Zero Tackle’s top 50 player countdown from the 2021 season passes the halfway point today as we reveal Part 3 on the list.
Players 30 to 21 feature plenty of top names, with the quality of the competition on show.
Another three props feature, while a try-scoring freak is also here.Otherwise, it’s halves and fullbacks galore.
Let’s get into it.
When it comes to the ability to finish and find the tryline, there is no one equal to him. He also is right near the top of the tree when it comes to willingness to run the ball back, make big metres and help out his forwards.
He knows how to break the line and bust tackles as well. Defensively, it’s hard to fault Johnson, with that seemingly only improving over the second half of the year.
If you were picking a team to play for your life of current NRL players, Johnston would be near enough to inclusion.
All Run Metres
He churns out consistent performances week after week for the Knights at club level, and has had an excellent season.
There is almost no doubting his impact, particularly given the difference it made to Newcastle’s charge when he sat on the sidelines injured.
All Run Metres
The Kiwi was forced to haul his Roosters team on his back for much of the season as injuries swept through the side time and time again, reducing them to anything but what might have otherwise been considered their best 17.
Waerea-Hargreaves managed to avoid the injury bug though, and a fifth place finish on the ladder at the end of the regular season can, in a lot of ways, be put down to the influence of the giant forward leader.
All Run Metres
He brings so much to the team in the halves, helping Cameron Munster to be able to play his natural game and steering the team around.
And yet, on top of that kicking game, he runs the ball excellently and was as dangerous as any player in the competition at times this season.
26. William Kennedy (Cronulla Sharks)
The Sharks’ fullback had something of a breakout season. He may not be the best player in the competition, but he took out Cronulla’s player of the season in what can only be described as a canter.
Runs the ball strongly from the back, and has improved his handling and defensive work out of sight over the last 12 months.
On top of that, his efforts ball-playing have come on and continue to improve seemingly with each passing week.
So good was his season, he will push the arriving Nicho Hynes into the halves during 2022.
One of the game’s best players, he is an inspirational figure at the Warriors who has dragged the team around for much of his time at the club.
There isn’t much that needs to be said about exactly how good he is, but he will be an enormous loss for the club and the game moving forward.
24. Sam Walker (Sydney Roosters)
Walker's debut season might have taken the odd wrong turn, and ended up with him being demoted to the bench for the back-end, but he was critical to the Roosters at times.
From the beautiful spiralling long ball which set up more tries than defenders can bother to remember, or the kicking game which had back threes arming their panic stations plenty of times throughout the year, Walker proved he can hand at this level.
One would only expect him to go from strength to strength in 2022, but it was impossible to put him any lower given the way he played within the circumstances he faced as the Roosters went from one injury to the next in a disastrous campaign which somehow still finished in fifth spot.
The Panthers' prop only had one real down spot in his entire season, following spending a few weeks out of the relocated bubble in Queensland.
He managed to get back to his best during the back end of the finals though and played a crucial role in the Panthers' first grand final win since 2003.
That's no word of a lie either. He was on fire for the Storm as he filled in for an injured Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Things went a little cold once the regular first choice fullback returned, but he will be a key addition in the Shire in 2022, provided he can perform outside of the Melbourne system.
21. Matt Burton (Penrith Panthers)
Another boom youngster (doesn't that seem to be a trend today). Burton was played out of position for much of the year, and yet still was named to the Dally M team of the year... Out of position.
Burton is something special, and one would expect he will be able to prove that once he moves back into his regular half position at the Bulldogs in 2022.
A premiership winner, Burton was hard to stop at the best of times and stood up in the big games for the Panthers despite playing the unfamiliar role.
The list so far
50. Connor Watson
49. Moeaki Fotuaika
48. Keaon Koloamatangi
47. Reuben Garrick
46. Josh Schuster
45. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
44. Angus Crichton
43. Harry Grant
42. Adam Doueihi
41. Viliame Kikau
40. Dale Finucane
39. Dane Gagai
38. Josh Addo-Carr
37. David Fifita
36. Apisai Koroisau
35. Reece Walsh
34. Kalyn Ponga
33. Christian Welch
32. Haumole Olokau'atu
31. Joseph Manu
30. Alex Johnston
29. Daniel Saifiti
28. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
27. Jahrome Hughes
26. William Kennedy
25. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
24. Sam Walker
23. James Fisher-Harris
22. Nicho Hynes
21. Matt Burton
Be sure to check back in to Zero Tackle tomorrow as we reveal Part 4 of our countdown.