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Experts' View: Best captain of 2021

A strong leader is at the core of every great team. Someone who uses both words and actions to show those around them how things should be done.

The Telstra Premiership has seen some impressive captains in 2021, spread from the teams that'll be battling it out for the title down to those at the bottom of the ladder.

The experts at NRL.com have their say on who's done the best job in 2021.

Experts' view - Captain of the Year

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

It has to be Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane at the Storm. Obviously, it has taken two to replace Cameron Smith but that’s been justified by the fact they sit on top of the table and are genuine premiership contenders.

Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

Adam Reynolds. Look at everything he has gone through this year - his public contract situation, breaking records and being in charge of a team looking to send both he and Wayne Bennett out as winners. He has been great.

Record beckons as stellar Storm chase history

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane. They have done amazing again to keep the motivation and discipline high all year. Their superb run of wins is proof of that.

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers legend)

James Tedesco. Stepping into the role after the retirement of Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend was never going to be easy. But Teddy has really led by example in an injury-ravaged team. He also captained NSW to a series win.

‘Rusty’ Johnston’s belief high despite Panthers setback

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

I continue to be in awe of the effort and commitment of Josh Jackson. The Bulldogs have struggled for several years but Jackson continues to lead this team well. The mark of a true leader has is how they behave in tough times and Jackson has shown his true colours.

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

Daly Cherry-Evans. The Manly skipper remained positive when his team was struggling at the start of the year and while consistently being one of their top players, DCE has helped others around him to shine.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor-in-chief)

James Tedesco has been propelled into the captaincy at club and NSW level over the past 12 months due to Boyd Cordner’s early retirement and he’s followed his predecessor’s lead by being big on actions instead of words. His results speak for themselves.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

Many questioned the Panthers’ choice of Nathan Cleary’s appointment as co-captain alongside Isaah Yeo but it’s worked out a treat for the side. Cleary’s game has gone to another level while Yeo is finally receiving all the credit he deserves. 

Talking the benefits of VET pathways in the Top End

Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

Daly Cherry-Evans. Manly needed a calm head and a reassuring voice after their horror start. DCE provided that and then some. Now they're flying and he remains a great leader. Everyone in that team looks up to him.

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

The Panthers are blessed to have two outstanding leaders in Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo. Both men know what it takes to achieve success at the top level and set incredibly high standards on the field. Respected by teammates and rivals alike, they have put their club in a position to improve on 2020.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

James Tedesco. The unexpected retirement of Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner (who managed just 47 minutes of game time between them this year), meant Tedesco was thrown into the deep end, far sooner than he would’ve expected. Tedesco has since done an exceptional job guiding the Roosters into the top four.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

There’s been some great leaders this year but none better than Daly Cherry-Evans. Manly were a rabble after four rounds and could easily have fallen apart. Getting Turbo back clearly helped but DCE's leadership and on-field performances have been top shelf.

Too soon for finals excitement, say Knights

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

James Tedesco. The Roosters have an entire 1-13 out this weekend that includes Keary, Cordner, Friend, Crichton and Radley. Yet they still sit fourth, with Tedesco’s leadership at the fore. Has gone to another level since Origin - his first successful campaign as Blues captain as well.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

James Tedesco’s leadership at the Roosters has been remarkable. With premiership-winning co-captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend forced into retirement, Brett Morris also hanging up the boots and key playmaker Luke Keary injured, Tedesco has rallied a team littered with youngsters. 

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

It’s rare for any team to lose three-star players to injury-forced retirements early in a season – and rarer still for two of those players to be the club’s co-captains. So James Tedesco had big shoes to fill when he stepped into the role vacated by Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend, and he set the example for the Roosters.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

The way the Roosters season has gone with mounting injuries, a team held together with Clag glue, the weight of expectation, and still delivering wins, it has to be James Tedesco. In a team built on standards, he continues to set the example even when there are plenty of excuses not to. 

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