbers.

He has dropped a little on this list, but that’s more because others have improved around him than the other way, with Trbojevic just continuing his rock-solid, week in and week out performances.

While the running game is strong, it’s the tackling which gets the most credit, as well as his ball-playing at the line and combination with brother Tom.

14. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: N/A
Breakout season. There it is.

The undisputed rookie of the year, the best player in the Broncos system and the man who looks like he is going to be one of the all-time greats.

Okay, maybe that’s a call which is way too large to make after one season, but he is already in the State of Origin set-up, hasn’t let anyone down, and single-handedly won the Broncos some games late in the season.

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Over 185 metres per game is ridiculous, but then, so is his 100+ tackle breaks, his post-contact yardage, huge offload counts and effective tackling.

An incredible season for the big unit in Bris Vegas.

13. Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 16
Year on year, Cordner – the New South Wales Blues captain – continues to prove himself as a second rower, a great player, and an outstanding leader.

He now has a pair of premierships and a pair of State of Origin victories to his credit, and he simply doesn’t miss a step playing on that brutal left edge for the Roosters outside Tedesco, Cronk and Keary.

It’s a phenomenal combination at club level, but Cordner completes it, and in a lot of ways, is the unsung hero, always there to run into a gap, or flick the ball on out wide if that’s what’s needed. He runs up in support more than you’d realise, makes more good tackles than you’d realise, and barely puts a foot wrong.

In some ways, a quiet achiever, but a very, very good one.

12. Martin Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 30
You know what, if there is one player I’d want to get out of the way of, it’d be Martin Taupau. He is just flat out scary, with the big frame, the long hair and the fact that in the back of your mind, you know the bloke could brush you off like a fly.

While his consistency has long been questioned in the NRL, it sure wasn’t in 2019, with Taupau standing up as Manly’s forward pack leader and just getting the job done.

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If a big run was needed, you could be sure he would be there to provide it. If a big tackle was needed, well, ditto.

Taupau, in what was his best season yet, made almost 150 metres per game, but it was the quality of those metres which was most impressive.

Martin Taupau

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

11. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand Warriors)
My ranking at the beginning of 2019: 10
The 2018 Dally M winner is the only Warrior who makes it onto this list at the end of 2019, and while it’s been a tough season for the men from across the ditch, Tuivasa-Sheck has again been the shining light.

Safe in defence and in fielding kicks, it’s his running game which sets people talking about just how talented the former Rooster is.

Tuivasa-Sheck ran for over 200 metres per game during 2019, including a monstrous 368 against the Broncos in Round 17, and was good more often than not, despite the struggles of the team around him.

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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
20. Mitchell Moses
19. John Bateman
18. Cameron Murray
17. Cooper Cronk
16. Josh Papalii
15. Jake Trbojevic
14. Payne Haas
13. Boyd Cordner
12. Martin Taupau
11. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Be sure to tune back in tomorrow when we roll through the top ten players in the game.