These are the final days. We’re counting down to the 2021 NRL grand final. The mighty mountain men from Penrith and the glory of those from Redfern. We haven’t run out of yarns just yet.
We’ve put together season player ratings for both sides. Funnily enough, they all deserve to be there.
DYLAN EDWARDS: 7.7
The type of player every coach loves having in their team. Safe as houses, and while he lacks the X factor of others in September, he always seems to get the job done.
Stephen Crichton: 7.9
No doubt he is a superstar in the making and his time will come, but he has switched between several positions in the outside backs in 2021 for the betterment of the team.
Paul Momirovski: 7.5
He has some slight flaws in his defensive game but has been pretty solid for Ivan Cleary.
Matt Burton: 8.6
It’s incredible to think that Canterbury hit the media earlier in the season trying to get Burton out of his current contract. The Panthers knew what they had, and he has become one of the season’s top centres.
Brian To’o: 9.0
He’s an absolute freak. He’s quickly become one of the modern era’s great wingers. He’s a monster metre-eater out of his own end and one of the NRL’s best finishers.
Jarome Luai: 8.5
He’s stagnated a touch this season but is finding some of his best form in his combination with his halves teammate. He’s an outsider for the Clive Churchill Medal.
Nathan Cleary: 8.9
It’s hard to say he has had a better year than he did in 2020, but he is the heartbeat of this Panthers outfit. His kicking game is lethal, but you know Penrith are purring when he’s challenging the line.
Moses Leota: 8.7
He missed the preliminary final but is an unsung hero of the Panthers pack – a rampaging, fearless prop who loves the dirty work.
Apisai Koroisau: 8.4
He lost plenty of footy early in the season due to injury, but he’s a legitimate gun in this Penrith team.
James Fisher-Harris: 9.1
He’s probably my favourite player in the NRL right now alongside Brandon Smith and easily one of the best front-rowers of this generation. Anything good Penrith do usually comes off the back of Fisher-Harris.
Viliame Kikau: 8.8
Big Kikau has had another huge year, but you have to question the decision to slide him onto the bench since Round 23. Some take it well, but I don’t think Kikau is the kind of guy that likes starting a big match on the pine.
Kurt Capewell: 8.3
It was a genius roster management move to get him across from Cronulla. He’s a classy forward who can cause damage if he does have to shift to the outside backs.
Isaah Yeo: 9.2
What a year from the leader. He’s battled concussion concerns but leads from the front, and when he speaks the team listens. I’m rating Yeo’s season output higher than his teammates for his efforts.
Tyrone May: 7.4
He’s seemingly loved by teammates and is a good guy to have on your roster. He can cover spots across the field and doesn’t let you down.
Scott Sorensen: 8.6
What a great year. He’s not the biggest guy on the field but gets it down.
Spencer Leniu: 7.7
He’s a local junior who gets his chance with Tevita Pangai Junior ruled out. He’s a future starter at the Panthers and never shirks his responsibilities.
Liam Martin: 8.2
He had a huge start to the year and was richly rewarded with State of Origin selection. I don’t think he’s been as good since the end of the series, but he might find some good work in the middle of the paddock in the grand final.
Panthers total: 142.5
Blake Taaffe: 7.7
It is difficult to rate the youngster’s season, but when you consider what he has done since Latrell Mitchell’s suspension, it’s hard not to think he’s on the cusp of being South Sydney’s newest premiership-winning fullback. Amazing.
Alex Johnston: 8.5
Another year and another season of Johnston meat pies. He’s a clinically classy finisher who can’t stop scoring.
Dane Gagai: 8.6
I’m happy to concede I once bagged Gagai that he always kept his best footy for the representative season. That has changed. He’s a quality centre.
Campbell Graham: 8.2
I have a feeling this guy and Penrith’s Stephen Crichton will be fighting for New South Wales jerseys for years to come. He’s a consistent performer who has had a fair season.
Jaxson Paulo: 7.3
It’s hard to gauge the young winger’s season. He struggled at times under the high ball and felt the wrath of Wayne Bennett’s selection pen on a couple of occasions in 2021.
Cody Walker: 8.8
He feels the game better than almost anyone else in the sport. He continues to play what’s in front of him. He’s a big dilemma for Penrith.
Adam Reynolds: 8.5
He doesn’t usually get the accolades his rivals in the same position do, but you can’t measure the quality of his kicking game. He’s a true halfback.
Mark Nicholls: 8.9
If only all props had the opportunity to develop their game in the last decade the way Nicholls has. It’s the toughest position to play in the game and takes the longest to harness.
Damien Cook: 8.5
I still have question marks over his pass selections close to the line, and aspect of his game he’s trying to improve, but he’s still arguably the most damaging player on the park on the back of momentum from halfway or even further back.
Tevita Tatola: 8.0
He’s one of those guys every club needs. Tatola will get through his work and won’t let anyone down.
Keaon Koloamatangi: 8.4
What a freak. He’s a future representative gun of the game. I’m not sure if it’s time just yet, but he has a chance to help his Rabbitohs to their first premiership since 2014.
Jaydn Su’A: 7.7
He’s another guy you need in your squad. He’s played more games in the NRL this year than another season and represented the Maroons, but he’s drifted off in the final stages of the campaign.
Cameron Murray: 9.1
He’s already one of South Sydney’s favourite sons. If he wins a premiership this weekend, he’ll become a legend of the club. That’s how good he is.
Benji Marshall: 7.7
He has only had to do what he’s been asked to do. God knows how important he’s been in the sheds or on the training field.
Jacob Host: 7.5
His career was in jeopardy at the Dragons as he struggled with injury and form. He’s had a really good season with the Rabbitohs.
Tom Burgess: 7.9
He’s seemingly fixed up a lot of the errors in his game and is a worthy starter in the Souths No. 17 this weekend.
Jai Arrow: 7.7
A star signing from the Gold Coast, Arrow has been solid and done a job for Wayne Bennett thus far.
Rabbitohs total: 139.0