It’s undoubtedly true that every successful NRL side has a strong spine - the spine players inject creativity, guidance and structure, and touch the ball more than any other player on the field.

The fullback, halfback, five-eighth and hooker control all of the action, direct traffic and are normally the best players on the park, receiving much of the credit when things go right, but equally much of the backlash when things go wrong.

In recent years, the NRL has been blessed with some of the greatest ever spine talent, with Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Jake Friend (to name a few) as well as current megastars Nathan Cleary, James Tedesco and Daly Cherry-Evans.

With 2022 set to be as fast, physical and competitive as ever, the sides with the best spines will continue to blow bottom sides out of the water.

Remembering that this is a ranking of spines rather than a ladder prediction, here is how we view each of the club's best spine options for 2022.

See Part 2 here.


1. (16) Wests Tigers

Daine Laurie, Jackson Hastings (Adam Doueihi), Luke Brooks, Jacob Liddle

Honestly, it's hard to see where the Tigers’ points are going to come from here, and none of these four inspire great confidence defence-wise either.

Liddle had an uninspiring 2021 and threw an unacceptable amount of forward passes, while Luke Brooks has barely fired a shot the last two seasons.

Adam Doueihi was a shining light in 2021, but will miss the start of the season due to his ACL injury late last season. Jackson Hastings had his troubles in his last NRL stint, and may take time to warm up to his role, and would probably be better in the lock or utility role that Tyrone Peachey is filling.

Daine Laurie is a star and will undoubtedly make his mark, but is still less than 30 games into his career and may be weighed down being the main creative spark of an entire NRL side at just 21.