Every NRL player has to ply their trade under pressure. Whether it be the pressure of their coach, their fans, or the players themselves, everyone expects the best out of every player across the competition.

That said, there are certain players who really need to shine in 2019.

That may sound silly, as every player needs to play well, but the below five players will enter the new year under increased scrutiny and pressure.

This list could be 100 players long, but as I see it right now, these five players are looking to have huge off-seasons so they can hit the ground running in 2019.


5. Kieran Foran

I’m a big fan of Foran but he is far from the player he was during his Manly days. He’s on a huge contract and was recruited to be the man to return the Bulldogs back to the finals.

In 2018 he was awful. I say that with the greatest respect but he in no way justified his massive price tag through a combination of injury and sub par form.

The Bulldogs played much better footy after Foran’s injury forced a reshuffle in the side so his return will be met with huge scrutiny from fans in blue and white.

He is, by far, the Dogs biggest name and biggest star, and if they are ANY hope of a winning season, the New Zealand half needs to fire, in a big way.

Whether or not he still has it in him after a series of injury plagued seasons is in question.

If he doesn’t start well, Dogs fans will want him dropped to see the young halves combination returned.

Given the huge money Foran is on, it will take a very brave man to drop him to NSW cup either way.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 30: Kieran Foran of the Bulldogs passes during the round four AFL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on March 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)


  1. Yes I would agree with all those players mentioned, I almost forgot about Morgan who lead the Cowboys to a grand final from halfback without Thurston last season 2017. Bird will be under bulk pressure also after his shocking season but if he does not play in the halves but at centre then perhaps the organisation will not be as much pressure with the responsibility of that falling on the organisers in the halves.

    Which leads me to who I think will be under the most pressure in 2019. Young Penrith halfback Cleary under the coaching of his father will be under the microscope big time and if he does not go to the next level then will his father being willing to chastise him in a professional manner❓❓❓❓❓❓ Will Cleary if, and I think it is a massive if, he gets picked for NSW will he be a passenger again❓❓❓❓❓❓❓ Nathan Cleary is Penrith’s future and the entire World out West is on His shoulders.💪👴👍🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱

      • Panthers18 your love for the Panthers gave you tunnel vision mate. Cleary did nothing in attack or organisation but did make a few crucial tackles. Very quite series from the rookie half. In fact played more like a rookie centre. Maloney did most of the work. Cleary went along for the experience ride. 🎱🎯✔

        The way Pearce played for Newcastle this season and if he can repeat that form and not get injured this time will be the Blues halfback without a doubt. He missed half a season and finished about 5th in the dally M Awards. 💪🐔👍

        • OMFG, WoodChook, Nathan, and James, did what they were told to do. Also Nathan was 20 at the time, and he is a better player than Pearce. Pearce has proven time, and again, that he isn’t origin material,

        • As yours does too. Pearce, being a former Sydney Rooster player, and you say my judgement is clouded? Pearce has failed at origin before, now it is Nathans turn.

        • Well as an “impartional”, I’d say Cleary had a great season, but he was “average” at rep level. By average, average being he held his own at that level (didn’t look out of place). Now factor in it being his first year, his age, his no of NRL games etc, not to mention the position he plays, and you’d have to give him a very big thumbs up, but at the same time, I’m sure he fell short of many people’s “expectations/his potential”.
          For what it’s worth I rate Cleary, but pre the SOO, I was against running him, because I thought it was too early, and with the benefit of hinsight I think running him was the right call. Certainly from a medium/long term NSW’s perspective.
          That said, I do agree with WoodChook in that he should be under enourmous pressure, but on the plus side (for him), I don’t think he’d fully appreciate it yet. The way I see it, his salary is now factoring in his “max potential”, and add his Dad’s salary to that, plus the club/NRL chaos, plus the “VIP” egos, and duration of the deals etc, and if he isn’t the top (or very close) half in the comp in the next couple of years, he’s failed (failed a lot of people).

