The NRL season is fading into the rear-view mirror, and while the Rugby League World Cup is just around the corner, Zero Tackle will be runing the rule over the 2022 season to select the top 50 players.
While there has been a clear standout at number one over the past few years, that isn't so much the case this year.
In a season which saw surprise teams rise to the fore, and others drop away dramatically, it also creates plenty of headaches on the Top 50 list.
The list is based entirely on 2022 form and gives significant weight to the amount of influence or impact each player added to their respective team.
Part 1 - players 50 to 41 on the list - sees a number of powerful forwards, some excellent outside backs and one of the game's best young guns.
Here is Part 1 of Zero Tackle's 2022 Top 50 countdown.
50. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys)
Taulagi has been rewarded with an excellent season on the wing for the Cowboys with selection in Australia's Rugby League World Cup squad. He also played for the Queensland Maroons during the season at State of Origin level.
Severly underrated, Taulagi would score 17 tries in 25 games during the 2022 season, but also added 76 tackle busts and 20 line breaks in his 25 games, while being solid in defence as the Cowboys made the preliminary finals in what was one of the season's biggest surprises.
49. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
The selection of Asofa-Solomona on this list may come as a surprise to some, but the star Storm forward had an excellent season.
It could have come to nothing with suspensions, but luck seemed to shine on the prop, who also spent some time in the second row during the second half of the season.
All up, he made 23 appearances, and was difficult to tackle at the best of times. 121 metres per game may not look amazing, but the percentage of post contact metres, added with 37 offloads and 91 tackle busts, certainly is. He turned himself into a real pack leader at the Storm, and that'll need to continue in 2023 as the Storm drop plenty of experience.
48. Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Tatola's emergence as a pack leader has been something special during the second half of the 2022 season, and while there is some recency bias in this pick given his finish to 2022, that would undermine the work the forward did in the first half of the year.
The fact he has been selected in Tonga's squad among an excellent crop of forwards for the World Cup tells you all you need to know around the way his stature has grown.
In 26 games, he averaged 136 metres per game and broke the 200 metre barrier on four occasions.
47. Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand Warriors)
Fonua-Blake has been exceptional in leading a well beaten Warriors' forward pack once again in 2022.
The Warriors wound up with a shocking record both in attack and defence to finish the season down the bottom of the table, but that was certainly through no fault of Fonua-Blake.
The prop averaged 153 metres per game, adding 38 tackle breaks and 11 offloads to his season numbers.
46. Beau Fermor (Gold Coast Titans)
Breakout season aren't for everyone, but it certainly was the case in 2022 for Beau Fermor.
One of the strongest performers on a consistent basis for the Titans, Fermor found a permanent home on the edge for Justin Holbrook's side and was rewarded by being picked in the extended squad for Queensland during the State of Origin decider.
Don't be at all surprised to see him in the run on 17 for the Maroons next year if he can continue to improve upon a season which brought 11 tries with it.
45. Siosifa Talakai (Cronulla Sharks)
Talakai will always have his 2022 season defined by a single half of football when he ran around Morgan Harper time and time again. That night against the Sea Eagles saw him have almost double digit tackle breaks and 200 metres by half-time.
That can't be the level of every games, but the times when Talakai wasn't the dominant centre on the park for the Sharks were few and far between.
Injuries hampered some of his progress, but 99 tackle busts in 21 games is something that deserves to be celebrated.
44. Campbell Graham (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Graham has become one of the competition's best right-hand centres throughout the 2022 season and was rewarded with selection by Mal Meninga in the Kangaroos' squad.
In what was an excellent year of football for the Rabbitohs centre, it's hard to pinpoint more than a single bad performance, and it was clear when he wasn't there, with injury hampering the second half of his season.
He ended up scoring 5 tries and assisting another 8 in 20 games, but it was his defence and 143 metres per game which truly put him on this list.
43. David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights)
Klemmer is the only Knight to feature in the countdown this year, and that comes as little surprise. He was the best player for the Hunter-based club by the length of the straight as they struggled through what could only be described as a disastrous season.
Often playing big minutes - and sometimes virtually the whole game - Klemmer was one of the competition's hardest workers in 2022.
He may not get the raps he deserves, but he made a habit of showing up the future of the club in the Saifiti brothers, averaging 155 metres per game and tackling at 97 per cent.
The talk around him potentially leaving the club at just 28 years of age should chill every Knights' supporter to the bone, so important is he to the men in red and blue.
42. Joseph Suaalii (Sydney Roosters)
Suaalii has had a magnificent rookie season, living up to all the billing which was thrown his way when he originally jumped ship from the Rabbitohs to the Roosters.
Improving all the time, he was an almost certain selection in the Kangaroos' squad before ultimately deciding to join the Samoan squad for the World Cup.
The winger would wind up with 15 tries in 19 games, but more impressive was his buy in to the hard work required at this level, running for 138 metres per game.
41. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans)
Taking over the captaincy at the Titans, the young forward continued to go to a new level as he took over from the likes of Jarrod Wallace and Moeaki Fotuaika as the undisputed forward leader at the club.
A certain selection for the Queensland Maroons during the Origin period, Fa'asuamaleaui wound up with an exceptional 160 metres per game, playing big minutes as a regular occurrence.
There were times when it felt like he was the only Titans' player truly up to NRL level, and it's form he will have to continue in 2023 if the Titans want to move back into the top eight.
Tune in tomorrow as we reveal players 40 to 31 on this list.
Tino at Number41 ? Deserves to be a lot higher, in my opinion, sir. (And, no, I’m not a Titans supporter)
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