As we count down to season 2014, NRL.com identifies 30 players who will be crucial to their team's fortunes this year. From new faces to rising stars to proven performers who will need to lift this season, these are our 'MVPs' for 2014.
It doesn't matter how old you are, how long you've followed the game, or whether or not you've graduated from the playmaker's school of Andrew Johns, you are more than entitled to pick on the little bloke wearing your team's number seven.
If you were born to follow rugby league, then it's your god-given right. It comes with the territory.
But before we hastily encourage you to break your first new year's resolution of 2014 and start jawing off at your halfback, we're going to do you a favour and hand you the names of the top 20 try assisters last season.
From highest to lowest, here they are: Maloney, Thurston, Cronk, Mullen, A. Reynolds, Carney, Pearce, B. Stewart, Foran, Johnson, Bowen, Farah, Cherry-Evans, Locke, Marshall, Fien, Boyd, Inglis, Slater and J. Reynolds.
Forgive us if that just sounded like a roll call of our game's representative stars, but that's kind of how this playmaking thing works. The more points you are responsible for, the bigger the stack of jerseys mum gets to wash at home.
Nestled somewhere near the top of that list, however, lies just one name that has neither stepped into the state-warring cauldron, nor stared a bloke in the eye during the haka. All of which is actually OK, considering Adam Reynolds was just a sophomore at NRL level in 2013.
But if 24 try assists mean anything – and it certainly does if it puts you in a group that has a combined 149 Origin games and 114 international jumpers between them – then the Rabbitohs halfback has to at least be on level-pegging with that other halfback everyone in NSW is yet to be convinced of (even if Mitchell Pearce has played more consecutive Origin games than any Blues halfback, including the great teacher Andrew Johns himself).
And it's not just the elite-standard amount of four-pointers that the 23-year-old Reynolds produced in his second season that makes him one of rugby league's rising stars.
He ranked in the top five in metres gained through his trusty right boot, a pinpoint piece of weaponry that also saw him become the first goal-kicker to kick 100 goals at better than 90 per cent in a season since the NRL's inception in 1998.
If Reynolds was in the NBA, then he'll be a young Steve Nash (two-time MVP, eight-time All Star, three-time All-NBA first team and five-time NBA assists leader).
For now though, the local junior simply remains your standard first-grader. You see, the jury is still out – fairly or not – on whether he can lead his club over the final hurdle and into a grand final.
The fact that incumbent Blues half Pearce is now a premiership-winning halfback doesn't help either, even if he's lost three series in a row.
Clearly though, what matters is that Adam Reynolds has the potential to belong in that upper echelon of the game's elite. In the eyes of many he's not quite there yet, and one gets the feeling that will be the case until we see the hordes of myrtle and green on that first Sunday in October.
Until then, it's your god-given right to scrutinise Reynolds all you want, no matter how many try assists he gets.
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