NRL.com Players' Poll: Part 3 - Rule changes, best young player, hardest to tackle, biggest hitter

The majority of players that took part in the NRL.com Players' Poll are happy with the automatic seven-tackle set for all 20-metre restarts, however, most believe the game needs to change how drawn matches should be decided.

Also in part three of the poll, which was filled in by 117 players across all 16 clubs before this year's Origin series, Kalyn Ponga has unsurprisingly been deemed the best young player (22 and under) in the NRL ahead of NSW and Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary.

Ponga also featured highly in the "hardest player to tackle" category which was dominated by North Queensland wrecking-ball Jason Taumalolo.

Sydney Roosters front-rower Dylan Napa was the overwhelming winner as the hardest hitter in the NRL, beating South Sydney's Sam Burgess.

The verdict: The wrecking ball that is Jason Taumalolo has been voted the most difficult player to bring to a halt. It's not just strength that has been recognised, with the dazzling footwork of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck earning him second spot.

The surprise: Kalyn Ponga finished in the top five but perhaps next year he will feature a lot higher than No.4. There was no room for Sam Burgess, possibly a player who would have won this category in previous years. Another who will likely feature in future years is Penrith Panthers giant Viliame Kikau.

Others who polled well: Sam Burgess, Marty Taupau, James Tedesco

The verdict: The wonder kid from Newcastle has unsurprisingly taken this category out. Perhaps Nathan Cleary would have been the recipient if you'd asked the same question 12 months earlier but Ponga's rise cannot be denied.

The surprise: Tom Trbojevic and Valentine Holmes have represented their countries but even they couldn't get near Ponga and Cleary.

Others who polled well: Euan Aitken, Suliasi Vunivalu

** At the time of voting Valentine Holmes and Euan Aitken were still 22 years old.

The verdict: The Sydney Roosters' Dylan Napa may not have been in the top 10 middle forwards in the game but he certainly lets his presence be felt with his hitting ability. Two Dragons also feature in the top five with Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims.

The surprise: Cronulla's Wade Graham is one of the biggest hitters in the game, but perhaps the resurgence of Tariq Sims in 2018 cost him a spot in the top five. Victor Radley may find himself in this category next season.

Others who polled well: Wade Graham, Russell Packer, Manu Ma'u

The verdict: While there has been plenty of commentary around the frustrations of having every 20-metre restart constitute a seven-tackle set for the attacking team, it appears the majority of players polled don't hold those same frustrations. More than 60 per cent of players have voted to keep the rules as is, despite claims a seven-tackle set is too harsh of a punishment for certain in-goal infringements.

The verdict: Of the four options provided to the players polled, most voted to keep the current golden point system in place. You could look at it in a different way, with almost 65 per cent of players voting for a change in some capacity. The most supported form of change is to introduce a 10-minute extra-time period with the score after 90 minutes to decide the result. A quarter of the players polled believe the match should end in a draw after 80 minutes. Only 10 per cent of players support the idea of golden try.

 

The final part will be published on Sunday with players responding to questions including expansion of the game and which clubs are viewed as great places to play football.

 

The NRL.com Players' Poll is independent of the National Rugby League. The survey was undertaken by 117 NRL players across all 16 clubs. The survey questions and results have not been designed or endorsed by the NRL or the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).