        • Everyone failed Panther18 for a decade or so. Not just Pearce. You are forgetting he played in the era when Queensland had the greatest side in their history. A spine of Slater, Thurston, Cronk and Smith where very much undefeatable.

          But with Thurston, Cronk and co out last season, NSW won without a halfback and had Pearce and Maloney who won a premiership together, played last season without Queensland’s Famous spine. Then NSW wins 3-0 not 2-1 with a passenger halfback in Cleary.

          To put it bluntly Panther18 With Pearce injured NSW could of put Moses or Penrith’s reserve grade half Luai there and we would still have won 2-1 with the way Maloney played those two positions in game 1 and 2 at half and 5/8. 💪🎱👍

        • True, but, Pearce kept on being picked. Nathan Cleary should be afforded the same opportunity. Live in your fantasy land, Nathan did well.

        • Averaging 6.3 for his three Origins player ratings only proves one thing Panther18. Your fantasy has become reality😁😆😂🤣

      • Panthers18 Cleary did very little in attack. These are his player ratings from the NRL official website.

        Game 1 Nathan Cleary: Played second fiddle but didn’t look overawed by the occasion, even with Greg Inglis trying to bury him beneath the MCG cricket pitch. Above all he played tough, more than held his own in defence. 6.5

        Game 2 Nathan Cleary: Won’t be in many more highlight reels than he was in game one but got through his kicks and tackles. Late cover tackle on Valentine Holmes was a thing of beauty. Did his job and should be in the role for a long time. 6.5

        Game 3 Nathan Cleary: Once more did his best work in defence, more than holding his own in the line and covering a couple of kicks that had Queensland points all over them. Looked more comfortable steering the side without Maloney out there, but struggled to take charge with the game on the line. 6

        Nothing is mention about his attack because it was non existent. Panthers18 you have to take your patriotic glasses 🕶 off mate then you can talk facts, not one eyed Penrith supporter rubbish. In his three origins he averaged a rating of 6.33. Like I said he did well in defence but his attack was poor. 🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱

        • Which brings me back to this article about who is under a heap of Pressure in 2019. I believe Nathan Cleary being a halfback is under massive pressure to perform now that he has two things to worry about. His dad’s job and his own job. For if he does not lead the team around the park and gets a eight birth then his Dad’s job will be very shaky. Matter of fact if Penrith do not show big improvement on last season performance and at least get a top four place then Gould will be looking for near future coach replacements. This is added fuel for Nathan to perform for family honour.👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦💪😎👍

        • Same with you, WoodChook, Pearce being a former rooster player I get your bias, however, Pearce had a lot of chances, Nathan should be afforded the same right.

        • What halfback is told to go out on State of Origin night and do no organising but just kick the ball and tackle and do nothing in attack. He is a halfback and he should demand the football as a first receiver. You no very little about Rugby League Panthers18 if you believe Fittler instructed Cleary to be a passenger in attack.

          As for Pearce, I have no ongoing support for him now he is a Newcastle player. I follow the Sydney Roosters and Pearce had the chance to stay at the Roosters but opted to go through pride. He did not want to learn off the best halfback in the world. Which cost him a premiership, but YOU should realise when players leave Penrith do you still follow them. ❓❔❓❔❓Do you still follow Hasler as a Penrith fan😂😁🤣😆🤣😂❓❓❓❓❓

          All I said was Pearce would have been selected on form before Cleary but he got injured, when he returned after missing about 9 or 10 games he still polled much higher than Cleary in the Dally M awards. I know we need a young NSW player at half and Cleary is winning the race but if he wants to retain that position he had better play the real halfback role or kiss his origin career goodbye. If he doesn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck then the pressure will see him fail and other players will get his place. Regardless of age. That may be Pearce, Brooks or Reynolds. Are you sure your a Panther ❓❔❓❔. You carry on like a rabbit🐇 😂🤣😆😁🤣😂

        • OMG, Nathan was being PROTECTED. He did okay. Pearce has had his chances, and now it is Nathans turn to shine.

