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 . . .
Lowe established himself as one of the Cowboys most consistent performers in 2016, and it was no surprise to see just how much they missed his presence in the finals. The hard-working second-rower averaged 119 metres and 30 tackles per game, while also making a habit of finding the line.
Last year: 85
‘Mr Consistent’ was his usual self in 2016. Losing the captaincy did little to dampen his spirit as he continued to lead the way for the Warriors, even when their backs were against the wall. He’s a player you want to play with and while he mightn’t have the ‘c’ next to his name anymore he’s still the man the Warriors rely on to lead the way.
While his form for his club was as good as could be given the struggles going on at the Knights, Gagai became the man for the big occasion when it came to donning a Maroons jersey. Four tries in the series, including a hat-trick in Game Two, showed how good he can be when there’s talent around him. Gagai averaged over 120 metres gained per game for the cellar-dwellers as he continued to perform for an under-performing side.
Last year: 76
The big-hitting prop remains one of the most feared players in the NRL. His no-nonsense style has earned him a reputation on both ends of the field. The 23-year-old averaged over 120 metres gained and 32 tackles per game as he continues to establish himself as a future rep star.
The Kiwi forward has become a mainstay at the Broncos and he continues to grow as a vital cog in Wayne Bennett’s well-oiled machine. Glenn is a true professional who wasn’t deterred by starting games on the bench – in fact, he revelled in the role. His ability to impact games was key for the Broncos in the latter part of the year and he still managed to average 99 metres and over 20 tackles per game despite his reduced minutes.
Another one of the Raiders’ English imports to make huge strides in 2016 was Elliot Whitehead. The 27-year-old former Bradford bulldozer was an iron man for Canberra playing all 27 games and scoring six tries in the process. The no nonsense approach to defence that Whitehead brought to each game was one of the cornerstones of Canberra’s success in 2016.
The Cowboys centre raised his game to a new level in 2016 culminating in his selection in the Kangaroos squad for the Four Nations. O’Neill earned that honour on the back of 13 tries in 25 appearances for the defending premiers who fell at the second last hurdle. The former Storm centre is a proven try scorer but his ability to create for his teammates shone through in 2016.
He may be the splitting image of his father Ivan but even his Dad would admit this kid can do things on a rugby league field that even he couldn’t throughout his esteemed career. Cleary played like a seasoned veteran scoring three tries and kicking 52 goals on his way to 116 points in his rookie season. If things fall his way this teenager could turn out to be anything.
The Storm flanker broke Israel Folau’s club try scoring record on his way to becoming the competition’s leading try scorer in 2016. The Fijian flyer remarkably finished with 23 four pointers in only 21 games. Vunivalu fell just short of a maiden premiership and were it not for Ash Taylor he would have gone very close to rookie of the year honours.
Last year: 70
He may have struggled throughout the finals but Lachlan Coote was still one of the most consistent players for the Cowboys in 2016. The fullback scored five tries and took on more of a ball playing role to help his heavily targeted captain Johnathan Thurston. Coote’s kicking game is also heavily underrated and he will be better for a tough end to the season.