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 . . .
One of the most exciting prospects to come out of New Zealand in decades lit the competition alight in 2016 despite his team again failing to fire. Kata scored some sensational long-range tries notching up 15 four pointers in 21 games and looked dangerous nearly every time he touched the ball. Still has some work to do on his defensive reads but improvement will come with time and experience.
Last year: 57
The former Tiger showed glimpses of his rampaging best in 2016 but failed to consistently dominate games as the Sea Eagles struggled all season. When he is on his day he is unstoppable and will surely benefit from an improved roster at Manly next season.
The former Titan was brought to Canberra by Ricky Stuart to take control of the team and despite an early season injury, more than exceeded expectations in 2016. Sezer scored five tries in 24 games for the Raiders as they made it to within a game of the Grand final. His combination with Blake Austin could go from strength to strength.
He may have started the season as a back-rower but Cartwright was shifted to five-eighth mid-season and dazzled. His creativity and remarkable ability to off-load late at the line makes him a nightmare for any opposition and despite his defensive lapses you get the feeling rep honours will come his way this year.
Last year: 40
Despite being a regular in rep teams in 2016 the Roosters back didn’t have the season he was hoping for. Fergusson scored 11 tries in 22 games for the Tri-Colours but struggled for consistency but perhaps that had to do with the fact that he was shifted between centre, wing and fullback. Ferguson’s best position is centre and he probably needs to stay there if he is to climb back up the rankings.
Last year: 20
A knee injury ruled out the Bulldogs fullback for the majority of the season but he returned late to help breathe some fire into the Dogs’ stuttering attack. Playing predominantly in his preferred wing position, Morris scored 10 tries in 11 starts but should have had more if his halves were a little more creative. With a full pre-season under his belt he should be back at his best in 2017.
Last year: 31
One of the most durable forwards in the competition in recent seasons the Cowboys back-rower’s slide down the list was more due to other players stepping up than Cooper’s form slipping. Cooper played 26 games for the defending premiers scoring nine tries and was typically tireless in defence.
RLW’s Rising Rookie for 2016 played with maturity and toughness beyond his years to notch up 22 games while scoring five tries and 71 points over all.
It was his ability to take the Titans to an unlikely finals berth that will be remembered the most in 2016. Like Nathan Cleary, the sky’s the limit for the young half.
Last year: 52
The Cowboys rake slipped a little from the form that helped notch the club their first premiership in 2015, however he was still one of North Queensland’s best.
Injury hurt his consistency at times in the season but there are few more reliable in the game.
Last year: 49
Had he not missed half the season due to disciplinary issues Pearce may have climbed as opposed to fallen from last year’s list. Pearce did make a difference when he returned to the fold but he was always playing catch up in terms of his cohesion with the team and his match fitness.
The Roosters will benefit from a big off season before 2017 and so will their halfback.