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Renouf: Fans had their say, my turn in poll position

This week I took a stab at the questions recently put to fans in the NRL.com Fans' Poll and came up with plenty of the same answers, along with a dark horse for buy of the year and most improved player.

I had to agree with the majority when it came to the form of Tom Trbojevic this year and quite a few of the other positional awards.

The results

Which premiership team do you support?

No surprises here, I'm a Broncos man.

Who has been the best player in 2021?

I know he's only played 14 games but you have to go with Tom Trbojevic, looking at what he did in Origin as well. He's just been amazing.

Best coach

I think you've got to give it to Craig Bellamy. I predicted at the start of the year the Storm might struggle a bit without Cameron Smith but Craig has just shown what a great coach he is.

Best fullback

Tom Trbojevic. I can't say he's been the best player but not the best fullback!

Tom Trbojevic explodes through a hole

Best winger

Brian To'o. He's had a great season.

Best centre

I have to give it to Joey Manu over Justin Olam. I just think Joey Manu has a more rounded game and all the skills.

Best five-eighth

Cody Walker. I love the way he's been playing.

Best halfback

Nathan Cleary. That one's easy.

Luai relieved Cleary's back after 'shambles' at halfback

Best lock

Cameron Murray. He's just been so consistent this year.

Best second-rower

I have to give it to David Fifita. I know he's been a bit up and down but what he's done when he's been playing well, he's so destructive and hard to stop.

Best prop

Payne Haas, no question at all.

Best hooker

I have to give it to Brandon Smith, even though he started the year probably not as the first-choice hooker at his club. He's a totally different style to Cameron Smith and even Harry Grant but for the Storm to have been this good the year after Cameron's retirement says a lot about how well Brandon has gone.

Best rookie

There's probably two standout candidates but Sam Walker is ahead of Reece Walsh for me.

Sam Walker claims Spirit of Anzac Medal

Best recruit

A bit of a different one to what some people might have picked maybe but I've gone with Jake Clifford. He's made a huge difference to the Knights since moving down from the Cowboys. He's really stepped up and found a home there and I think he's been very good for Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga as well.

Best captain

A bit like Brandon at hooker and Craig as best coach, I have to give this one to Dale Finucane and Jesse Bromwich. Losing Cameron Smith was massive but they've just shown how good the leadership still is down there.

Finucane hoping to bring Bellamy’s influence to Cronulla

Most improved player

I went for Tesi Niu. He started the season at centre then got injured and lost his spot but the way he's come back, he's really added something to Brisbane and is putting together a really strong finish to the season.

2021 premiers

I can't go past the Storm. I think Penrith should get to the grand final but if Melbourne play their best they'll be extremely hard to beat.

Which team do you most like to see your team beat?

I have to say Canberra. We had such a great rivalry back in the early nineties with how strong both teams were. They had a super team and the two clubs just dominated. Unfortunately we never got to play them in a grand final but it was always a great game when the Broncos and Raiders came together.

If you were starting a club, who's the first player you'd sign?

Tommy Turbo. You only have to look at the impact he had on Manly when he came back from injury this year.

Which player will win the Dally M Medal?

Turbo again. Even with the delayed start, he's been their best player in just about every game they've won.

On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the performance of the referees in 2021?

2.5. I don't want to be too hard on them, they have a very tough job but they haven't been excellent this year. I get bamboozled by some of the decisions.

How often should the Bunker be used?

About the same. I'm happy with how often we go to the Bunker at the moment, they just need to get a few more decisions right.

Should the Bunker be used to rule on forward passes?

As long as they can get the technology right then I'd like to see the Bunker be able to rule on forward passes in try-scoring situations.

Breakout season: The five most-improved players in 2021

Do you believe the NRL's new six-again rule is a positive addition to the sport?

I don't mind it but there's times when I'd prefer a penalty to be given rather than the reset. For example if you're coming out of your end and you get a six-again on play one there's no real advantage, you should be able to get the clearing kick and move upfield.

How many captain's challenges should each team get?

They've got it right at the moment with the one challenge. Obviously if you get one right you can keep using it so I think that's fair.

Would you like to see a transfer window introduced?

I don't really think there's a perfect solution with how the contracts work, I'm not too fussed about this one.

How many teams should contest the NRL finals series?

I think eight is the right cut-off.

Let's tackle this together

Should the number of teams change in the NRL?

Just with the way the comp is at the moment and you look at the 16 teams we have, I wouldn't like another team to come in. I think we need a period of building stronger teams across the 16 clubs we already have. At the moment it's already basically the top four or five against the rest. When we do eventually expand I don't believe we need another Brisbane team either.

On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the performance of the NRL administration in 2021?

5. I think they've done a great job. Over the last couple of years with COVID, they've kept the comp going and that's all you can ask.

Do you support the increased use of the sin bin for foul play?

I don't really support the increase. I think some of those things could be sorted after the game, just put them on report and let the match review committee deal with it.

Who is your favourite TV play-by-play caller?

It's Vossy these days. Rabs is my ultimate, he's the greatest caller I've heard but he's not on all the time anymore.

Who is your favourite TV analyst?

Sterlo. He's always consistent and fair, he doesn't show bias and he really knows his stuff.

What do you think of the speed of the game?

I like the increased speed of the game. Especially as a back you don't mind that, the forwards might say different!

Do you like the introduction of the two-point field goal?

Yeah I quite like it. It adds a bit of variety and entertainment, there's been a few kicked this year which has been good.

 

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