SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: James Tedesco of the Tigers runs the ball during the round two NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Penrith Panthers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on March 12, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby League’s Most Valuable

Another day, another round of NRL transfer gossip.

To save time on looking back through pages and pages of transfer rumours, everyone is linked to every club, for ridiculous money.

Cody Walker has reportedly demanded a pay rise. Given his form and importance to his side, you can’t fault him. James Maloney is said to be looking to cash in on years of brilliance and may have to leave the Sharks to do so.

I can’t blame either player, especially Maloney, who did what no other player in the history of the game has been able to do, and that is lead the Cronulla Sharks to a premiership.

It’s hard to blame players for inflating their worth given the ridiculous money being thrown around, especially when fringe first grader Mitch Moses signed a deal worth supposedly $800,000 a season. The way he has been playing, $8 is far too much.

As a quick aside, Moses should not only publicly say sorry for his ‘efforts’ over the past fortnight, but refuse to accept payment from the Tigers. NRL millennials aye?

Josh Dugan is supposedly about to sign a million dollar deal with the Sharks. On paper, Dugan, a rep mainstay and the Dragons best for as many years as he has been at the club, is worth many times more than what Moses is on, and I’d even go so far as to say more than what Ben Hunt has signed on for in 2018, but it’s strange considering he will likely switch to centre for his new club.

Well, I could either keep poking fun at truck loads of money being thrown around, or I could *ahem* put my money where my mouth is, and name the most valuable players in the NRL. More on the former in the future, especially if my boy Moses has yet another stinker for his new club, but for now, here are the NRL’s most valuable.

Note: This is not just about who is the best player in the competition. This takes into consideration the money I would see as a good deal offered if the player was to sign on next season. It takes into consideration the player’s current value, future potential, age and importance to a potential side. It’s naturally going to focus on players off contract, or recently re-signed, as it shows recent value, but also features players who are not off contract. Obviously, position plays a big role in a players value also. The monetary value listed is purely for fun.

James Tedesco

$1.5 million a season

At 24 years of age, Tedesco is the second best fullback in the game right now, possibly third should Billy Slater continue his form. He is five years younger than Darius Boyd and nine years Billy Slater’s junior. He has been the linchpin and has excelled in a pretty ordinary Tigers team. Imagine what this kid will do next season when he is surrounded by the likes of Cordner, Pearce and Friend. That Roosters forward pack and those halves will make Tedesco the best player in the game. The Tigers should have handed a blank contract for six years and asked him to name his price. He is not the best player in the game right now, but if all contracts were voided and reset, Tedesco is the first player I would sign.

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Jason Taumalolo

$1.4 million a season

Taumalolo is the most damaging forward in the game, and at only 23 years of age, has 10 or so years to get even better. If Tedesco is the most valuable player in the game, Taumalolo is only slightly behind him, and only due to the importance fullbacks play in the modern game. As good as the likes of Gallen and co are, there is no other player in the competition like the reigning Dally M medalist. His deal with the Cowboys looks like it could be a risky one, given the length and money on offer, but I can’t name an NRL club that wouldn’t have made the same commitment in the same situation.

Johnathan Thurston

$1.2 million a season

I know he is 34, and his body is showing signs of wear and tear, but Thurston is the game’s most important player, and I’m willing to now say the best player of the generation. If you want to win a premiership next season, Thurston is the first player you’d sign. I cannot provide enough praise for the Cowboys champion, but even at 34, with probably one or two seasons max left in his body, a million would be a bargain considering what he brings to the table.

Tom Trbojevic

$1 million a season

Fanboy alert! This kid is the definition of special. Robbed of an Origin jersey due to injury, Tommy Turbo is the man I’d sign if Tedesco were not available. He’s already among the game’s elite, yet is not even old enough to have a beer in the States. He has a mountain of rep jerseys in his future and just may be the game’s premier youngster. A million a season is ridiculous money for a 20-year-old, but this kid can do it all. Only a serious injury will stop him from becoming a monster superstar. To sum up his brilliance, Manly fans have stopped mentioned the name of Brett Stewart in every sentence. That says a LOT.

