Buzz Rothfield’s top 50 NRL players of the 2020 season
Buzz Rothfield’s top 50 NRL players of the 2020 season

Buzz’s top 50: New No.1 as fresh faces rule

There's a changing of the guard in the NRL, with plenty of new faces entering the top 50 while we have a new No.1 player. Check out Buzz Rothfield's full list here.

What a difference eight months can make.

We have a new No.1 player in the NRL - Storm and Maroons superstar five-eighth Cameron Munster, who has burst past James Tedesco as rugby league's best footballer.

His roles in Melbourne's grand final triumph and Queensland's Origin victory has seen him catapult from No.14 player at the start of the season to No.1.

 

 

We have an extraordinary 21 new players in the top-50, and three new entries in the top 10, compared our last list that was published in March at the beginning of the season.

Injuries and poor form have kept many of the highest paid players in the competition outside of the top 50.

It is a complete changing of the guard.

They have been replaced by the next generations - the likes of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Harry Grant, Stephen Crichton and Jarome Luai, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, David Nofoaluma and Jahrome Hughes.

 

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They replace the likes of old State of Origin regulars like Mitchell Pearce, Tyson Frizell, Wade Graham and Blake Ferguson.

Incredibly, the Penrith Panthers have seven players in the new top-50 headed by Nathan Cleary who has shot to No.3 from 46.

They also have Crichton, Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris, Jarome Luai, Apisai Koroisau and Billy Kikau.

 

 

Jaydn Su’A.
Jaydn Su’A.

 

 

 

50 Jaydn Su'A (Rabbitohs)

NEW

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 86 - AVG TACKLES: 23

 

Improved out of sight and emerged this year as not only one of the toughest forwards in the competition but a powerful ballrunner.

 

 

49 David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers)

NEW

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 17 - TRY ASSISTS: 7

AVG RUN METRES: 164 - AVG TACKLES: 3

 

One of the two Dally M wingers of the year after a breakout year and desperately unlucky not to make the NSW Blues State of Origin team.

 

 

48 A J Brimson (Titans)

NEW

 

GAMES: 9 - TRIES: 7 - TRY ASSISTS: 4

AVG RUN METRES: 149 - AVG TACKLES: 5

 

Played some sensational football to help the Titans win their last five games and earned a spot in the Maroons Origin team for the opening game of the series in Adelaide

 

 

Campbell Graham.
Campbell Graham.

 

47 Campbell Graham (Rabbitohs)

NEW

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 13 - TRY ASSISTS: 2

AVG RUN METRES: 86 - AVG TACKLES: 23

 

Another newcomer to the list. Could have played Origin but for being injured at the back end of the year. Outstanding in attack and defence.

 

46 Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)

↓ FROM 42

 

GAMES: 14 - TRIES: 10 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 85 - AVG TACKLES: 14

 

Could have been higher but played only 14 games and didn't get as many opportunities in a struggling team.

 

45 Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)

SAME

 

GAMES: 23 - TRIES: 6 - TRY ASSISTS: 11

AVG RUN METRES: 21 - AVG TACKLES: 14

 

In an identical spot to our March list at 45. Still has the best kicking game of all the halfbacks and led the Rabbitohs magnificently.

 

 

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.

 

 

44 Lindsay Collins (Roosters)

NEW

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 1 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 111 - AVG TACKLES: 24

 

New to the top-50 and probably a surprise selection. Anyone who watched him last Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium will understand why he has been chosen.

 

43 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Titans)

NEW

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 7 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 118 - AVG TACKLES: 21

 

First time in the top-50 but sure to be a regular. Learnt his football in the best system in the NRL at Melbourne Storm and will be an even better player with more experience.

 

42 Felise Kaufusi (Storm)

NEW

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 2

AVG RUN METRES: 79 - AVG TACKLES: 27

 

One of the most consistent players in the competition. Didn't make the top-50 in March but had a huge impact in the finals and in Origin.

 

Christian Welch.
Christian Welch.

 

 

 

41 Christian Welch (Storm)

NEW

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 0 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 113 - AVG TACKLES: 27

 

Arguably the most improved player in the competition. Has gone from just a player to one of the most respected and effective props in the competition.

 

40 Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)

NEW

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 11 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 129 - AVG TACKLES: 10

 

Not just a great State of Origin player for the Maroons. A wonderful athlete and one of the most dangerous attacking centre for the Rabbitohs.

 

39 Isaah Yeo (Panthers)

NEW

 

G AMES: 22 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 3

AVG RUN METRES: 124 - AVG TACKLES: 36

 

One of the great all-rounders in the completion. Can play middle, edge or centre as he showed in Origin. Turns up every single week for the Panthers. Great leader.

