AFTER much deliberation and number crunching we finally arrive at RLW’s century of champions.
From sensational rookies to evergreen veterans – the game’s elite 100 players have been revealed.
Let the debate begin . . .
He didn’t make the England squad but the Hull FC No.9 made our list after being voted by his Super League peers as the Man of Steel – their equivalent of the Dally M. Houghton’s try-saving tackle on Ben Currie secured a 12-10 win against Warrington in the Challenge Cup Final. “He’s easily the best rake I’ve ever played with,” enthused team-mate Mark Minichiello.
Last year: 28
It’s been quite the freefall season for SKD whose individual form was just as disappointing as that of his team. His seven tries were the least he’s scored in a season since coming into the NRL and he struggled to find any consistency in his game. The Kiwi international will hope the off-field distractions are behind him so he can return his focus to the footy field in 2017.
This England international has the pace and instincts of a top-class winger, but it is energy and sheer power which have caught the eye. The Huddersfield winger made his Test debut a year ago and was picked by Wayne Bennett for Four Nations duty. And to think, aged 17 he wasn’t even playing rugby league – or any sport – until he was enticed into giving it a try following a chance encounter in a nightclub.
Last year: 19
The Dragons five-eighth is the biggest loser in this year’s list after a disappointing season. Widdop’s all-around game seemed to go backwards in a year where the Red V needed him to step-up and become the team’s leader on the field. While he still possesses the traits that made him one of the best recruits in 2015 he will need to step-up in the absence of halves partner Benji Marshall.
The 23-year-old made his Test debut at centre but it is in the second-row where he has made his mark with Wigan. Not the biggest forward, he relies on skills, angles and sheer determination to break defences. Bateman’s season was interrupted by a club-imposed ban for a drunken dust-up with a team-mate, but finished the year with a Grand Final win and England honours.
Arguably England’s brightest young talents, Currie would have made Wayne Bennett’s Four Nations squad but for a nasty knee injury which cut short his campaign. He debuted with Warrington as a 17-year-old and has since gone on to become one of Super League’s most potent and skillful backrowers. The 22-year-old’s manager has already admitted his future may lie in the NRL.
A change of scenery mid-season proved to be the perfect ignition to kick start Paulo’s season in 2016. The former Eel looked a rejuvenated man after moving the nation’s capital. Averaging over 117 metres gained per game the 110 kg prop became one of the most devastating forwards in 2016 and will only get better.
Last year: 51
Jennings’ season will simply be remembered for his Game Three heroics for NSW as they snatched an unlikely win at the death in what was a ‘dead rubber’. His first season in the Blue-and-Gold was forgettable given the off-field drama surrounding the club but his explosive power still has him as one of the toughest centres in the game. There are few who can boast they have the same strength and power as the Western Sydney flyer.
The galloping winger officially announced himself to the rugby league world in 2016. Oates was selected in all three Origin games by the Maroons and finished the season with 18 tries in 22 appearances for the Broncos. He’s an imposing matchup for any winger given his height and size – it almost seems unfair that he has the speed to go with it.
Melbourne Storm may regret letting this former junior slip from their net. The winger, 23, finished last season with a record 42 tries in 29 games for Castleford – including a staggering seven hat-tricks. He has become a master of spectacular, aerial efforts, and his strike-rate has not gone unnoticed . . . rugby union outfit Sale Sharks are among those on his tail.