        • How many chances does he get❓❓❓❔❔❓❔❔❓❓❓This is the equation Panther18. Lift the attacking game or get a lift to the away ground in Penrith’s bus while the Origin is on🤣😆😂😁😆😂🤣💪🎱👉✔

    • Huge fan of the Panthers over the last couple season and there rebuild they have done. With it likely to be either DWZ or Edwards (for me DWZ) fullback, Luai and Cleary the halves combo who will take the next big step at proving themselves as a good young first grade hooker for the Panthers. I know there’s Wade Egan, Sione Katoa and Tyrone May but none really shone last season.

      For me I’d be looking to sign Blayke Brailey or Reece Robson as these guys are future guys and would suit the young core. Trent Merin just left so there must be a fair bit of money to throw at one of them. Particularly Robson he’s ready to play NRL as is stuck behind McInnes. I think they could also invest in another young but cheap second rower for depth to replace Corey Haraweira-Naera just as Josh Aloia (23) or Tepai Moeroa (23).

      1. DWZ
      2. Mansour
      3. Whare
      4. Blake
      5. Edwards
      6. Maloney
      7. Cleary
      8. RCG
      9. ROBSON
      10. Tamou
      11. Kikau
      12. Yeo
      13. Fisher-Harris

      14. May
      15. Leota
      16. ALOIA/MOEROA
      17. Hetherington/McKendry/Sele/Ellis

      Release S. Katoa, J. Cartwright if needed

      • I like the idea of May or Aetkins making the switch to centre in place of Whare. Both have played centre before & have way more to offer than Whare as players. Another possibility is DWZ at centre. Played well at centre in first grade before, when others were injured. Add into the mix Brian Too. Future first grader for sure.
        Edwards was the best support player in the competition from fullback , before injury cut short his 2018 season.

    • Pearce is a good regular season player but way more miss than hit in the big games… the Blues need to move forward, not backwards

      • For me the penny panthers have the team to win the comp in 2019. As for Pierce if he gets picked he will finally live out his dream to win an origin seires without the storm big 3 and Thurston preventing it now. If he gets picked and NSW dont win Pierce needs to be sent to the moon on a 1 way ticket.

    • I agree that Cleary will be under a huge amount of pressure.
      The good thing is that he will be at Penrith & not at the Roosters. As so many tried to make us all believe during 2018.
      He will also have a good amount of help in the halves. With Maloney, Luai , May as other good halves at the club.
      That may not mean a lot if the forwards & rest of the backline aren’t up to scratch.
      Still many out west will look forward to Cleary & Luai being the main halves combination in the future.
      After Kronk is retired & the Roosters no longer have a first rate halfback.

      • Plenty of Options mate, Keary showed he is capable of playing half. Sorry that you got your hopes up. The tall poppy syndrome is showing in your subconscious by writing Cleary and the Roosters mixed up in one story Easts of the Great dividing Range.🤣😂😆😁🤣😂😁😆….💪🐔👉🐓. Now lay down on the lounge and start from the beginning🎱

    • 👍👍👍👍👍Plenty of pressure on Soufffffths and Brisbane Ponies. Bennett has shown in his last match against NZ that he still can’t stop the floodgates opening in defence when the Kiwis thrashed his English Burgess team 34-0 to go with his last ever Bronco’s match being thrashed by Saints 48-18 in Brisbane with a capacity Brisbane crowd behind them in a semi …😂🤣😁😆🤣😂😁😆🤣😂🤣😁😆😁🤣😂

      • 😆🤣😁😂😁🤣😆🤣😁😂😁🤣🤣🤣
        That’s hilarious that Soufffs have a coach that has lost the art od defending. With his last premiership match and his last test match the total combined points Bennett’s team has leaked is 82 points. ahahahah🤣🤣🤣🤣😁😂😆😂😁

    • Sure there is. Didn’t you very recently say the Roosters were going back to back in 2019?
      Every team wants to knock off the current premiers. That brings pressure of its own every game.

