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The VB Hard Earned award has been launched for 2021 with an updated index to better reflect performance.

Used to judge the hardest-working players in each NRL match, the VB Hard Earned index rewards the toilers who rack up runs, tackles, supports, decoys, offloads, charge-downs and tackle-breaks.

Players are given an index score based on their output and the highest-scoring players in each position make the Team of the Week. Warriors lock Tohu Harris and his Sea Eagles counterpart Jake Trbojevic finished level on the overall 2020 leaderboard.

The fuse is lit: An action-packed Round 1 awaits

Just as the NRL has introduced more rule changes for the upcoming season, the VB Hard Earned index has been balanced.

One tweak is that players for teams that are defeated will have negative weighting applied to their index score.

Round 1 - Croft gets the nod, Benji named, Holmes shifts to wing

This will reduce scenarios in which a player on a well-beaten team is named the VB Hard Earned man of the match - often because their side spent much of the game defending or working the ball out of their own end, allowing the player to inflate their base statistics.

Here are the VB Hard Earned index changes in detail:

  • Runs have been divided into three categories with different weightings; line engaged (one point), runs under eight metres (two points) and runs over eight metres (three points). The new system will reward players who take the ball to the defensive line and gain post-contact metres.
  • Weighting for offloads, tackle-breaks and tackles have increased from one to two points.
  • Negative weighting for missed tackles has changed from minus one to minus two points.
  • If a team concedes one more try than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by five percent.
  • If a team concedes two more tries than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 10 percent.
  • If a team concedes three more tries than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 15 percent.
  • If a team concedes four-plus tries more than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 20 percent.
  • If teams finish with the same amount of tries, all players scores will stay at their true value. Players scores will never increase regardless of how many tries their team scores.

A point will still be added for every charge-down, decoy and support.