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During the 2014 season, NRL players made 127,000 tackles in the 201 premiership games. Let's take a look at which 10 players did the most hard work in the ruck.

The NRL's top 10 metre-eaters

The top tacklers list is dominated by 80-minute hookers who spend the majority of every game in and around the ruck, often as a second or third tackler helping out their props. A few hard-working and big-minute forwards also crept onto the list in 2014.

10. Josh McGuire
895 tackles, 24 games, average 37.3
Brisbane and Samoa big man McGuire shouldered plenty of the load for the Broncos last year, almost playing his way into a Kangaroos jersey in the process.

9. Josh Jackson
907 tackles, 28 games, average 32.4
One of few men to play the maximum possible 28 games in the season, last year was a breakout year for the impressive Jackson. The Bulldogs back-rower earned his first Country jersey, spent time with the Blues squad and finished the year as a Kangaroo.

8. Sam Burgess
914 tackles, 26 games, average 35.2
Not content with just being the number one metre-eater in 2014, the Clive Churchill medallist also racked up an astonishing number of tackles, highlighting his all-round value to the Rabbitohs last year.

7. Cameron Smith
963 tackles, 23 games, average 41.9
Continuing the form that has made him an NRL Fantasy superstar for much of his career, the Storm and Kangaroos captain was Mr Consistent once again in 2014.

6. James Graham
992 tackles, 28 games, average 35.4
Last year's second-top metre man was also its sixth-best tackler, rounding out a massive season as he helped the Bulldogs to a Grand Final appearance.

5. Matt Ballin
993 tackles, 23 games, average 43.2
Manly's somewhat unheralded hooker was titanic again in 2014, and his unlucky knee injury late in the season – and his side's subsequent early exit from the finals – highlighted just how much he brings to his team and why he is so highly rated on the northern beaches.

4. Jake Friend
1,031 tackles, 23 games, average 44.8
The nuggety Roosters hooker has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times, and in a huge 2014 he showed enough leadership to be made co-captain for 2015. Friend showed why plenty of people rate him as the next long-term Maroons and Kangaroos No.9.

3. Michael Ennis
1,046 tackles, 27 games, average 38.7
The now-former Bulldogs skipper will leave a massive hole at Belmore in 2015, and not just for how much defence he gets through. Cronulla will be boosted not just by his almost-39 tackles per game in 2015 but by his leadership on and off the field.

2. Nathan Friend
1,084 tackles, 24 games, average 45.2
In a Warriors squad packed with big, mobile Polynesian forwards who tend to boast a combination of flashy ball skills or formidable size and power, quiet achiever Friend is the glue in the middle that holds it all together.

1. Andrew McCullough
1,095 tackles, 23 games, average 47.6
The Broncos rake upped his game time in 2014 and as an 80-minute man showed he can match it with the best week-in, week-out. That made McCullough a genuine NRL Fantasy option alongside the likes of Cameron Smith in the process.

More stats and information about the NRL's 2014 season will be available in the Annual Report to be released on Friday.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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