The men wearing the number seven jumper are often the most important players on the field, and these are the handful of little generals I’m most excited to watch this season.
1. Daly Cherry-Evans
At 31 years of age and taking up most of the salary cap, a lot of pressure has been put on Cherry-Evans to perform each and every week. In 2019 Cherry-Evans played 21 games and tallied five tries, 15 forced drop outs and 21 try assists, which is a career high, plus an average of 338 kick metres.
Cherry-Evans will be very important for Manly in 2020 because they just fell short in the semi-final to Souths. Cherry-Evans also featured in a few of Manly’s close encounters by kicking the winning field goal against South Sydney in Round 4 and against the Storm in Round 19. His combination with the Trbojevic brothers, Dylan Walker and new recruit Danny Levi at nine will be very important if they want to get closer to making the grand final. Manly are definitely the dark horses this season.
2. Mitchell Moses
The 25-year-old halfback for the Eels has already played 131 games, which is over half the games Cherry-Evans has played, in only six years after starting his career at the Wests Tigers. In 2019, Moses played 26 games and scored four tries and 201 points, which is his highest since he started playing, plus 17 forced drop outs and 25 try assists, which is also his highest since he started playing. He also had 9413 total kick metres, which is also a career high.
Moses was also one of the suggestions to play halfback for NSW. He played for Australia in the World Cup Nines. If Moses keeps up his form from 2019 then he may get a very special call from Brad Fittler.
3. Adam Reynolds
At 29 years of age, Reynolds has played 183 games since he started playing in 2012 and has played for NSW and won a premiership in 2014. In 2019, Reynolds played 25 games, scored three tries and 207 points, and tallied 9176 total kicking metres, which is a career-high since he started in 2012. He also forced 28 drop outs, which is another career best, 12 try assists and had a career-high in 1410 total running metres. Reynolds will be hoping to stay injury-free and being club captain in 2020, he will want to carry Souths to another premiership.
4. Mitchell Pearce
Pearce’s 2019 started really well with the halfback topping the Dally M leader boards after 12 rounds with 15 points. The Knights should’ve made the eight but were way too inconsistent towards the back end. Pearce played 23 games, scored eight tries, and booted a career-high of 8230 kick metres and 15 forced drop outs, which is another career best. He also tallied 13 try assists and also had another career-high of 1695 running metres.
He played in Game 3 for NSW and ultimately threw the set-up pass to Blake Ferguson on the wing to get the Blues the series win in the dying seconds. His combinations with Kalyn Ponga, David Klemmer, Jayden Brailey and Connor Watson off the bench will be very important if the Knights want to make finals.
5. Jahrome Hughes
Hughes debuted for the Titans in 2013 but didn’t play his next game until 2016 for the Cowboys, then signed with the Storm in 2017. Hughes played 24 games in 2019 with some of those being played at fullback and halfback but he will start at halfback in 2020.
Last year Hughes scored nine tries and tallied 12 try assists, 11 line breaks, 11 forced drop outs and 2721 running metres. Hughes’ combination of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster and Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr along with the GOAT Cameron Smith will make the Storm’s spine one of the most dangerous in 2020.