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Cameron Smith

$1 million a season

Another elder player who could very easily justify earning seven figures in a season. Smith is the game’s best ever hooker, there I said it. I certainly have never seen anyone anywhere near as good in my 30 years. Anything beforehand doesn’t count. Of course, I jest but there are better judges than myself making similar statements about the Storm, Maroon and Kangaroos legend. The game’s best organiser and captain. He seemingly breaks records every week and still has plenty to offer. He won’t be around forever, or will he? The word immortal comes to mind.

Anyone else?

I this current day, the above five players are the only names I would throw a million dollars a season at. In their day Greg Inglis and Billy Slater would have collected the magical figure, while Sam Burgess would go awfully close, especially in 2014. Paul Gallen could have asked for two million when he was carrying the Sharks on his back for years. Pre-NFL Jarryd Hayne would be a bargain at only a million. The Titans look as though they’ll pay $1.2 for the 2017 version.

Of the current crop, Anthony Milford is probably as close to a million dollar player outside those listed above. Matt Gillett and Boyd Cordner would be the second rowers closest to that value. A fully fit and firing Andrew Fifita would be the only front rower I’d even consider breaking the bank for. Actually, throw James Graham 2015 in there also.

Lockyer, Johns and Lewis would be millionaires many times over if they had played in the current time.

I wouldn’t pay a winger or centre anywhere near that kind of money unless they were a once in a lifetime kind of player.

If Israel Folau were to the return to the game, he could certainly demand a million. I wouldn’t pay it, but I know most clubs would. He’d have to learn how to tackle again of course. Although, commercially, the interest and corp and merch sales he would generate would become a factor.

Sonny Bill Williams is worth that figure every day of the week.

Are clubs simply throwing huge money around given they expect the cap to rise massively next season? Is it desperation? Or are players simply worth more these days?

Let us know below who you believe are the most valuable players in our game.


    • The mail is it will be announced after the 10-day cooling off period expires.
      Next Tuesday or most likely Wednesday the 24th is that day.

      This $2.1M over 3 years, is speculation but that includes TPAs.

  1. $800k a season for Moses. wtf.
    I hope it’s not history repeating, ala the mega Sandow contract.

  2. Tedesco is better than Boyd. Boyd is the most over rated player in the game. I would take Tedesco, Trbjovic, Slater, Munster and Hayne all before Boyd. I would even take Ponga ahead of him for next year, if I had the choice.

    Did the author think that Boyd was an elite fullback, when he was playing for Newcastle?

  3. Josh Dugan ‘ the Dragons best for as many years as he has been at the club’ ? I don’t many Dragons fans would agree.
    James Tedesco is an interesting case study in media hype. Blisteringly fast, for sure, but not even approaching the all round skill level and performance of Billy the Kid at his best. Also behind Boyd, IMO. Will he get there, maybe if he stays relatively injury free.
    I think a number of the players mentioned above would already be on contracts (for a number of seasons) in excess of $1.0 million.

  4. Smith and Thurston, even at their age, would be worth every cent a club could muster – $1.5m+ each would not be too little.
    The value they would bring to a team both on and off the fields I don’t think could ever be measured accurately.
    Tommy T is seriously over valued at the moment, he has had 1 1/2 seasons in the top grade and has yet to show that value in terms of longevity or marketability – no doubting he has the potential but too many cheques have been cashed on potential and end up bouncing.
    Matt Gillett and Boyd Cordner are getting close to that very elite level, but as backrowers of their ilk, they would be unlikely to attract the top tier payments.
    Would Issy really demand 1m a season? 2-3 years ago yes, now? not so sure.
    At the end of the day though, most clubs have that one player who their club is likely to pay 1m a season to, but most other clubs would baulk at (unless they needed that one player to attract other quality players, eg WT, NEW at the moment).
    So as with everything in a free market economy – their value is only what someone is willing to pay, placing an arbitrary value on them is like valuing Sydney real estate – fraught with danger.

