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 . . .
Last year: 15
On his rugby league resume alone, ‘Billy The Kid’ has to be in the top 100. But with just one game under his belt in 2016 and a total of eight in his last two seasons with the Storm, he no longer justifies a top 50 ranking. It was the first time since 2007 that he didn’t feature for the Maroons.
Last year: 50
The Roosters rake was his usual rock solid self in 2016. He carried the Chooks in the early rounds of the season when fellow leaders JWH, Cordner and Pearce were sidelined. He made a bucket-load of tackles and even earned his first Kangaroos cap, playing in Australia’s Four Nations opener against Scotland off the bench.
Last year: 23
Tamou was strong in the middle third this season for the Cowboys, and he was again rewarded for his consistent form with selection in the Anzac Test and for the Blues in all three Origin games. Expect him to edge closer to his 2015 ranking of 23, now that he’s joining an exciting young pack at the foot of the mountains.
Last year: 86
Harris had another barnstorming year for both Melbourne and New Zealand. Not only did he regularly top the tackle counts and run for over 130 metres but he scored eight tries and even kicked two goals. On top of that, he was Craig Bellamy’s ‘Mr Fix It’, playing three games at five-eighth and three at centre, as he helped the Storm charge towards the GF.
In his first season as a starting front-rower for the Raiders, Boyd more than stood up. He ran and defended so strongly that he earned his first Kangaroos cap and then wore the green and gold at the Four Nations. Expect the 24-year-old to develop into one of the game’s premier forwards as his game time ramps up in 2017.
Last year: 7
JWH has tumbled down the top 100 list after sitting pretty at No.7 in 2015. He didn’t take the field until round nine, and only enjoyed four wins from his 14 games. But we saw the best of the Kiwi enforcer in the Four Nations, and hopefully for the Tri-Colours he can bring that form back to club land in 2017.
Last year: 27
Unfortunately for Chambers he spent three months on the sidelines with a foot fracture, otherwise he’d be closer to his 2015 ranking of 27. As a result of his interrupted season he only picked up three tries and missed the entire Origin series. But his class shone through in the finals, and he almost snatched the grand final away from Cronulla single-handedly.
Last year: 11
Foran only played nine games last season and clearly wasn’t in the right head space to be playing at all. Yet he still managed to lead the Eels to six wins and showed glimpses of the form that saw him earn a ranking of 11 in 2015.
Last year: 45
The evergreen back-rower had another brilliant season culminating in a second premiership – and he certainly wasn’t a passenger. Lewis combined formidably with Jack Bird and Val Holmes on Cronulla’s right edge, crossing for seven tries and playing a role in countless others.
It was a breakout year for the 22-year-old. Moses took ownership of the young squad and, along with James Tedesco, has become the linchpin of the Tigers’ attack. He upstaged Johnathan Thurston at Leichhardt Oval last season and you can guarantee he’ll shoot up the rankings this year.