Ahead of the new season we name who we view as the top 10 underrated players in the NRL.
DAVID SIMMONS (Panthers)
The top try-scorer in the NRL last year, Simmons is often the forgotten man. A former Cronulla Shark, the 29-year-old has developed into a quality winger during his four seasons at the foot of the mountains. Simmons is safe under the high ball, agile, quick and has a knack of finding his way to the tryline.
JUSTIN HORO (Sea Eagles)
Not rated by the Parramatta decision makers, Horo put the doubters in their place with an impressive 2013. A the end of 2012, the 27-year-old backrower was unsure whether he would even be playing in the NRL until the Sea Eagles picked him up in what proved to be one of the buys of the year. With leg speed, upper body strength and solid defensive technique, Horo is pushing his case for New Zealand selection.
MITCHELL AUBUSSON (Roosters)
The 26-year-old has been tipped as a future NSW Origin player for good reason. A centre-backrower, the premiership winner is a consummate professional. Boasting an elusive running game, solid tackling technique and ability to find a hole on the field, Aubusson’s ability to run clever angles makes life easy for the likes of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.
NIGEL PLUM (Panthers)
Named by most as the hardest hitter in the game, many describe running into the Penrith prop as like hitting a brick wall. In his 10th season of playing in the NRL, the 30-year-old not only provides rock-solid defence but ample go-forward, which lays the platform for his outside backs to work off of.
RAY THOMPSON (Cowboys)
Whether he is playing halfback or hooker, Thompson is silky smooth with the ball whether it is in hand or on foot. Injury has plagued him throughout his short career and while he is returning from a broken jaw this year, the 24-year-old has established a formidable combination with Johnathan Thurston.
DENE HALATAU (Wests Tigers)
It is easy to forget the former Kiwi international is a 15-Test veteran. Having started his career at the Wests Tigers back in 2003, Halatau is a utility in every sense. With the ability to play in the centres, hooker, backrow and lock, the 30-year-old is a premiership winner. A hard worker with a no-nonsense attitude to the game, Halatau’s leadership will be invaluable for a young Tigers side this season.
JOSH MCGUIRE (Broncos)
The interchange forward is another no-nonsense type of player. He runs hard and he runs straight. With a hard-hitting solid frame, it is little wonder he is pushing his claims for a Queensland State of Origin debut. The 23-year-old is capable of playing plenty of minutes and a long-term prospect at the club.
BRAD TIGHE (Titans)
The 29-year-old is a more than handy replacement for Jamal Idris at the Gold Coast. Like a fine wine, the former Knight and Panther continues to better with age. Not only does Tighe have agile feet and a very handy left-foot step, he also pace to burn. Tighe can not only work as a member of a team but is also capable of producing individual brilliance.
JOEL THOMPSON (Dragons)
A new recruit from Canberra, the Indigenous All Stars representative can pull off an inspirational hit just when his team needs it. A rangy backrower who can double as a centre, the 25-year-old has leg speed, a handy offload and deceptive upper body strength. Despite leaving the Raiders to sign a rich three-year-deal with the Dragons, Thompson’s ability to hit a hole and find space will be a huge gain for the Red V.
WILL CHAMBERS (Storm)
In a team of superstars where the Big Three receive all the accolades, the Melbourne centre often goes unnoticed. The owner of a handy right-foot step, Chambers’ fancy footwork often has him find his way to the tryline. Not only is the 25-year-old is safe under the high ball but he has blistering speed, which was exemplified last season when he bailed Shaun Johnson into touch having run him down from the other side of the field in cover defence.