Which player is the most under-rated in the Telstra Premiership? Our reporters and contributors have their say.
Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)
Daniel Alvaro. We'd be hearing a lot more about this emerging prop if Parramatta had lived up to the 2018 predictions, which makes his rise all the more impressive. Churned through just under 40 tackles and 105 metres a game to nail down a starting spot and win the Eels player of the year award. Started the year by whipping his teammates in pre-season fitness drills and shapes as a forward leader for years to come alongside Nathan Brown.
Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)
James Fisher-Harris. The back-rower is an undervalued member of the Panthers pack. The likes of Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Villiame Kikau and Trent Merrin take a lot of the focus off the New Zealand firebrand. After an injury-plagued 2017, Fisher-Harris returned with a vengeance this year and has produced enough game-changing plays and big hits in defence to have a highlights reel Sonny-Bill Williams would be proud of.
Craig Wing (former NSW & Australia star)
Cameron Murray. In a star-studded pack he's starting to make a name for himself. He plays well above his weight, which I love seeing. He's tough with good footwork. He plays in the middle and still finds a way through the defensive line, he's always poking his nose through. And he's strong in defence. With all the accolades the Burgesses and Crichton and Sutton get, I thought he was one of the Rabbitohs' best last week against the Storm.
Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)
Nick Cotric. I feel like we've only scratched the surface with the Raiders winger. He led the league in tackle breaks during the regular season with 149, ahead of James Tedesco, and trailed only Valentine Holmes in line breaks. With a right edge in Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua often talked up, it was Cotric who went about his business quietly.
Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)
Chad Townsend. All the Sharks chatter pre-season – and during the season – has been about Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan and Valentine Holmes: Who's playing fullback? Who's playing well? Who's providing the best attacking value? And all along Townsend – the only "spine" member left from Cronulla's 2016 premiership team – has been plying his trade. He has 12 try assists; 9 line break assists; compared with Cooper Cronk's 7 TAs and 3 LBAs. Cronk edges him in forced drop-outs (16 to 14) but for game management, the kid from Caringbah shouldn't be over-looked. From the six No.7s left in the finals, all the news seems to revolve around Cronk, Reynolds, Hunt, Cleary, and whoever the Storm drag out each week.
Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)
Leeson Ah Mau. Ah Mau has in my opinion been close to the most under-rated player across the entire competition for the past two or three seasons. In a star-studded Dragons pack the quality of work Ah Mau brings, usually off the bench, has been a huge part of them maintaining momentum through the middle of games. He has become even more important since Paul Vaughan's injury and was immense again on Sunday following injuries to fellow middles James Graham and Jack De Belin. He is a huge get for the Warriors next year and a huge loss for the Dragons.
Jamie Soward (Former Blues five-eighth)
Chad Townsend. I have never seen such little fuss made about a premiership-winning halfback more than Chad Townsend. He has steadily got his team to the top four and continues to be the glue hold the sharks title hopes together with his kicking game and general play.
Inside the NRL - Finals Week 2
Michael Chammas (NRL.com chief reporter)
Luke Keary. In a team oozing with talent, Luke Keary is often overshadowed despite playing a role that at other clubs would see him classed in the superstar category. But this season has been about three men at the Roosters – Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell. Some would argue that without Keary those three players wouldn't be as influential if it wasn't for the pint-sized playmaker.
Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)
Cody Walker. The talented five-eighth has done a superb job getting the ball wide to his outside backs with a minimum of fuss and has been at the heart of the Rabbitohs' resurgence. His combination with his left-edge cohorts John Sutton, Greg Inglis and Robert Jennings has been fantastic - Walker knows when to go to his go-to men and when to sit back and wait. If he keeps firing, there could be more glory, glory heading to South Sydney on grand final night.
Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)
Tohu Harris. There has been plenty of talk about the Warriors and the fact that this is the first time they have played finals footy in eight years. The usual suspects have received plenty of raps including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Blake Green, but not enough praise has been given to Tohu Harris. He was a massive loss for the Storm and has been the lynchpin in the Warriors forward pack this year. Even when the rest of the pack was struggling in their game against the Panthers Tohu was still going forward and trying to get the team back into the game.
Andrew Marmont (NRL.com reporter)
Jahrome Hughes. The Storm utility was central to Melbourne's winning streak mid-season and his versatility is a key reason why Craig Bellamy's side finished No.2 on the ladder. In the uncertainty of a post-Cronk era, the 23-year-old has shown courage and skill at fullback or in the halves - and although Brodie Croft may still wear the No.7 jersey for the semi, Hughes deserves to be talked about as one of the Storm's most valuable this year.
Top 5 Plays of the Week – Finals Week 1
Dylan Morris (NRL.com reporter)
Blake Green. The five-eighth proved to be an ideal partner for Shaun Johnson, particularly early in the year. If the Warriors are to win a premiership, they'll need the structure that Green provides to go along with the improvisation of Johnson.
Hayley Byrnes (NRL.com reporter)
We hear a lot about Matt Moylan and Valentine Holmes getting the job done, but Chad Townsend has steadied the Sharks throughout their 2018 campaign. He may not be a showman but he ticks every box and as been a vital asset to Moylan who now really looks like belongs in Cronulla's spine. Edrick Lee also a close second.
Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)
John Sutton has been an integral part of South Sydney's success this season. With over 300 games of experience under his belt the veteran second-rower has arguably displayed his best football this season - starring in all 25 round games for the Bunnies. From his defence on the left edge to his hole-hitting runs in attack, Sutton just seems to get better with age. It's easy to slip into the shadows with the likes of the Burgess brothers up front and Greg Inglis out wide, but Sutton has held his own and proved there's still a few years left in him yet.
Peter Jolly (NRL.com reporter)
Andrew McCullough. No doubt he has been the super glue for the Brisbane Broncos this season. He really does keep them together in the middle of the field and his support play to the halves continues to be outstanding.
David Piepers (Big League editor)
Kerrod Holland. While Lachlan Lewis and Rhyse Martin may have lapped up the attention at Belmore, 'Dutch' has been quietly plugging away for the Bulldogs. He spend the first half of the season on the bench but in the final 10 rounds he was handed another starting chance and made the most of it. Though he only scored six tries, his attacking game is quietly improving – he's set new personal bests for try assists, line breaks, tackle breaks and a mind-boggling 400% increase in offloads. Martin has been a goal-kicking sensation, but Holland is remarkably handy with the boot as well, another handy element to an impressive all-round game.
Katie Brown (NRL.com reporter)
Campbell Graham. Yes I know he's a winger, but he's the teenager who's doing his job for South Sydney and doing it really well. He's scored seven tries in 14 games and shows so much composure for a man who's only 19!
Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)
Sione Katoa (Penrith). James Maloney and Nathan Cleary get most of the accolades for steering Penrith around but Katoa has played a big part in the Panthers premiership campaign after taking over the hooking role when Peter Wallace retired mid-season. Katoa handles the ball more than anyone else in the Penrith team, he has a top passing game and is also another kicking option for the Panthers.
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