    • Tom Trbojevic over Valued? I’m sorry mate but are you serious? Hes had almost 3 years in the top grade and proved the best young player in the game. And it’s not potential when you are doing what he is which is physically winning games by himself for manly, potential is possibly but he is actually doing these things he could have potentially done, he’s surpassing them. He has been the NRL best fullback this year by a country mile. Manly got him cheap for what he is going to produce soon.

      • of course you dont agree with me (and thats fine) however my justification for the remark is based on
        – he has only played 42 games of NRL
        – he has yet to play Origin
        – he has yet to play for Australia
        All the players that are worth 1m plus in my eyes are either future immortals, ESTABLISHED Australian/Kiwi reps, ESTABLISHED SOO reps , played 100 games or more in the NRL – Tom has yet to achieve any of that.
        Also note the other part of my comment – “at the moment”, I don’t doubt that if his career continues in the same vain as it has to date, then he may be able to lay claim to that tag but at the moment it cannot be justified.
        He is not the best FB in the game, nor even in NSW, or even in Sydney – so you need to look at things in perspective and look at things overall not just with your manly eyes.
        And for the record – its not a criticism just my observation backed up by facts and statistics, not with emotion.
        But as always if someone makes a comment that isn’t a long the lines of “so and so Manly player is the best” then you take offence.

        • Mate your comments are pretty silly, this year Tom has been the best fullback in the game and is the best young player in the game.

        • holmesy – I never expect you to agree with anything other “tommy t is the best player in the game” “dce is the best half in the game” “uate is the best winger in the game” and so on,
          Tell me why you justify your comments, I gave you mine and they are factual not based on emotion or rose coloured glasses.
          Fact is he hasn’t played origin, hasn’t played for Australia or the Kiwis and has only played 42 games thus a 1m price is yet to be justified.
          IN saying that, I also don’t believe Bird, Milford, Hunt, Woods, Tedesco or the like justify a price tag of 1m – however that’s what the free market economy has paid them.
          If Tommy was on the market he may get an offer of 1m – but it it doesn’t mean it is justified.
          IMHO Boyd has been by far and away the best fullback in the game due to his durability, consistency and longevity, even though I am most definitely no fan of his. Tedesco, Tommy, Slater and Wighton have all had their moments and been very good at times, Boyd has the been the best over the course of this season and last.

        • Sorry my phones beimg stupid that was regarded at the dragons fan who has no clue amd I’d say ash taylor is the best young player in the game but tom is right up there but you have to consider what age you stop saying young cos taumalolo is still young and he’s better than tommy

      • Well you just prived you’re an idiot bkyd is easily the worlds best fullback if he wasn’t at the dragons they don’t win in 2010 and yes boyd was elite at newcastle before his depression we fell one game short of the grand final in 2013 and boyd was killing it! Tedesco isn’t even half the player boyd is you obviously just watch the big plays the amount boyd does off the ball with his positional play and defence and organizing he is miles ahead of tedesco i wouldn’t even pick teddy for the blues the way he’s playing and boydnon the other hand has never lost a game for australia I honestly don’t know why tedesco is rated so highly and tbh if you think any fullback is better than boyd (slater is very close but not quite) than it just proves that you don’t actually watch rugby league there’s a reason why bennett and meninga always want him in their teams. It’s cos he is a superstar

      • Well you just proved you’re an idiot boyd is easily the worlds best fullback if he wasn’t at the dragons they don’t win in 2010 and yes boyd was elite at newcastle before his depression we fell one game short of the grand final in 2013 and boyd was killing it! Tedesco isn’t even half the player boyd is you obviously just watch the big plays the amount boyd does off the ball with his positional play and defence and organizing he is miles ahead of tedesco i wouldn’t even pick teddy for the blues the way he’s playing and boydnon the other hand has never lost a game for australia I honestly don’t know why tedesco is rated so highly and tbh if you think any fullback is better than boyd (slater is very close but not quite) than it just proves that you don’t actually watch rugby league there’s a reason why bennett and meninga always want him in their teams. It’s cos he is a superstar

        • Look at the Stats boys Tom has been the best fullback this year by far. Boyd is the best fullback in the NRL. I’m not saying he’s the best but he’s been the best this year. And Tom will be an origin and Aus rep in 2018 and for a long long time. I don’t think Tom is the best, I think Tom has been best this year and Stats and professionals will back me up, but Boyd is by far even though I hate him is the best fullback. I NEVER SAID TOM IS A BETTER FULLBACK THAN BOYD! And Billy stop bringing manly into it, I was talking tom, not manly. So stop trying to fight me and let’s have a structured sophisticated conversation. If Tom played for another club my thoughts would have been exactly the same. So stop using your yellow coloured glasses and your grudges and instead talk normally.

