So we at Zero Tackle thought, why not put together a 17-man side where no club could have more than one player?
Which fullback do you take? How do you fit a player from the bottom clubs into the side?
The only other rule is that (within reason), no player should play out of position.
Without further ado, here is the side.
Fullback - Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
Turbo Tom takes out the fullback spot, although it is difficult to leave out James Tedesco. When fit and healthy the 2021 Dally M winner is the most potent attacking weapon in the game, scoring 28 tries and setting up a further 28 that year.
Wingers - Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Dominic Young (Newcastle Knights)
The reigning Ken Irvine medal winner, Alex Johnston has topped the try scorer's list for the past three seasons, scoring 83 tries since 2020.
The other wing spot belongs to Newcastle's Dominic Young, whose large frame and remarkable finishing ability make him a valuable asset on the opposite wing.
Centres - Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters) and Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys)
Manu and Holmes make up a dangerous centre combination. Manu was one of the most elusive players in 2022, tallying 145 tackle breaks, the second most in the competition.
With Holmes, you not only get a dangerous strike weapon with the ball but also a safe kicking option. Holmes broke the Cowboys point scoring record for a season last year scoring 10 tries and 100 goals whilst kicking at a rate of 82%.
Five-Eighth - Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
Munster is an easy option at five-eighth due to his elusive footwork, tackle-breaking ability and freakish game sense. There are few better players to have in your side during a big game.
Halfback - Nicho Hynes (Cronulla Sharks)
The 2022 Dally M winner forms a dynamic halves combination with his former Melbourne teammate. Hynes led last year's competition in linebreak assists (29) and field goals (4) as well as coming joint third for try assists on 21.
Props - Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders) & Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels)
Tapine and Paulo form a formidable duo in the front row. Tapine totalled the most post-contact metres of any player in 2022, beating out both Jason Taumalolo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
Paulo offers some unique ball skills for a big man playing in the centre third and both players can create plenty of second-phase play, equalling 47 offloads each in the 2022 season.
Hooker - Apisai Koroisau (Wests Tigers)
It is no coincidence that the Penrith Panthers' period of success since 2020 came after Koroisau returned to the club. The duel premiership winner with Penrith now hopes to bring similar success to the concord after being named captain of the Wests Tigers.
Second-row - Viliame Kikau (Canterbury Bulldogs) & Felise Kaufusi (The Dolphins)
Another recruit out of the Panthers' back-to-back premiership-winning stable, big Bill Kikau brings plenty of punch on the edge and is a dangerous option near the try line.
Felise Kaufusi was the first man Wayne Bennett signed when building the Dolphins roster and not without reason. The Melbourne Storm premiership winner and Queensland Origin representative will bring experience and organisation to the right edge.
Lock - Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers)
An invaluable member of the Panthers, Yeo is the hallmark of the modern-day ball-playing lock serving as the fifth member of the Penrith spine. His value was reflected in the Dally M count last year when he was ranked second on the table before voting went behind the curtains in Round 13.
Interchange - Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos) & Tohu Harris (New Zealand Warriors)
Ben Hunt serves as an ideal jersey 14 given his ability to slot into both the halves and hooking role at a world-class level. He possesses a crafty kicking game to boot, having snagged 6 40/20s last season, twice as much as the next best in the competition.
The youngest captain in the NRL, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui takes the second bench spot. He has been a regular feature for the Queensland Maroons since debuting in 2020 and even got his first shot for the Kangaroos in last year's Rugby League World Cup.
It was a toss-up between choosing Carrigan or Haas from the Broncos but we all remember the impact Carrigan had for Queensland last year coming off the bench in Origin.
The Warriors captain takes the final spot in the 17, Tohu Harris adds some versatility to the interchange since he can slot into the second row, front row or at lock forward.
Best Combined NRL 17
- Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
- Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
- Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters)
- Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys)
- Dominic Young (Newcastle Knights)
- Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
- Nicho Hynes (Cronulla Sharks)
- Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders)
- Apisai Koroisau (Wests Tigers)
- Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels)
- Viliame Kikau (Canterbury Bulldogs)
- Felise Kaufusi (The Dolphins)
- Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers)
- Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
- Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans)
- Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)
- Tohu Harris (New Zealand Warriors)