 

 

Junior Paulo.
Junior Paulo.

 

Jarome Luai.
Jarome Luai.

 

38 Junior Paulo (Eels)

NEW

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 0 - TRY ASSISTS: 5

AVG RUN METRES: 136 - AVG TACKLES: 23

 

Has got the best offload of all the front-rowers in the competition. Made four in last Wednesday night's Origin in just 35 minutes of game time.

 

37 Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)

↓ FROM 20

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 5

AVG RUN METRES: 83 - AVG TACKLES: 40

 

Didn't have his best season in a struggling Manly Sea Eagles team but produced his usual high standard in the Origin series, in which he made more tackles than any other player.

 

36 Jarome Luai (Panthers)

NEW

 

GAMES: 23 - TRIES: 7 - TRY ASSISTS: 23

AVG RUN METRES: 44 - AVG TACKLES: 17

 

Another first starter and a super player who deserved his place in the Blues Origin squad. So brilliant, so energetic and so unpredictable.

 

Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

 

 

35 Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm)

↓ FROM 32

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 115 - AVG TACKLES: 17

 

Close to being the best player on the field in the grand final against the Panthers after finding his best form at the back end of the season.

 

34 Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Roosters)

↓ FROM 13

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 1 - TRY ASSISTS: 2

AVG RUN METRES: 146 - AVG TACKLES: 27

 

Had a heavy workload and probably down slightly on last year's form but still among the best front-rowers in the competition.

 

33 Daniel Saifiti (Knights)

NEW

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 3 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 103 - AVG TACKLES: 26

 

A first time starter in the top 50. One of the Blues' best forwards in State of Origin and had a strong year for the Blues.

 

 

 

 

 

32 Boyd Cordner (Roosters)

↓ FROM 8

 

GAMES: 13 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 111 - AVG TACKLES: 24

 

Showed he was still a great player when fit but drops from number eight after his toughest season in which he played only 13 games for the Roosters.

 

31 Stephen Crichton (Panthers)

NEW

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 17 - TRY ASSISTS: 2

AVG RUN METRES: 106 - AVG TACKLES: 8

 

A Dally M centre of the year. Just 20-years-of-age. Scored 17 tries in 22 appearances. A potential superstar over the next decade and even longer.

 

30 Apisai Koroisau (Panthers)

NEW

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 3 - TRY ASSISTS: 4

AVG RUN METRES: 48 - AVG TACKLES: 46

 

Dead heat for buy of the year with Harry Grant. Helped turn an average Penrith attacking unit into the most feared in the competition.

 

 

 

Joseph Manu.
Joseph Manu.

 

29 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters)

↓ FROM 22

 

GAMES: 18 - TRIES: 1 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 122 - AVG TACKLES: 28

 

Old school frontrunner. Still the most physical in the game although his discipline - or lack of - can hurt the Roosters.

 

28 Angus Crichton (Roosters)

NEW

 

GAMES: 15 - TRIES: 5 - TRY ASSISTS: 2

AVG RUN METRES: 111 - AVG TACKLES: 34

 

Arguably NSW's best player in the Origin series. Has always been a great attacking player but is now much more physical in defence.

 

27 Joey Manu (Roosters)

↓ FROM 18

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 9 - TRY ASSISTS: 4

AVG RUN METRES: 95 - AVG TACKLES: 14

 

There are few better all-round footballers than this guy. The highest ranked centre in the top-50, which is huge considering the talent across the 16 clubs.

 

 

 

Damien Cook.
Damien Cook.

 

26 Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)

↓ FROM 19

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 6 - TRY ASSISTS: 21

AVG RUN METRES: 46 - AVG TACKLES: 15

 

Struggled at the Manly Sea Eagles for much of the year behind a forward pack suffered so many injuries. Showed his true class and form to get QLD home in Origin.

 

25 Brandon Smith (Storm)

↑ FROM 40

 

GAMES: 18 - TRIES: 3 - TRY ASSISTS: 3

AVG RUN METRES: 93 - AVG TACKLES: 25

 

As tough and lively as any player in the competition whether it's off the bench or starting in the middle. A great Storm clubman.

 

24 Damien Cook (Rabbitohs)

↓ FROM 12

 

GAMES: 23 - TRIES: 5 - TRY ASSISTS: 10

AVG RUN METRES: 62 - AVG TACKLES: 42

 

Struggled early in the season to adjust to the new rules but played as magnificently as the season progressed for the Rabbitohs and Blues.

