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Powerade Next Generation: Team of the Year

Some of the NRL's brightest young stars have been recognised for their individual excellence this season through selection in the fan-voted Powerade Next Generation Team of the Year.

Analysing statistics and data each round throughout the year, Powerade and the NRL have nominated two rising players for the Powerade Next Generation Player of the Week award, with fans selecting the winner on social media.

Those who polled the most votes earned a place in the Powerade Next Generation Team of the Year.

To be eligible, a "Next Generation" player must have been under 24 at the start of the year and have played less than 50 NRL matches.

Team of the year

Fullback - Kalyn Ponga (Knights)

Honourable mentions: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders), Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys)

Newcastle wunderkind Kalyn Ponga got the nod at fullback despite a topsy-turvy campaign for the Knights.

Ponga scored a try in six consecutive matches from rounds six to 11, including a double against the Dragons, and finished the year with 11 four-pointers - the equal second-most of any No.1 in the competition.

The hot-stepping Queensland Origin star's contributions of nine try assists, 15 line breaks and 105 tackle busts were the highest in the Powerade Next Generation Team.

Additionally, Ponga won three fan-voted Powerade Next Generation Player of the Week awards.

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As voted by you, @poweradeau’s Next Generation Player from Round 19 is @kalyn__ponga! #NRL

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Wingers - Brian To'o (Panthers) and Reuben Garrick (Sea Eagles)

Honourable mention: Paul Momirovski (Wests Tigers)

The energetic Brian To'o came into first grade for Penrith in round 10 and never left, scoring nine tries and posting an average metre count of 166 per game.

To'o's enthusiasm in all aspects of the game quickly endeared him to fans and teammates alike.

Unwanted by the Dragons, Reuben Garrick moved to Manly for an NRL opportunity - and he certainly made the most of it.

Garrick has scored 16 tries and kicked 58 goals thus far and will hope to cap off an outstanding maiden season with a premiership.

Centres - Bronson Xerri (Sharks) and Curtis Scott (Storm)

Hype swirled around Bronson Xerri in the pre-season and the lightning-fast teenager didn't take long to justify it once he received a shot in the Sharks line-up.

Not just a strike ball-runner - crossing for a Powerade Next Generation Team of the Year-best 12 tries and running for 126 metres per match - Xerri also produced nine try assists.

Scott has endured a turbulent 2019 but his class has shone through in patches, the Melbourne outside back averaging 128 metres from seven NRL appearances amid injury and selection woes.

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As voted by you, @poweradeau’s Next Generation Player for Round 9 is @curtisscott4! #NRL

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Five-eighth - Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)

Filling the shoes of Shaun Johnson was never going to be easy, but Warriors youngster Chanel Harris-Tavita gave it a good crack in the first half of the year.

Kodi Nikorima's mid-season arrival pushed the composed Harris-Tavita to an interchange role but he showed the versatility required to succeed as a utility.

After 13 appearances, Harris-Tavita notched two tries and three try assists. He also made his international debut for Samoa in June.

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As voted by you, @poweradeau’s Next Generation Player from Round 21 is Chanel Harris-Tavita! #NRL

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Halfback - Dylan Brown (Eels)

He's still 19 but Parramatta playmaker Dylan Brown has never seemed overawed on any occasion.

A robust half not afraid of contact, Brown averages 79 metres and 23 tackles per match.

Although a back injury sidelined him for 11 weeks after just three appearances, Brown's return in round 15 has helped the Eels to eight wins from their past 11 matches as they aim for premiership glory.

Props - Payne Haas (Broncos) and Jai Arrow (Titans)

In trying seasons for their clubs, Payne Haas and Jai Arrow provided much-needed hope.

After missing the first four matches with suspension, the agile Haas wreaked havoc on defences for the remainder of the year with a whopping average of 189 metres per outing - 72 of those post-contact.

The powerhouse NSW Origin front-rower made six line breaks, scored four tries, popped six offloads and got through 34 tackles a game.

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As voted by you, @poweradeau’s Next Generation Player from Round 22 is @lege_era0!

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Meanwhile, Arrow virtually carried the last-placed Titans this year and they crumbled when he succumbed to an ankle problem mid-year.

The Queensland forward racked up 135 metres and 30 tackles a match in a team often beaten badly.

Hooker - Brandon Smith (Storm)

Stuck behind Cameron Smith for Melbourne's hooking role, Brandon Smith's performances as a bench middle and cameos at dummy-half have seen him selected in the Next Generation Team of the Year.

In less than 50 minutes each week, Smith churns out 98.2 metres and 23.6 tackles and will be a key part of the Storm's title charge.

He showed exactly what he can do when he's afforded the chance to start in the No.9 as he blitzed Tonga while representing New Zealand in June.

Second-rowers - David Fifita (Broncos) and Briton Nikora (Sharks)

Brisbane's David Fifita rose from a bench player to one of the most destructive back-rowers in the competition by season's end, often tearing teams apart in tandem with Haas.

Ten line breaks for the year and 4.3 tackle busts per match demonstrate the power Fifita possesses. His form was rewarded with a Queensland debut.

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As voted by you, @poweradeau’s Next Generation Player from Round 23 is @david_fifitajnr! #NRL

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Cronulla entered 2019 with the right second-row position up for grabs following the retirement of Luke Lewis. It didn't take long for Briton Nikora to ensure the spot belonged to him.

A scything hole runner who crashed over for seven tries and broke the line eight times, Nikora also defended stoutly in effecting 32.5 tackles per match.

Lock - Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs)

Entrusted with the No.13 jersey by new South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett, Cameron Murray has done what's required and then some.

The mature 21-year-old hits like an axe in defence and pokes his nose through the line in attack more often than not with his terrific leg speed and footwork.

He matched 115 metres with 36 tackles per appearance, proving his penchant for working hard, and performed admirably when thrown into the Origin cauldron for NSW.

Interchange - Sitili Tupouniua (Roosters)

Honourable mention: Ryan Papenhuyzen

The Roosters have lost nothing when Sitili Tupouniua has been selected on the interchange throughout the year.

The forward averages 61.2 metres per top grade appearance, a decent return given he often only gets around 30 minutes on the park.

Powerade Next Generation Player of the Year – Cameron Murray

The final fan poll took place this week to determine the inaugural Next Generation Player of the Year. Rabbitohs standout Cameron Murray edged Broncos powerhouse Payne Haas with 55% of the vote.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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