  2. Cleary at NRL level has a lot on his shoulders. This list shows the importance of getting it right in the halves.
    Wayne, Seibold, Arthur & Ricky all have a bit of pressure on them. Other coaches can get away with rebuilds etc or have finals ready squads (see Storm and chooks).
    Other people who need to step up are Klemmer, Issako needs to show he can back up, Ponga, Peachy, TPJ if he changes positions, Cam Smith if he signs a two year, Ramien…. this list could go on.

    Everyone who had a good season/bad season/fell off/finished on a high/got injured etc all have something to prove.

    Can we play yet?

  3. I would add Darius Boyd. First time he hasn’t had Wayne looking after him. I think he had an ordinary last couple of years.

    • Can only assume Boyd will be left wing outside Roberts now, Isaako should be Fb, Oates and bird right side, forwards are a stress, so young and inexperienced. There is no way Glenn rides the pine pony anymore, he and Gillett are all the experience.

      Boyd under immense pressure to hold a starting position. Only experience gets him in the side.

  4. If sharks put Johnson at six wow that sounds awesome Moylan will be great 5/8 but Moylan sweeping off Johnson sounds great to me ( enter all The shark haters )

  5. Pressure is on Josh Reynolds to prove his worth after an injury riddled 2018 , pressure on Gallen to prove he hasn’t gone a season too long and pressure on DCE to maintain his return to representatives football.

    • Pressure will be also on Sam Burgess not open his Facebook account without his wife’s supervision. If he goes alone on the sly this time perhaps he should think about taking his famous gold watch off his wrist when he wraps misses Palmer around his beanstalk to impress the girls. 💪⌚👍

      • Why do you love Pearce so much? The Roosters thought so highly of him , they got Cronk to replace him.
        Pearce can be a decent club level player, when the 5/8th alongside him is a far better player than he is.
        He’s been the halfback that’s led NSW to countless losses . As he lacked the talent to compete at state level.
        I don’t care who NSW choose as halfback. As long as they don’t go backwards & choose Pearce. Choosing him is like the Australian cricket team choosing the Marsh brothers. Maybe the opposition will be worse some time , so they can have some success?
        As for player conduct. Hide your doggy , when Pearce is on his way. 🐩

        • Don’t know what your on about east of the divide, I go for the Roosters and Pearce is not a Rooster. All I said was Pearce was in the best form of any halfback after walking away from the Roosters and was leading the Dally M awards before he got injured in round 7 or 8. He definitely was a big chance to play BUT he got injured and was out for 9 weeks. Cleary was the second choice because he had a 4 or 5 game combination built up with Maloney. If Pearce did not get injured I believe Cleary would of been used in the future

          Like you said Cleary got a win on the back of doing nothing in attack against a side that was at its worse with Queensland’s entire super spine gone. And like I said if Pearce did not get injured and played against that depleted rebuilding Qld outfit then NSW wins 3-0 not 2-1 with a rookie half who did nothing in attack. Get the Picture🖼

  6. You keep pushing for Pearce to be the SOO halfback. You have also said when Cronk leaves , Pearce will be back at the Roosters.
    So obviously you do love him as a player.
    Even with Keary at 5/8th, the Roosters thought their best chance of winning the premiership was to buy Cronk & punt Pearce. So that proved to be correct.
    As for the SOO results. Pearce has a dreadful record as halfback for NSW.
    I didn’t say I thought Cleary played exceptionally well in attack.
    Still NSW won the series. First time out with a rookie halfback. Winning 2-1 beats losing yet again.
    Pearce has lost so many times playing for NSW , that losing has been conditioned into him . He expects to lose!
    So again, you need to go with someone who doesn’t just expect to lose. Brad Fittler was right….
    Get the picture!

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