The annual NRL Players’ Poll has crowned a new top dog as the best player in the competition, with Cameron Smith finally dethroned.
The Herald and The Age, in conjunction with NRL.com, polled 150 players from all 16 clubs to get their thoughts on a range of topics.
In part one, the players give their opinion on the game’s best player in each position, the top coach, the best player, the best buy, who will win the competition and which team they would join if they had to leave their club.
Cameron Smith’s reign as the best player in the NRL is over. James Tedesco is now seen as the premier player by his peers, claiming almost half of the votes.
Smith, has won this vote in the previous two years, dropped to third with Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo leapfrogging him into second spot. Manly’s Tom Trbojevic and Mitchell Moses rounded out the top five.
Craig Bellamy was also dethroned, with back-to-back premiership coach Trent Robinson now deemed the No.1 coach in the game.
Robinson dominated the poll ahead of Bellamy and South Sydney’s Wayne Bennett. Adam O’Brien and Ivan Cleary, also snuck into the top five after their teams’ dramatic improvements in 2020.
Daniel Topou was seen as the game’s best winger, while teammate Joseph Manu was deemed the games best centre. Fellow Rooster Luke Keary capped off an all-Rooster back line in a dominant display for the premiers.
Mitchell Pearce came out as the game’s leading halfback after a career resurgence at the Newcastle Knights.
While not being voted as the games best player, Smith was still voted to be the best hooker and captain in the competition.
Tigers recruit Harry Grant came out as the best buy of the season and unsurprisingly the game’s best rookie. Jason Taumalolo is the players’ favourite to win the Dally M Medal after a strong start to the season.
Unsurprisingly, the Roosters are seen as premiership favourites and therefore are a destination club with 23% of players saying they’d choose to play at Bondi if they were to depart their current club.
Part two will be released at midday on Tuesday, which will look into the biggest talking points in the game, including the success of the rule changes, the performance of head office, the potential for a standalone Origin series in the middle of the season, when the grand final should be played and more.