MUDGEE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Tom Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles scores a try during the round six NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Gold Coast Titans at Glen Willow Sporting Complex, on April 17, 2021, in Mudgee, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

And so we reach the final instalment of our top 50 countdown, revealing the top ten players from the season that was.

The 2021 season has plenty of highlights, and plenty of lowlouts. Blowout scorelines, but an incredibly good finals series.

It’ll come as little surprise that nine of the players on today’s list played in that finals series, and only two of those nine didn’t play at the preliminary or grand final stage.

We have three forwards, a winger, four halves and two fullbacks to round out the list.

Here is the top ten from the 2021 NRL season.

» Part 1 (50-41)
» Part 2 (40-31)
» Part 3 (30-21)
» Part 4 (20-11)

10. Isaiah Papali’i (Parramatta Eels)
It’s hard to remember a story as good as the Parramatta forward in recent times.

Discarded by the Warriors, he was picked up on the cheap by the blue and gold, seemingly as something of a fill in.

He then went right ahead and crowned himself as the best second-rower in the game, putting together what can only be described as a phenomenal season.

He will be due a mega contract upgrade at the end of 2022, and the Eels might want to lock him down before he can add more dollars to it next season.

Thoroughly deserving of his spot on the list with hard-hitting defence and devastating ball running.

ISAIAH PAPALI'I
Lock
Eels
2021 SEASON AVG
1.2
Offloads
0.3
Tries
0.1
Try Assists

9. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Murray was ridiculously unlucky not to be awarded the Dally M lock of the year.

Pipped at the post by Cameron Murray, it’s little surprise that in a sped up version of the NRL, the two best locks in the game had their teams playing in the grand final.

Murray is simpy excellent at what he does. It’s debatable that none of Cody Walker, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai or Alex Johnston would be anywhere near as good as they are without his unreal ability to bend the line and still get quick play the balls.

He is potentially the best at it in the competition. Add that to his defence, and opposition teams will mark him as a key danger everytime they run out against the men from Redfern.

CAMERON MURRAY
Lock
Rabbitohs
2021 SEASON AVG
1.1
Offloads
0.2
Tries
0
Try Assists

8. Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)
It’s rare that a winger is the most important player in a team, but in the case of To’o, it’s hard to argue.

He may not have scored the most tries of any winger, but he does run the ball better than any other winger, and that’s what sets up the Panthers.

From the forwards being back behind the ball earlier, to the time and space for Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Apisai Koroisau, there isn’t a foot To’o put wrong all season.

An obvious choice for a spot high on this list.

BRIAN TO'O
Wing
Panthers
2021 SEASON AVG
0.7
Tries
242
All Run Metres
3.6
Tackles Made

7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
Cherry-Evans’ performances were somewhat overlooked given he was in the same team as Tom Trbojevic, but make no mistake, the role he played was outstanding.

Cherry-Evans has long has one of the NRL’s best kicking games, and that continued in 2021. His combination with Trbojevic was outstanding, while his vision and creativity continued to be among the best in the competition.

He may not have been able to take his team to the grand final, but the club captain finished fifth on the Dally M, and given Trbojevic stole so many points, that’s a remarkable achievement.

DALY CHERRY-EVANS
Halfback
Sea Eagles
2021 SEASON AVG
1
Try Assists
0.3
Tries
375.9
Kick Metres

6. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
The only player in the top ten from a non finals playing team, and rightly so.

Haas is an absolute monster. At times, it felt like he was the only Broncos’ player who cared or wanted to be there.

He dominated the middle third for Brisbane, and while he couldn’t inspire his team to wins, he will benefit an enormous deal from the likes of Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell arriving at the club in 2022.

The more experience Haas gets, the better he will become, and it’s unlikely he won’t be in the top ten of one of these lists in the coming years.

PAYNE HAAS
Prop
Broncos
2021 SEASON AVG
161.8
All Run Metres
0
Tries
3.2
Tackle Breaks

5. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
Munster is aided by playing in a star-studded team, but he barely put a foot wrong in 2021.

Assisting teammates, running the ball himself or leading the Melbourne kicking game - every area of his game continues to develop and improve.

The walk-up starting Queensland half just continues to go from strength to strength, and the way he was able to play during an injury crisis only adds to the story of his 2021 season.

CAMERON MUNSTER
Five-eighth
Storm
2021 SEASON AVG
0.6
Try Assists
0.3
Tries
233.5
Kick Metres

4. Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Walker has an unbelievable season, breaking every known record for try assists on the dominant Rabbitohs’ left edge.

What was most impressive was the way he seemingly improved with time as the season went on, taking more of an ownership role of the side.

The height of his maturity was the first 30 minutes in the preliminary final against Manly when he was forced to single-handidly run the kicking game.

It was great practice for 2022, where he becomes more important than ever given the departure of Reynolds.

Walker is so, so dangerous with the ball in hand though and deserves his spot.

CODY WALKER
Five-eighth
Rabbitohs
2021 SEASON AVG
1.3
Try Assists
0.6
Tries
115.2
Kick Metres

3. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
Cleary may have been higher had he not missed a substantial chunk of the season with a shoulder injury.

He also may have been higher if he had to do more on his own, but the Panthers’ team are so well-rounded.

That’s not to say Cleary didn’t play wel throughout the season, and he guided his team to the premiership, but I can’t put him any higher than third.

NATHAN CLEARY
Halfback
Panthers
2021 SEASON AVG
1
Try Assists
0.5
Tries
535.7
Kick Metres

2. James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
The main reason Cleary hasn’t gone higher is the phenomenal efforts of Tedesco.

He came into the season expecting to be a star fullback and nothing else. By the end of the season, he was club captain, inspirational leader and the man to drag his team around on his back all in one.

Injuries hit the Roosters and hit hard this year. The Roosters should have missed the top eight by the length of the straight.

Only, they didn’t. You can put plenty of the reason down to Teddy.

JAMES TEDESCO
Fullback
Roosters
2021 SEASON AVG
0.4
Tries
1
Try Assists
7
Tackle Breaks

1. Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
Who else?

The undisputed number one player in the game. You can’t go past Tommy Turbo.

Manly were a rabble without him, and while they fell short of the big dance, that shouldn’t detract from what the star Manly fullback was able to achieve in 2021.

He put up numbers the likes of which we may never see again, and if he continues that in 2022, the sky will be the limit for the men from the Northern Beaches.

TOM TRBOJEVIC
Fullback
Sea Eagles
2021 SEASON AVG
1.5
Tries
1.4
Try Assists
6.5
Tackle Breaks

The full list

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
10. Isaiah Papali’i
9. Cameron Murray
8. Brian To’o
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
6. Payne Haas
5. Cameron Munster
4. Cody Walker
3. Nathan Cleary
2. James Tedesco
1. Tom Trbojevic

So, there it is. What did you make of our top 50 list from the 2021 season? Drop a comment and let us know!