MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Cameron Smith and Craig Bellamy of the Storm hold up the NRL premiership trophy during the Melbourne Storm NRL Grand Final celebrations at Gosch's Paddock on October 2, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

With over 100 players completing NRL.com’s Players’ Poll for 2018 prior to the Origin period, the following lists are representative of the thoughts of those who know the game the best.

Players and coaches associated with the Melbourne Storm feature prominently in Part 1 of the survey, with the players asked to name the best coach, fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker in the NRL.

Almost 50% of those surveyed believe Craig Bellamy is the game’s best coach, with Wests Tigers boss Ivan Cleary the only other boss to receive over 10% of votes.

Best coach:

Craig Bellamy 48%
Ivan Cleary 17%
Wayne Bennett 8%
Paul Green 4%
Stephen Kearney 4%

 

Billy Slater was an easy selection for the game’s best fullback according to the players, with six in every 10 suggesting there’s no one who wears the No. 1 jersey better. It looks as though the players believe Kalyn Ponga is the fullback of the future.

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Best fullback:

Billy Slater 60%
Kalyn Ponga 11%
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 10%
Tom Trbojevic 6%
James Tedesco 5%

 

With votes coming before the representative period, James Maloney’s tally could have been every greater, given he led the Blues to an impressive Origin series win. Gareth Widdop was a close second, with the Dragons getting off to a flyer to start the season.

Best five-eighth:

James Maloney 36%
Gareth Widdop 20%
Cameron Munster 13%
Blake Green 11%
Anthony Milford 9%

 

It looks as though most players are getting better with age, as Johnathan Thurston is still the greatest halfback in the game in 2018. It might not be long before Nathan Cleary steals that mantle, given the 20-year-old is already rated among the top three players in his position.

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Best halfback:

Johnathan Thurston 35%
Ben Hunt 19%
Nathan Cleary 11%
Shaun Johnson 11%
Cooper Cronk 9%

 

Finally, Cameron Smith is still the best hooker in the game, and may be one of the best No. 9’s the game has ever produced. In the most lop-sided position in terms of voting, Smith gathered two-thirds of all the votes, with Kiwi Issac Luke rated his closest competitor.

Best hooker:

Cameron Smith 66%
Issac Luke 11%
Damien Cook 8%
Apisai Koroisau 4%
Cameron McInnes 3%

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. What an absolute heap of garbage. What over a hundred players (may be 110) out of 17 players times 16 teams = 272 which is only 40% of the players. All players needed to be polled to get a fair result. How is Keary who was the next in line and 18th man for NSW not mentioned Blake Green, or How is Stephen Kearney a better coach than Robinson who has timed the Roosters run to perfection won a premiership and 3 minor premierships. This poll is garbage.

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