        • holmesy, no grudge mate and I am not trying to fight you, I just expressed my opinion and provided my justification for it, but you don’t agree and that’s fine.
          To quote you “Mate your comments are pretty silly” – but you don’t provide any substance or argument why…….back up your opinion with something other than just rhetoric or headlines.
          If you look at my original and subsequent posts, I think you will find that the discussion and points I have made are a structured and sophisticated conversation. But then…………

        • Hey mate all fair points, I’m a bit of a walker I know I usually start my arguments with my heart not my head. I need to think before angrily attacking you and I know that. I just didn’t agree with your opinion, same as you did with me. All good. TBH I only think 2 players are worth the money they are on, JT and Smith and Cronk not far behind.

  5. Tedesco is again being paid on potential and what ifs. He certainly is being paid on his CV which reads 1 game for NSW. Boyd at least has the runs on the board.

    • Paid By Potential? He is a heaps good player and has showed his brilliance at an ordinary team like the tigers. He is the reason they have won one game this year. Boyd is terrible now and is VERY overrated.

      • Hahahahahaha you idiot boyd is far better than tedesco je showed it last night teddy tries to do it all himself and fails

  6. I would have Sam Burgess on the $1M+ list.

    He fair dinkum carries Souths on his own most matches. Yes, there are flashes of brilliance from the halves, but they would get beaten by plenty every week without Sam.

    A great player at the top of his game.

  7. Sterlo must be pissed he’s not playing now ,if Moses is on 800k Sterlo would be on 2.8 million a season at Parra.
    wonder what he thinks about that money for a non play making turnstile .

  8. I don’t understand people saying Darius Boyd is the best fullback we have,
    He’s like 6th or 7th and that’s being kind, Put Michael Lichaa outside Greg Inglis in that historic Maroons team and he’d look good, Maybe it’s his attitude I hate I don’t know but I think he’s 💩

    • it would be interesting to compare wouldn’t it – under todays salary cap rules it wouldnt be possible to accommodate them all. Maybe something like
      Taylor $650
      Grothe SR -750k
      Cronin $900
      Ella $750
      Hunt $400
      Kenny $1.25m
      Sterlo $1.1m
      and throw in Ray Price at $850k

  9. It’s hard to compare footballers from past eras. Good as that Parra backline was look at how small they were compared to today’s players. Plus the game was so much slower. Sterlo may have been quick between the ears but he was dead slow.

    • you’re correct – its difficult to compare players of different eras, however I think tank and I were looking to make comparisons of that backline in $$ terms only.

  10. No your point is valid. The interesting one will be Maloney who is having a bitch about being underpaid and said he may have to look elsewhere. As he is contracted to the Sharks for next year it might just be a case of bad luck Jimmy.

  11. I think James Maloney was awesome last year both for the Sharks and for NSW but his form this year hasn’t just been flat, he has been the most penalized player in the comp by a fair margin and he supposed to be a play maker not an enforcer.

    If he doesn’t shape up for Origin those penalties could cost NSW a game or two.

  12. i reckon no player 1.5M

    Thurston 1.4M
    Tedesco 1.3M
    Cronk 1.3M
    Trbojevic 1.1M
    Taumalolo 1.1M
    Smith 1M
    Hayne 950K
    Cherry Evans 900K
    and so on… The biggest rip off of 2017 so far is Moses 850k. RIDICULOUS FOR HIM EVEN AS A TIGERS FAN!!! Glad to get rid of a player who misses 8 tackles a game for 850k. I think biggest bargain is Chris McQueen (im not being that bios). He is going for 400K! And still half of Moses price and 400 times better. I think 1.5M for a player is too much and i wouldn’t pay that for tede.

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