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Forwards dominate player of the year honours in 33rd Big League Annual

End-of-year honours are usually dominated by halfbacks but forwards fill all but one of the five spots in David Middleton's 33rd Big League Annual.

The official NRL statistician has also compiled a Team of the Decade, while also crunching the numbers from the season just gone in the magazine which went on sale on Thursday.

When it came to the five players of the year for 2019, Middleton settled on Roosters pair James Tedesco and Siosiua Taukeiaho, Rabbitohs duo Cameron Murray and Damien Cook and Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii.

He can't remember choosing so many forwards.

"It's very much a personal thing but it's viewed over the entire season; rep football, finals football and club footy as well," Middleton said.

As for the decade which came to an end after the Roosters claimed the 2019 title, Middleton has taken a thorough look back at all the defining statistics, players and coaches in the Annual.

"There are about 16 different tables in there looking at who's topped the lists for the decade," Middleton told

"We've done that before, 10 years ago, and it's interesting to look at who was at the top 10 years ago as well.

"I do all the stats on most appearances, tries, goals, points, most Test appearances, Origins and all the rest of it."

Every official fixture for 2019, from the All Stars and World Club Challenge games played in February to the end-of-season World Cup 9s and Tests, is covered off in complete statistical detail.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Raiders

There are several pages analysing each NRL club's 2019 output, with historical records included to boot.

And the fast-growing nature of the women's game means there is a good portion dedicated to NRLW and female representative matches.

"A decade ago we barely even mentioned women's rugby league. I think we might have put in the results for the World Cup in 2008," said Middleton.

"There was no match coverage of the games. But the game has just flourished in the last four to five years. There is a lot of coverage of the women's game now and it's only going to get bigger."

It's not all figures and decimals, however, with an array of pictures also included in the bumper issue.

"We've had different formats of the Annual over the years but I think this is the best one because it allows all the photos and the colour of the game to be shown," Middleton said.

"There are some spectacular images in there... It really adds to the quality of the product."

Middleton's passion for the Annual is burning bright after all these years – even if he frets about missing the printing deadline.

"I get to a point sometime after the grand final every year where I think, 'How the hell am I ever going to get it done?'," he said.

Match Highlights: Broncos v Dragons

"I just got to the line this year and I'll have to keep my head down to get on top of it every year because the game's getting bigger and bigger all the time.

"It's a real challenge but it's still great. It underpins all the work I do during the year so it kind of forces me to update all the records and information.

"I'm really happy with how it's turned out."

The 2019 Big League Annual is available at newsagents in Australia and New Zealand.

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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