With the first final now 48 hours away, we’re almost ready to turn our backs on the regular season.
But before we do, we’ve got some Team of the Year nominations to get through.
Dan and Jarryd have both put their necks on the line selecting a Team of the Year, although the pair have gone about it in different ways.
Dan has looked at the season and a whole and chosen his starting 13, while Jarryd – our resident Team of the Week author – has looked back at all of his selections and chosen the players based on his most popular selections.
Six players have earned nominations in both sides.
Here are both Dan and Jarryd’s Team of the Year selections!
Dan’s Team of the Year
The below is the 13 men I’d choose to represent the NRL as 2018’s best. This isn’t based on Dally M voting and is purely opinion. As always comments are welcome.
Fullback: Valentine Holmes
Edging out Kalyn Ponga and RTS is the in-form player of the competition in Valentine Holmes. The Sharks custodian is having a career season which is saying something after his electric 2016. He recorded 21 tries, an eye watering 24 line breaks (four more than his nearest opponent) and has developed a passing game that has seen him become arguably the favourite to take over from Billy Slater for the Kangaroos. Arguments will be made for Ponga but Holmes is the best running number one in the game right now.
Wing: David Fusitua
The Fus pips the likes of Blake Ferguson and co for a wing spot on the back of his incredible try scoring feates, combined with his nightmare inducing running game. One try ahead of Valentine Holmes, Fusitua finished with a league-best 22 four-pointers. He has been the main beneficiary of the revamped Warriors attack and will be crucial come finals time.
Centre: Latrell Mitchell
Despite a quiet last three-or-so weeks, the young Roosters centre has established himself as the premier number three or four in the game. Whether he can maintain that form for as long as some of the more established players it yet to be seen but right now there is no more damaging outside back in the game than the Origin hero. He absolutely bathed Will Chambers in the opening two games of the Origin series. His efforts for the Roosters have been monsterous.
Centre James Roberts
Joining Mitchell in the centres is his Origin partner, James Roberts. The Brisbane speedster has really improved all facets of his game over the past two seasons while at Brisbane. He may not be scoring as many tries as he did during his time at the Titans but his defence has improved to a huge degree while his positioning is also much improved. Well worth his Origin call up. I can’t see him losing that jumper any time soon.
Wing: Josh Addo-Carr
In my view Addo-Carr is the game’s most dangerous winger. No player excites fans when given any sort of open space more than the purple Fox. He lacks the size of Corey Oates and the aerial ability of the Fus, but there is no faster player in the game right now.
Five-Eighth: Cameron Munster
Truthfully there hasn’t really been a stand out number six in 2018 but for mine Cam Munster has been the best. Edging out James Maloney and Cody Walker, the Storm pivot is the most important player wearing purple not named Cameron Smith. His game continues to improve with extra responsibility. There was a very real chance he could have struggled without Cooper Cronk but I’d say he’s an even better player now as a result.
Halfback: Adam Reynolds
I genuinely had to reach for this one and believe the number seven is the most difficult position to fill. Adam Reynolds gets the nod over the likes of Shaun Johnson and Cooper Cronk due to his performances during the Bunnies’ nine-game unbeaten run. He had the ball on a string at times and directed his monster forward pack around. He lacks the flashy step and pace of Johnson and the aura of Cronk but over all I think the Bunnies’ number seven has been the best across the season.
Prop: Andrew Fifita
Controversy alert!!! It’s far from impossible that Andrew Fifita will win the Dally M medal this season. He was behind only Ponga (and possibly Maloney) when the voting went behind closed doors with both of those players having missed multiple games since. For mine there is no more impactful big man in the game than the Sharks’ firebrand. He is the key to the Sharks premiership hopes.
Hooker: Damien Cook
An absolute no brainer. I never thought I’d type another name here while Cameron Smith was still playing but Cook has been the competition’s best player all season. I did some sums and his teammates might take too many votes off him during their run for him to win the Dally M medal but he has the number nine jersey sewn up. Had a monster Origin series, an even bigger season for the Bunnies, and will take over the Kangaroos jersey at the end of the season.
Prop: David Klemmer
Marty Taupau can be considered unlucky to miss out but the late season form of Klemmer has been too strong to ignore. He’s made 350 more post contact metres than Taupau and is less than 100 behind Jason Taumalolo. Klemmer has been the Dogs’ best player all season and has played an almost single hand at times. After losing Aaron Woods, if anything, his output has increased. He’s closing in on becoming the game’s premier prop.
Second Row: Viliame Kikau
What an incredible season by the Panthers’ break out back rower. Kikau is one of the most destructive players in the competition. He had a massive World Cup for Fiji and has continued to build on that momentum at the foot of the mountains. He started the season as a fringe first grader, earned a bench spot and is now the first player picked in the Panthers’ forwards each week. Monster year.
Second Row: Tyson Frizell
Frizell, like the Dragons, had suffered a form slump as of late but that should not undo the incredible work of the early rounds. At one time this season Frizell was the most in-form second rower and lead his side with great aggression and ability. He was a huge reason the Dragons started the season in such supreme form. Had yet another huge Origin series and has been one of the club’s best despite over the past month.
Lock: Sam Burgess
Saving the most controversial choice until last, the Bunnies’ number 13 edges out Jason Taumalolo for the lock jersey. Taumalolo has been typically immense but Burgess has more to his game than just running metres and tackle breaks. The amount of attention he attracts in the line is second to none, opening up space for the likes of Walker and Cook. His quick play the balls have lead the foundation for Damien Cook’s inspired form. You couldn’t go wrong choosing the Cowboys’ number 13 but for mine Burgess has him beat.