The NRL's top 10 try-scorers
Last season the game's try-scoring superstars crossed for 1,465 exhilarating four-pointers. Who was the top try scorer and how many tries did they score?
Any hard-working prop worth his salt loves scoring a meat pie but it is the flashy outside backs that make crossing the white stripe in increasingly unbelievable fashion their bread and butter. The following 10 players did that more than any other in 2014.
=9. Dale Copley
16 tries in 25 games
Fringe Broncos three-quarter Dale Copley evolved into a genuine attacking weapon in 2014, shifting between centre and wing depending on the availability of other players. Such was his form, he was touted as a possible Origin bolter mid-season and may still see some senior rep footy in the near future.
=9. Jason Nightingale
16 tries in 22 games
St George Illawarra's ever-reliable wing-man has been one half of arguably the NRL's best wing combination along with Brett Morris over the past five or so years. He'll have a new opposite flanker in 2015 but will no doubt remain one of the Red V's go-to men in attack.
=6. Anthony Minichiello
17 tries in 27 games
Right from the time he tore Parramatta to shreds in Round 2 with a powerful hat-trick, the Roosters club legend and outgoing captain showed he had no intention of following the rules of Father Time in a gravity-defying swansong one would more readily associate with the Minichiello of the early 2000s.
=6. Peta Hiku
17 tries in 26 games
Peta Hiku started 2014 as a utility back waiting for his chance, but with a host of injury-enforced absentees in Manly's backline in Round 1 Hiku grabbed his chance and never looked back. His sublime skills – punctuated by a freakish winger's try against the Warriors late in the season – meant he quickly became a first-choice player for Geoff Toovey and finished the year as a Four Nations-winning Kiwi fullback.
=6. Manu Vatuvei
17 tries in 23 games
Regardless of which club you support, there are few better sights in rugby league than big Manu Vatuvei in full flight. Traditionally a rocks-or-diamonds player, Vatuvei brought the diamonds in 2014 and both the Warriors and Kiwis were the beneficiaries.
=4. Sisa Waqa
18 tries in 24 games
In his last year at the Storm, Fijian flyer Sisa Waqa showed the maturity he has added to his immense talent. His four tries against Newcastle – amazingly, in a losing effort – were a personal highlight in his final year in Melbourne.
=4. Jarrod Croker
18 tries in 24 games
It seems only yesterday Croker was a precociously talented speedster graduating from Canberra's illustrious NYC program. In 2015 he will be Raiders captain after adding consistency and leadership skills to his already-impressive on-field performances in one of the best years of his career so far.
3. Semi Radradra
19 tries in 24 games
Right from the time a still-raw Radradra lit up the inaugural Auckland Nines with five stunning tries there was a sense we were about to witness something special. And that's exactly what happened when his Round 1 hat-trick for the Eels wrecked the Warriors. Amazingly, it was Round 8 before Radradra played a game in which he did not score a try.
2. Jarryd Hayne
20 tries in 21 games
Hayne was in vintage, 2009-era form – if not even better – in his surge to co-Dally M medallist last year. The Eels fullback was simply unstoppable, almost single-handedly winning several games for a Parramatta side that shrugged off back-to-back wooden spoons to come within a hair's breadth of making the finals.
1. Alex Johnston
21 tries in 18 games
It was a stunning rise for the young Rabbitoh who didn't even make his NRL debut until Round 8, taking his place at the expense of club legend Nathan Merritt. The Souths winger racked up six doubles and a hat-trick in his 21 games, and four tries in the finals series saw him sneak past Hayne to finish the season with more tries than any other player.
More stats and information about the NRL's 2014 season will be available in the Annual Report to be released on Friday.