OPINION

Who makes Laurie Daley's Top 10 NRL player list?

Who is Laurie Daley's No.1 right now?
Who is Laurie Daley's No.1 right now?

Back in early April in this column when the competition shut down because of COVID-19, I ranked my Top 10 best players in the NRL and this was the list I came up with.

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Jason Taumalolo
  3. Tom Trbojevic
  4. Cameron Smith
  5. Jack Wighton
  6. Payne Hass
  7. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  8. David Fifita
  9. Cam Murray
  10. Kalyn Ponga

Just 10 rounds down the track and I've come up with my Top 10 best players in the NRL at the moment on current form. Interestingly, only two players - Cameron Smith and James Tedesco - are on both lists. Smith, who ranked fourth above, jumps a place to be third, while Tedesco drops from the number one spot to 10th.

Here is my latest Top 10 from the top down:

10. James Tedesco

While the Roosters fullback hasn't regularly been at his brilliant best, he has still been a threat in most games with his high involvement and dangerous footwork. The sobering thing for the rest of the competition is he may only just be warming up before really turning it on when it matters most.

9. Api Koroisau

Along with Campbell-Gillard, arguably the buy of the year who, in partnership with Cleary, has transformed the way the Panthers attack. A major threat out of dummy half, his deception has caught out plenty of rivals and his game is suited to the new rules. If the Panthers are to go all the way, he will be one of the chief reasons why.

8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard

This bloke has always had the ability and showed it when he played for the Kangaroos in 2017 while at Penrith but then two broken jaws rattled him. But the move to the Eels has brought out the best in him again. For a big man, he has great leg speed, plays big minutes and has really been leading the charge for the Eels up front.

7. Josh Papalii

In a team that hasn't really hit its straps this season, Papalii has been massive. He has carried the Raiders forward pack and set a very high standard for his teammates to follow. For a big man, he plays big minutes and his size and aggression have made him a real handful.

6. Isaah Yeo

He's been a bit of an unsung performer for the Panthers in recent seasons but I don't think anyone under-rates him any more. Now more of a middle forward, his huge work rate and influence in the Panthers pack has been huge all season.

5. Harry Grant

A real surprise packet, Grant has transformed the way the Wests Tigers play. He's just highly competitive, always a real threat out of dummy half and he never stops buzzing around and working in defence. Everyone knew he was a talent but his impact has probably been greater than most people expected.

4. Luke Keary

Like Cleary, Keary's game has gone to another level now that he is completely running the show with Cooper Cronk no longer there. He's taken ownership of the Roosters and is thriving with the leadership. No-one reads the numbers in defence better than him and the up-tempo way he plays means he is just a constant threat with the footy.

3. Cameron Smith

What can I say, he is just a freak of a player. His ability to see it, action it, and just get it done is still second to none. He can just manipulate the way games are played because he knows exactly when to speed things up and slow things down. If he retires at the end of the season, it won't be because his influence as a player is waning.

2. Clint Gutherson

Clearly revelling in the responsibilities the captaincy of the Eels brings, 'King Gutho' has been very impressive. For mine, he is clearly the form fullback in the comp. I love his high energy, his big involvement and the fact he rarely comes up with an error. He stepped up brilliantly and owned the team when Mitchell Moses was out injured.

1. Nathan Cleary

Cleary's form is one of the main reasons why the Panthers are leading the competition. He's matured into the leading playmaker in the game at the moment who has taken his overall game to another level. He understands how to control the tempo of games, defensively he is really strong and is now a match-winner playing at a consistently high standard.

TOP FORM: Penrith Panther Nathan Cleary. Photo: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

TOP FORM: Penrith Panther Nathan Cleary. Photo: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

ROUND 13 PREDICTIONS

DRAGONS V ROOSTERS

I'm expecting the depleted Roosters to prevail but only just in a game where I give the Dragons a big chance.

SEA EAGLES v WARRIORS

No Blake Green for the Warriors and Manly just have to win this one at home to stay in touch with the top eight.

RABBITOHS v BRONCOS

Wayne Bennett's Bunnies to edge out the Broncos in this one despite David Fifita's much-anticipated return for Brisbane.

STORM v BULLDOGS

No Cameron Smith means this will be a big challenge for the Storm against a Dogs side that won't go away, Storm in a tight one.

KNIGHTS v TIGERS

Blake Green debuts for the Knights and no Harry Grant for Tigers tilts the game Newcastle's way.

PANTHERS V RAIDERS

I can't go past the Panthers at home in the form they are in.

TITANS v COWBOYS

I like the improvement in the Titans and I reckon they can come up with an upset here at home.

SHARKS v EELS

The Eels will have too much power, speed and footwork for the Sharks in this one.