The business end of the top 50 countdown is upon us!
Today, we run through players ranked 20 to 11 from the 2021 NRL season, with plenty of stars, including four from the grand final, and all ten playing in this year’s finals series.
Another four fullbacks are listed, while we also have two hookers, a lock, a centre and two elite halves.
Here is the list.
20. Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
The South Sydney half was imperative to his side's success this season. While Cody Walker will take all of the credit, the role of the departing veteran can't be understated in the success of this team throughout 2021.
Reynolds has been a key to success for many years at the Rabbitohs, his kicking and passing game being pin point accurate more often than it isn't.
Defensively, he doesn't put a foot wrong for a half either.
A superb addition for the Broncos in 2022.
A superb season for Olam who has cemented his position as the best centre in the competition. He is devastating with the ball in hand, breaks the line with ease and knows how to find the tryline.
In defence, opposition centres are almost at the point of actively trying to avoid him, just so they don't have to have their bones rattled.
He is the complete package as a centre, and could only go from strength to strength in the future as he continues to develop his own game.
18. AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans)
The Gold Coast fullback is criminally underrated. The Titans are quite literally a different team with and without Brimson.
It's to the point where outside of Tom Trbojevic, he may be the single player with the most influence over the way their team performs.
He made his Queensland debut in 2020 and was unlucky not to spend more time in the Origin arena this year. The star fullback will continue to be a pillar of strength for the Titans in 2022, with his ball-playing and speed off the mark assets of his game with seven tries and nine assists in 18 appearances this season.
Defensively, he reads the game beautifully and tends to make high percentage plays.
His support play is only matched by a handful of players in the competition, as his ability to break the line and run the ball back to get sets off to a good start.
He may not get the credit of other top-tier fullbacks, but there is a reason his name keeps getting thrown around as a marquee signing for 2023 once his current contract expires.
16. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Cook is one of the best ball runners in the competition, and the level of danger he brings to the Rabbitohs attack is second to none out of the dummy half position.
He couldn’t drag his side over the line in the grand final, but make no mistake, Souths wouldn’t have been there if he wasn’t in the side. He benefits from the work of Cameron Murray, certainly, but where Cook was something of a flat track bully in years gone by, he has become the more well-rounded hooker South Sydney needed.
15. Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm)
Some will certainly question why Papenhuyzen isn't higher up the list, and that statement could have rung true had he kept the form of his opening half of the season.
However, the Melbourne fullback was out injured for quite some time, and then took time to regain his feet once he returned.
In fact, outside of a Round 25 blitz against the Sharks, he never found his original form. In saying that, his form was still good enough to keep him at the pointy end of a list like that, and it's hard to see him not returning to prominence in 2022.
Defensively, Yeo is rock solid. In fact, there are few other players in the competition you'd pick over him if you were building it for defence alone.
He doesn't need to be an amazing attacking player within a Penrith team full of them, but that doesn't mean he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain and do a job in the middle third which every team gunning for a premiership needs done well.
Being able to play two key forward positions at an elite level is part of it, but Smith has an uncanny ability to inspire his team at every turn.
His running and passing in attack tend to create time and space for the dangerous players around him, while his defence in the middle third is simply unreal.
He might be seen as something of a flat-track bully along with the rest of the Parramatta side, but the way he played in the blue and gold's two finals matches speaks volumes about the talent he possesses.
His kicking game is superb, his running game excellent too, as illustrated by the try he scored against the Knights in Week 1 of the finals.
Consistency tended to be an issue, but Parramatta didn't lose a whole lot when he was fit and on the park.
While he has received repercussions for that incident (and rightly so), it shouldn’t detract from the unbelievably strong season he had on field.
He has turned himself into a genuine NRL-level fullback, something he certainly didn’t look like becoming of his first 12 months in the role.
His attack has taken the Rabbitohs to the next level, he runs the ball back strongly and his defensive positioning is only improving every time he steps onto the park.
The full 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
20. Adam Reynolds
19. Justin Olam
18. AJ Brimson
17. Clinton Gutherson
16. Damien Cook
15. Ryan Papenhuyzen
14. Isaah Yeo
13. Brandon Smith
12. Mitchell Moses
11. Latrell Mitchell