NRL Rd 16 - Eels v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs looks on during the round 16 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on August 27, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The days of the NRL centre playing on one side of the field and the other centre on the opposite side are over.

Players in the centre position now play across the entirely of the field.

The new age centre is highly athletic and fit enough to impact the attack from various places on the ground. Players like Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic are the pioneers of this sort of positional play.

Trbojevic showed this method when he dominated the 2021 Origin Series, roaming the whole field. He was rarely found staying on his designated side of the field and often broke in-field to create different options in attack. This was hugely successful, as Trbojevic won the player of the series award.

Most of the best centres in the league often have played the fullback position before. It seems the bigger backs have decided to move into the centres as the game has changed. Another reason for fullbacks moving to the centres is the more touches of the ball they get. They then have more say in the offence and often have more chances to challenge the try-line.

The increase in scoring among centres have made them more valuable. NRL teams now need to have a strike centre to keep up with the demand of the current game. They attempt to convert wingers and other backs into middle players. Now a great centre is just has valuable, if not more, than the edge players. The importance of the centre is as high as it has ever been.

Another unique change in centre development is halves moving to the position. Penrith Panthers player Matt Burton is top ten for tries this season and traditionally was a half.

This is mostly out of need, due to the others Panther stars taking up key positions, but he's been very good at centre. Now teams will use their centre as a game-breaker who can impact the opposition's defence all across the field. Defending a centre that plays effectively out of position is very difficult.

The centre position has grown so much over the years. The position now more than ever has become the most important role within a team in the NRL. The importance is because a good centre tackles well across the field but then can also turn a game in attack. The centres nowadays are two-way players.

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