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Experts' view: Who's most valuable player to their team?

With Tom Trbojevic back at Manly and producing stunning form to turn their season around in a matter of weeks, the question has to be asked - is he the most valuable player to a club in the NRL?

Or is it someone like Nathan Cleary, the focus of Penrith's red-hot run of success over the past couple of seasons, Titans recruit David Fifita after his impact at his new club or Kalyn Ponga, who tends to get Newcastle firing when he's at his best?

The experts have studied the pros and cons of the game's most valuable player at their club and come up with their own views on which player is the most significant contributor to their team.

Experts' view - Which player is most important to their team?

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

In his few games played Sam Walker has already shown how influential he is to the Roosters. They don't look to have lost much with the injury to Luke Keary. What a great young player he is.

Walker steps through to set up Butcher

Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

Tom Trbojevic. If you look at current form you would say he is the most important player in the competition. Since he has returned Manly have looked like a top-eight side. He makes everyone else in that side look better.

Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

Nathan Cleary for me is the most important player to his team. There are so many reasons but the main ones I like is the fact his kicking game and game management skills are the best in the world. 

Farah sets the record straight on Wests Tigers trainer role

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers great)

Tom Trbojevic. Anyone who has watched Manly in the last two weeks can see what he means to that team. A great attacking player, but maybe more importantly, someone who provides confidence to those around him.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

As well as Tom Trbojevic, another player crucial to the enthusiasm of his team is Kalyn Ponga.  He may not be the difference every week for the Knights, but he is a player that can create opportunity out of nowhere and has the ability to change a game on his own. The Knights always look more enthusiastic when he plays.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Not only is he the captain, RTS averages more metres carrying the ball than any other player and most of his runs are from his own defensive end at the start of a set. He inspires his team-mates and will be sorely missed when he leaves at the end of the season.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

Jason Taumalolo. He's a one-man wrecking ball and so crucial to the Cowboys' chances. With the powerhouse lock coming back from injury and the team riding high on a three-game winning streak after a terrible start to the season, coach Todd Payten's plan to get more quality minutes rather than quantity out of Taumalolo could propel the team into genuine finals contention.

Jayden Brailey joins Inside The NRL

Alicia Newton ( reporter)

Newcastle have looked a completely different side with Kalyn Ponga returning from injury and in the case of the past three years, has many times single-handedly got the Knights home in games. The side scraped with two wins without him to start the season but struggled to pile on points without him.

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. This could be argued on his influence in keeping the nomadic Warriors together last season alone. Toss in his kick returns, attacking brilliance and inspirational defence, and no player contributes more across the NRL. Which is why he can’t shift to the wing again, no matter how promising Reece Walsh is.  

What makes Turbo so special

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

It’s hard to go past Tom Trbojevic given his incredible form and the impact it has had on Manly. His own statistics are scary, but it’s the pressure he takes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Kieran Foran and his brother Jake that sees the Sea Eagles benefit immensely when he’s fit and firing. Manly’s 16 wins from their past 21 matches when Turbo is playing says it all.

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

A bit of a left-field – or should that be left wing – selection here, but just about the hardest player to replace in a top team at the moment for mine is Brian To’o.

As dominant as Nathan Cleary has been, Penrith beat the Storm with Matt Burton stepping in. With Josh Mansour gone and rookie Charlie Staines more of a finisher than a yardage gainer, To’o’s ridiculous work out of the back-field starting Penrith’s sets has him as possibly the most irreplaceable player in the NRL right now.

Paul Zalunardo ( senior journalist)

David Fifita. The Titans have one of the most damaging ball-runners in recent memory. Even though their form as a team hasn't been great, Fifita has been irrepressible. At times it looks like his team has snuck an 18-year-old into an under 14s match. A sight to behold.

David Fifita gets his second hat-trick of the year

Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

It’s hard to imagine a bigger turnaround for a team than what Manly has experienced with Tom Trbojevic lately, but I’d argue Kalyn Ponga has just as big an influence on the Newcastle Knights’ fortunes. The Queensland star beat the Sharks almost single-handedly a couple of weeks back with two tries, two try assists and three goals. Newcastle can struggle to generate tries without him.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

Take Nathan Cleary out of the high-flying Panthers and they might start low flying very quickly. In just about every other position on the park the Panthers can fill a hole if someone gets injured but not at halfback, where Cleary's speed, smarts and sublime skills hold the key to their title charge.

Round 8 - Chambers named, Milford returns, Papalii missing

Kenny Scott ( podcaster)

David Fifita. He is a human wrecking ball and his recruitment has completely flipped the big brother/little brother narrative with the Broncos. Not only is he breaking tackles and scoring tries, he is also lifting the enthusiasm of the rest of the team. 


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

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