You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Experts' view: Best captain of 2020?

Captaincy is about much more than just running out first and tossing the coin before a match.

Leadership, both on and off the field, is expected of those bestowed with such an honour.

As well as needing to provide a bridge between the players and the coach, a good captain is also able to keep the playing group in the right frame of mind.

The experts at have decided which skipper did the best job in 2020 - and the number of wins is not the sole measure of success.

Experts' view

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

Cameron Smith. This his more than likely his last year of rugby league. He seems like the obvious choice. The way he leads his team and leads by example just can't be matched.

Semi Finals + NRLW Round 2: SBW returns, Eels name Ferguson

Alicia Newton ( reporter)

James Tamou. He was heavily criticised last year when handed the captaincy but like star halfback Nathan Cleary has kicked on without James Maloney in the team. Tamou has been enormous for the younger players at the club and personally, he's producing his best season since his premiership win with the Cowboys in 2015.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

There's a mountain of pressure on Parramatta every time they take the field with the club's 34-year wait for its next premiership becoming a bigger burden as time passes yet Clint Gutherson has taken the weight of history on his shoulders with aplomb. He never stops giving his all and his teams have followed his lead-by-example attitude.

Raiders laud Bateman’s edge

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

James Tamou has had an exceptional year guiding the Panthers.  The Panthers have a real mix of experience and youth in their team and Tamou has not only led on the field but also kept this group together.  He will be sorely missed in 2021.

Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

Cameron Smith gets my vote. In a year when the Panthers and Eels were rising, the Roosters appeared to have an unstoppable squad and the Storm were forced to relocate from Melbourne to Queensland, Smith's side still finished the season in second place. Despite being away from home for months,  the team's on-field performances haven't slipped.

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Just like Todd Payten, no captain has had to navigate a season quite like the Warriors, and RTS has kept them together with true leadership. This 2020 season can set a defining legacy for the club if they run with it the right way, and their skipper is more responsible than most for that.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

James Tamou. The Penrith captain has been in charge of the NRL's most consistent team while his own future was playing out in the background without ever becoming a distraction. Tamou also spent the off-season helping to fight bushfires in Braidwood in a sign of courage and character. 

Joel Gould ( reporter)

James Tamou is the unsung leader of the teams still alive in the finals but in no way should he be underestimated. The veteran prop has done a superb job with his young Panthers team this year and his leadership style is "follow me and do what I do". Leading his Panthers to a minor premiership and a preliminary final has been a remarkable achievement.

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

With a special shout out to the selfless leadership shown by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, I have to give my vote to James Tamou. Leading a very young squad at a club that had an ordinary 2019 and missed the finals, Tamou has helped bond that group together and keep their heads level through plenty of success.

Troy Whittaker ( reporter)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's inspirational efforts for the Warriors have been well-documented, but Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith has also done a marvellous job with his team based on the Sunshine Coast. A fifth straight top-two finish is testament to his leadership. 

Victoria Bitter presents – 'Keeping The Light On' in Tathra

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

Mitchell Pearce. While the hookers and five-eighths constantly crumbled around him through injury and positional changes, he stayed the course at No.7 and kept the Knights ship steady, sailing her all the way into the NRL finals.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

Jarrod Croker is one of the game's most respected leaders and he has again done a sensational job at the helm of the Raiders. Ricky Stuart's men could have been forgiven for dropping their bundle after the heartbreak of last year's decider, but with Croker setting the standards they overcame the loss of Josh Hodgson to win 14 games and give themselves a shot at redemption.

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

He may be the obvious choice, but that’s for a reason. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sacrificed more than any other captain this year to remain a part of the Warriors NRL campaign. The skipper stuck it out in Australia despite revealing that each and every day, he considered flying home to New Zealand to be with his family. He remained a defiant leader in the club’s most challenging year.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners