A third of the 2019 Telstra Premiership season has been completed with some of the hardest-working players in the game continuing to deliver for the VB Hard Earned award.
With no star playmaker or highly-paid outside back in sight, the VB Hard Earned award recognises the true performers of our game.
Based off an index point-scoring system, players' efforts are calculated with a focus on runs, tackles, offloads, tackle busts, support and decoy plays plus charge downs.
Players will lose points for negative plays including one point for every missed tackle, four points per error or penalty conceded, while a sin-binning will cost them eight points.
After eight rounds, six players who rounded out the top eight following round four results remain on the leaderboard.
Check out the new leaderboard and stay tuned to NRL.com for updates on the Hard Earned Award each month to see if Trbojevic can hold onto his mantle at the top or whether one of the challengers will knock him off.
The VB Hard Earned Leaderboard
8. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
The Rabbitohs forward has forced his way into the competition's top eight after an increased defensive workload and rise in offloads (eight in four games) over the past month. Murray is averaging a career-high 136 metres and 35 tackles per game, plus 21 tackle busts overall.
7. Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans)
Titans lock Jai Arrow's numbers have increased with more time on the paddock following the absence of Jarrod Wallace through suspension and the loss of Ryan James to an ACL injury. Arrow started the 2019 season in solid attacking fashion but has been defensively sound in recent weeks with 46 and 44 tackles respectively.
Bulldogs v Knights - Magic Round
6. Aiden Tolman (Canterbury Bulldogs)
The ever-consistent Bulldogs prop has maintained his position in sixth place after another solid month. Tolman's metres have slightly decreased after a strong start to the season but the 30-year-old continues to average a healthy 137.8 metres per outing – his best numbers since 2016. Tolman has also maintained his 37 tackles per game figure.
5. Alex Twal (Wests Tigers)
No change for Wests Tigers prop Alex Twal who continues to produce solid numbers including a whopping 58 tackles against the Broncos in round five. Twal is keeping the likes of Kiwi international Russell Packer out of the starting side under coach Michael Maguire. The Tigers have been forced to defend their line over the past month but the 22-year-old has taken the opportunity with both hands to average 45 tackles per game.
4. David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights)
Newcastle prop David Klemmer has switched places with Andrew Fifita on the leaderboard with the help of a try and a truckload more tackle busts and offloads in the past month. But the overall influence of Klemmer at the Knights cannot be criticised, even when the Novocastrians were struggling with five losses on the trot, the former Bulldogs prop was at times carrying the forward pack. Klemmer's 97 per cent tackle efficiency rate is easily the best of all forwards in contention for the award. He's missed just five in eight appearances.
Titans v Sharks - Magic Round
3. Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
Injuries have hit the Sharks like a freight truck but Tongan international Andrew Fifita has stood tall in recent weeks to rise into third spot on the leaderboard. A strong outing against the Panthers in round five – where he scored a try, made five offloads and five tackle busts – has helped his cause, and the Sharks will need his work again over the next month without Aaron Woods and before the representative period kicks off.
2. James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers)
A massive jump in the ranks for Kiwi international James Fisher-Harris, who went from eighth to second in the space of a month. The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak and are being heavily scrutinised but Fisher-Harris is hardly to blame with two tries, 353 tackles and at least 121 metres per game. His only downfall, and one that could otherwise see him leading the on the ladder, is a terrible missed tackle count. He's missed a whopping 39 for the season – the equal second highest in the competition.
Sea Eagles v Broncos - Magic Round
1. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
The heart and soul of Manly just keeps on delivering. Sea Eagles forward Jake Trbojevic has taken a significant and outright lead on 709 points - 46 clear of Fisher-Harris. Trbojevic is enjoying a slight career increase of 139 metres per game, while he's seemingly guaranteed for at least 40 tackles per game. Where some players struggle with negative play, defensively he's been sound with only seven missed tackles for the season. In his only downfall, he's lost points with eight penalties conceded in total.