Fullback – Billy Slater
Honorable Mentions – Tom Trbojevic, Clint Gutherson, James Tedesco.
Billy Slater is the comeback story of the year. After playing just seven games in two seasons, the greatest fullback of all time has returned with even more tricks in his bag. To go with his elusiveness and speed, Slater has added a kicking game and his ball playing is better again with his pass selection spot on.
Wingers – Suliasi Vunivalu & Semi Radradra
Honorable Mentions – Nick Cotric, Jordan Rapana, Josh Addo-Carr.
The two Fijian flyers are the closest things we have to thoroughbred race horses. In open space there’s no one better to watch than these two. Great finishers and as all modern wingers need, exceptional yardage work.
Centres – Dylan Walker & Will Chambers
Honorable Mentions – Jarrod Croker, Michael Jennings.
In the systematic Storm machine, Chambers plays his role perfectly. He brings aggression, niggle and class. He’s easily the best defensive centre in the competition and along with running tough lines, is a weapon on the edge. Walker has had his break out year. He has been outstanding in an over performing side and is one of the main reasons why Manly got to where they did. Made Akuila Uate’s job very easy this year.
Five-eighth – Luke Keary
Honorable Mentions – Cam Munster, Corey Norman, Blake Green.
After having a blow up with the Gladiator and moving to the arch enemy down the road, Keary has had arguably his best season in the top grade. Trent Robinson recognised the speed Keary possess and uses him more out the back of shape on sweep plays and it has worked incredibly well. Tough Defender for such a small man.
Half-back – Michael Morgan
Honorable Mentions – Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Ash Taylor.
“But Morgan’s a 5/8?.” I Know, I know, but he has been wearing the number seven for the majority of the season. When that jersey normally belongs to the best player in the game you’ve got a serious job to do – and a serious job is exactly what he’s done. Kicking game has gone to another level as well as his organisation of the side. Thriving on the responsibility and really taken ownership of this Cowboys side.
Prop – Martin Taupau & Paul Vaughan
Honorable Mentions – Junior Paulo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Russell Packer.
Taupau has had by far and away his most consistent season. It’s been the same offloads, powerful runs and damaging defence but just more of it. Trent Barrett should be congratulated on getting the most out of the Kiwi big man. Paul Vaughan headed north to the Dragons and became the go to man for their forward pack. He’s a metre eater of the highest order and has shown great footwork to crash over for a few tries.
Hooker – Cameron Smith
Honorable Mentions – Daylight.
He’s the best by a mile. Body of an accountant and he is starting to get thin on top, but he is too smart for everyone out there. Constantly three steps ahead and now he’s played the most games ever. Freak!
Second Row – Matt Gillett & Boyd Cordner
Honorable Mentions – Joel Thompson, Josh Jackson, Jamie Buhrer, Felise Kaufusi, Luke Lewis.
This category is loaded with choices but you can’t look past the two Australian back rowers. Cordner has had injury concerns of late but his first half of the year was incredible. The man does not stop and takes every tough carry when required. Gillett has been consistent all season and his contact in defence is exceptional. Both are real leaders and people you would like to play alongside rather than against.
Lock – Jason Taumalolo
Honorable Mentions – Nathan Brown, Paul Gallen, Jack de Belin, Mitch Barnett, Sam Burgess, Josh McGuire, Jake Trbojevic, David Klemmer, Elijah Taylor.
Speaking of loaded positions, lock has had some fantastic performers this year but anyone in their right mind has to pick the hulking Taumalolo. His work rate is outstanding, regularly making over 200m per game. For a man of his size, his footwork is amazing. Damaging ball runner beyond belief and has basically carried his team’s forward pack after losing Matt Scott to injury and James Tamou leaving. A superstar at just 24 years of age, may end up the best forward we ever see.
Rookie of the year – Nick Cotric
A great debut season by the young speedster. Not only did he score 16 tries but he averaged over 100m and nearly six tackle busts per game. A rising star no doubt. He’s a Blue right??
Coach of the year – Craig Bellamy
Plenty to choose from and while lots of people look to that fairy tale story or the poor roster that achieved higher than expected, my pick is Craig Bellamy. His team was only the third side in modern history to crack 44pts in the season and guess what, its the second he’s done it. He has the magic dust.
Player of the year – Cameron Smith
I’m honestly not sure what else to say about him, he’s just too good. Another perfect season for the future Immortal.
Bring on the Grand Final!
Do you think this could be the team of the year? Which selections did you agree or disagree with? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?