 

Cody Walker.
Cody Walker.

 

 

23 Cody Walker (Rabbitohs)

↑ FROM 30

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 10 - TRY ASSISTS: 24

AVG RUN METRES: 67 - AVG TACKLES: 15

 

On his day the most skilful and dangerous attacking half in the competition. Can be unstoppable at his best.

 

22 Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs)

↓ FROM 11

 

GAMES: 14 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 15

AVG RUN METRES: 85 - AVG TACKLES: 3

 

Normally higher in the annual top-50 but took a while to settle in as Rabbitohs fullback this year then got hurt and missed the run home in the finals.

 

21 Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs)

↓ FROM 16

 

GAMES: 23 - TRIES: 5 - TRY ASSISTS: 5

AVG RUN METRES: 87 - AVG TACKLES: 36

 

The effect of his loss for the NSW Blues was brutal. As Freddy Fittler said: "It's was a killer blow." Played outstanding football for the Rabbitohs every week.

 

 

Kalyn Ponga.
Kalyn Ponga.

 

20 Kalyn Ponga (Knights)

↓ FROM 5

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 10 - TRY ASSISTS: 16

AVG RUN METRES: 143 - AVG TACKLES: 2

 

Didn't produce anywhere near his best form for the Knights but still one of the most naturally gifted players in the competition.

 

19 Cameron Smith (Storm)

↓ FROM 3

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 3 - TRY ASSISTS: 17

AVG RUN METRES: 19 - AVG TACKLES: 31

 

He's 37 years of age, has played 430 NRL games and still among the best players and leaders in the competition. Remarkable endurance in the toughest sport on the planet.

 

18 Joseph Tapine (Raiders)

NEW

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 116 - AVG TACKLES: 29

 

Probably a bit higher than most would expect but had an outstanding year for the Canberra Raiders. Big, strong, fast and dangerous.

 

 

David Fifita.
David Fifita.

 

 

17 Jahrome Hughes (Storm)

NEW

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 7 - TRY ASSISTS: 13

AVG RUN METRES: 56 - AVG TACKLES: 17

 

Premiership-winning playmaker who has around a dozen clubs chasing him. Been a regular halfback for only two seasons and will only improve.

 

16 David Fifita (Titans)

↓ FROM 9

 

GAMES: 9 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 11

AVG RUN METRES: 116 - AVG TACKLES: 18

 

A barnstorming attacking edge forward with power, pace and a step. Will be much higher on this list next year with an injury-free run at the Titans.

 

15 Jesse Bromwich (Storm)

↑ FROM 33

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 104 - AVG TACKLES: 21

 

The leader of the Melbourne Storm engine room. Consistency is his trademark. Turns up every week. Holds his own in any company.

 

 

 

 

 

14 Luke Keary (Roosters)

↓ FROM 6

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 10 - TRY ASSISTS: 20

AVG RUN METRES: 41 - AVG TACKLES: 14

 

Unlucky to be dropped from the Blues Origin side on one loss in Adelaide. Had another great year as chief playmaker at the Sydney Roosters.

 

13 Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)

↓ FROM 2

 

GAMES: 16 - TRIES: 2 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 193 - AVG TACKLES: 27

 

Drops from the number two ranking in March after a disappointing season by his high standards but still averages big metres.

 

12 Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)

↑ FROM 38

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 16 - TRY ASSISTS: 7

AVG RUN METRES: 122 - AVG TACKLES: 3

 

The best winger in the competition by the length of a football field. Always had the pace and brilliance but is now bigger and stronger.

 

Clint Gutherson.
Clint Gutherson.

 

 

11 Clint Gutherson (Eels)

↑ FROM 48

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 10 - TRY ASSISTS: 19

AVG RUN METRES: 162 - AVG TACKLES: 4

 

Finished second in the Dally M Medal, just a point behind Jack Wighton, after a wonderful season for the Parramatta Eels.

 

10 Viliame Kikau (Panthers)

↑ FROM 21

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 7 - TRY ASSISTS: 4

AVG RUN METRES: 87 - AVG TACKLES: 19

 

A dynamic force on the edge for the Panthers and not surprisingly named one of the Dally M second-rowers of the year.

 

9 Harry Grant (Storm)

NEW

 

GAMES: 15 - TRIES: 3 - TRY ASSISTS: 8

AVG RUN METRES: 59 - AVG TACKLES: 42

 

Also wasn't in the March list. Emerged this year as the most exciting young player in the competition. Performed so well in a struggling side.

