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NRL rookie of the year: experts have their say

As the 2018 Telstra Premiership regular season begins to draw to a close,'s experts have had their say on who should be named the Rookie of the Year.

Steve Renouf (Broncos legend)

Jamayne Isaako has been the standout rookie since round one and the thing that has impressed me most is his consistency and match-winning abilities. Isaako's goal kicking and running game has won Brisbane several matches and whether he has played fullback or wing he has played like a seasoned NRL veteran.

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

No other rookie comes close to Jamayne Isaako's influence in 2018, with the big bodied flyer winning Brisbane clutch games against the Tigers and Roosters off the tee. Wayne Bennett's recent call to shift Darius Boyd from fullback to accommodate Isaako, not to mention the healthy four-year Broncos extension signed recently, is a fair nod to the potential he is already delivering on.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

What an incredible season this young man Jamayne Isaako has had. He has played every game for the Broncos and there have been several games they would not have won but for his tremendous goal kicking. He has been rewarded with a new contract until the end of 2024 and Broncos fans will be thrilled. Special mention to Victor Radley from the Roosters.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

Cronulla's Jesse Ramien has announced himself as a star of the future with his barnstorming runs and solid defence for the Sharks in the centres and with Newcastle signing him for 2019 and beyond, it could be the second straight year the Knights have nabbed a future representative star from a rival club after their success with Kalyn Ponga.

Andrew Marmont ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako has gone from playing one NRL game last year to a Kiwi Test call-up and one of the Broncos' standout stars in 2018. When you combine his eight tries and 64 goals at an 84% success rate, he could be in contention for International Rookie of the Year come season's end, let along the NRL's award. A young man with a massive future.

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

Jesse Ramien has a touch of Mark McGaw about him – fast, powerful centre on the Sharks edge – and with the black curly hair, looks like him too. He and Jamayne Isaako have both made upwards of 50 tackle busts this year but every time Ramien gets the ball he doesn't just make metres, he's unpredictable in what he's going to do as he charges forward.

Scott Hazlewood ( reporter)

It's hard to go past Jamayne Isaako. Having benefited from an extra year at NRL level having played one game for Brisbane last season, it's more than just the 22-year-old's ability to score points as to why he's made such a splash this year. Blessed with the size and footwork to trouble most defences, his ability to finish and kick goals make him the blueprint for the modern outside back.

Jamayne Isaako: My Story

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako got a small taste of the NRL in his lone game last year, but has shown he belongs in the best competition in the world in his 19 matches this season. His clutch field goal and match-winning penalty goal against the Wests Tigers in round three and the way he stood up Cooper Cronk in round 11 are highlights of his incredible rookie year. He's had such a good year he's now the Broncos' first-choice fullback ahead of Darius Boyd – a player who represented his state 28 times and country 23 times. That says it all.

Neil Cadigan ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako has been a first-rate performer for the Broncos, handling the goalkicking duties as well as plenty of pressure moments (like his round three field goal against Wests Tigers) with extraordinary maturity. A late bloomer at 22 but has the combination of class, poise and consistency. A standout for me.

Dylan Morris ( reporter)

It's hard to argue with the second-highest point-scorer for the season. Jamayne Isaako's cool under pressure style and his recent move to fullback have him marked as a true player of the future.

Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

The way this kid Jamayne Isaako has stepped up in crucial and pressure situations this season has shown a maturity beyond  his years. Has made the switch to his preferred fullback and has continued to excel. Will easily win ROTY.

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

At risk of being predictable I think Jamayne Isaako's ice-cold plays under pressure and recent switch to fullback have him in front of the field, although AJ Brimson is putting in a late charge and Junior Tatola has had a wonderful season and is well under the radar.

Peter Jolly ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako has played every minute of Brisbane's 2018 season, throughout their 19 games, providing a dangerous attacking weapon on the edge, with 55 tackle breaks and eight tries - as well as 64 goals at nearly 85% accuracy. He is only going to improve with experience, and has a fantastic career at all levels in front of him

David Piepers (Big League editor)

Jamayne Isaako has frequently delivered for Brisbane throughout the highs and lows of their campaign. His recent move to fullback has showed his versatility, his goal-kicking has been superb but most impressive has been his ability to deliver in the big moments, including his early-season effort against Wests Tigers and his solo heroics against the Roosters. Composure, class and - most importantly - consistency. His development over the course of the season should make him a strong favourite.

Ramien sets up Lee to get Sharks going

Hayley Byrnes ( reporter)

I want to vote for Victor Radley but due to his judiciary records he is sadly now ineligible. Instead, I'll throw my support behind Jesse Ramien.  His attack is up there with his defence, the Knights sure have nabbed a future representative star.

Alicia Newton ( reporter)

I've gone with Jesse Ramien over Jamayne Isaako by a whisker purely on consistency. Ramien will be a difficult player for Shane Flanagan to leave out once Josh Dugan returns which is an indication of the season the young gun has had. He's averaging 113 running metres a game and has been defensively sound. A massive coup for the Knights next season.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

In his first full season of NRL, Jamayne Isaako has proved himself worthy of a wing spot in the New Zealand team and claimed the fullback role at the Broncos, with Darius Boyd shifting to the centres. He has also taken on the goal kicking duties at Brisbane. A star on the rise.

Joel Gould ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako is one of the first picked for the Broncos each week and he has soared from a virtual unknown to a Test player for New Zealand, while also being re-signed by Brisbane for a further four years. He won crucial games for the Broncos against the Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters and without him in 2018 Brisbane may be battling for a top-eight spot instead of pushing hard for a top-four finish.

Tanisha Stanton ( reporter)

Jamayne Isaako has claimed his spot in the NRL, cementing the fullback position over Darius Boyd after proving himself at the top level. He has been an impactful player for the Broncos, winning them games on three occasions from a conversion on full-time, a field goal and a try. His kicking accuracy also speaks for itself. It's only early days for Isaako, his football is only going to develop further.

Michael Chammas ( chief reporter)

Jamayne Isaako announced himself with a penalty goal to gift Brisbane victory in extra time against the Wests Tigers in round three and hasn't looked back since. The fact that he has forced Darius Boyd to move into the centres is the ultimate compliment given Boyd's standing in the game and his relationship with Wayne Bennett. A star of the future.

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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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