 

 

 

 

 

8 Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm)

NEW

 

GAMES: 20 - TRIES: 11 - TRY ASSISTS: 13

AVG RUN METRES: 173 - AVG TACKLES: 4

 

Wasn't even in the March list. Produced such scintillating football throughout the season that he was even compared to the great Billy Slater.

 

7 James Fisher-Harris (Panthers)

NEW

 

GAMES: 23 - TRIES: 0 - TRY ASSISTS: 0

AVG RUN METRES: 153 - AVG TACKLES: 28

 

Laid the foundations for Penrith's charge to the minor premiership in a season in which he emerged as the game's premier front-rower.

 

6 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)

↓ FROM 4

 

GAMES: 18 - TRIES: 5 - TRY ASSISTS: 3

AVG RUN METRES: 193 - AVG TACKLES: 3

 

Showed magnificent leadership of the New Zealand Warriors in the toughest of circumstances. Dally M captain of the year.

 

 

 

5 Jack Wighton (Raiders)

↑ FROM 7

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 13 - TRY ASSISTS: 12

AVG RUN METRES: 74 - AVG TACKLES: 17

 

Dally M player of the year. It's a shame our last memories of the season were of him playing out of position in a losing Blues team.

 

 

 

Josh Papalii was a key factor in the success of both the Raiders and the Maroons. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Josh Papalii was a key factor in the success of both the Raiders and the Maroons. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

4 Josh Papalii (Raiders)

↑ FROM 10

 

GAMES: 22 - TRIES: 5 - TRY ASSISTS: 1

AVG RUN METRES: 135 - AVG TACKLES: 26

 

This man is an unstoppable machine and, without him, the Maroons wouldn't have won the State of Origin series. Unbelievably mobile for such a big man.

 

 

 

3 Nathan Cleary (Panthers)

↑ FROM 146

 

 

GAMES: 21 - TRIES: 8 - TRY ASSISTS: 24

AVG RUN METRES: 42 - AVG TACKLES: 16

 

Many thought he should have won the Dally M award. Steered the Panthers to an incredible 17 straight victories and a grand final berth.

 

 

 

2 James Tedesco (Roosters)

↓ FROM 1

 

GAMES: 19 - TRIES: 11 - TRY ASSISTS: 15

AVG RUN METRES: 200 - AVG TACKLES: 3

 

Probably not quite as dominant as in previous seasons but still a class above the rest of the fullbacks in the competition with his scorching attacking raids.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Cameron Munster (Storm)

↑ FROM 14

 

GAMES: 18 - TRIES: 4 - TRY ASSISTS: 11

AVG RUN METRES: 77 - AVG TACKLES: 19

 

Hugely responsible for Melbourne's grand final win and the Maroons' Origin series victory in a remarkable four-week period. An absolute superstar player.

 

 

 

 

Tom Trbojevic.
Tom Trbojevic.

 

PLAYERS THAT JUST MISSED OUT

Shaun Johnson (Sharks), Tohu Harris (Warriors), Justin Olam (Storm), James Tamou (Wests Tigers), Dale Finucane (Storm), Nathan Brown (Eels), Jake Friend (Roosters), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders), Tom Burgess (Rabbitohs), Dave Klemmer (Knights), Zac Lomax (Dragons)

 

HIGH-PRICE ABSENTEES (INJURIES/FORM)

Valentine Holmes, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Hodgson, Michael Morgan, Ash Taylor, Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Mitchell Pearce, Josh Dugan, Matt Moylan, Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Josh Reynolds, Russell Packer, Moses Mbye

 

DROPPED OUT FROM MARCH LIST

15 Payne Haas, 17 Tom Trbojevic, 23 John Bateman, 24 Tyson Frizell, 25 Wade Graham, 26 Mitchell Pearce, 27 Val Holmes, 28 Maika Sivo, 29 Addin Fonua-Blake, 31 Mitchell Moses, 34 Josh Hodgson, 35 Victor Radley, 36 Dave Klemmer, 37 Michael Morgan, 39 Dale Finucane, 41 Nick Cotric, 43 Marty Taupau, 44 Jai Arrow, 47 Blake Ferguson, 49 Jarrod Croker, 50 Bronson Xerri

 

 

 

Originally published as Buzz's top 50: New No.1 as fresh faces rule

Kotoni Staggs.
Kotoni Staggs.
Adam Reynolds.
Adam Reynolds.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
Daniel Saifiti.
Daniel Saifiti.
Latrell Mitchell.
Latrell Mitchell.
Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith.
Joseph Tapine.
Joseph Tapine.
Viliame Kikau.
Viliame Kikau.
Harry Grant.
Harry Grant.
Valentine Holmes.
Valentine Holmes.

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