Peter Badel’s top 50 NRL players: 30-21
A year is a long time in footy, as highlighted by those players who have rocketed up Peter Badel's top 50, and those who have taken a tumble down the list.
For the next three days The Courier-Mail's chief rugby league writer will countdown the NRL's hottest talent, before revealing the top 10 at Monday's NRL Season Launch.
But who makes that top 10 when the field is stacked with so much talent? Does Latrell Mitchell find his way to the top after a year that saw him win a premiership and guide New South Wales to Origin glory?
Does Queenslander young gun Kalyn Ponga announce himself as the NRL's best player, after proving he belonged in the Maroons jersey?
Is it Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Cowboys big bopper Jason Taumalolo, or all-conquering captain Boyd Cordner?
Last year we saw Storm veteran Cameron Smith take out the top spot from Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Cordner rounding out the top five.
From six to ten we saw Cooper Cronk, Michael Morgan, Tom Trbojevic, Matt Gillett and Jesse Bromwich.
With a couple of retirees and some players whose form has slipped, we're bound to see some new names.
Today, we have the players ranked 30 to 21.
30. Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm)
Slightly overshadowed by wing teammate Josh Addo-Carr last season but his ability cannot be undervalued. At 192cm and 100kg, few outside backs possess the Fijian's genetic gifts. Dangerous from anywhere on the park.
KEY STAT: Scores almost every week with 61 tries from 70 career games. Remarkable.
29. Angus Crichton (Roosters)
Could be the buy of the season. Is knocking on the door of the NSW Origin team with his energy and knack of running the right lines at the right times. The Rabbitohs will miss him.
KEY STAT: Ran for a whopping 3103 metres last season and was superb in defence with 90 per cent tackle efficiency.
28. Mitchell Pearce (Knights)
The much-maligned playmaker showed his class at the Knights last season. At just 29, Pearce has already racked up 253 NRL games and is one of the most experienced halves in the code.
KEY STAT: Had 15 try-assists from as many games last season and averaged 413 kick metres per match.
27. Shaun Johnson (Sharks)
The Warriors may live to regret letting him go. Few players in the game possess his X-factor and on his day, Johnson can tear a team apart with his speed and footwork. Consistency is the final piece in his magical puzzle.
KEY STAT: In 2018, Johnson had 18 try assists and 14 secondary assists from 19 games.
26. Jesse Bromwich (Storm)
Drops out of the NRL's top 10 after an indifferent 2018 season at the Storm. No doubt he is still Melbourne's No.1 prop but will be looking to reprise the damaging runs and second-phase play that made him almost unstoppable.
KEY STAT: Made the most run metres for a forward at the Storm (2243 metres) last season.
25. Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
At 32, Inglis is a superstar and one of the most inspirational figures in the code. May have lost some pace but is brutally strong in defence and still a formidable sight attacking the tryline. The Queensland captaincy lifted him last year.
KEY STAT: Averaged 130 metres per game last year and needs one more try for 150 career four-pointers.
24. Tyson Frizell (Dragons)
Continues to impress as one of the game's most explosive back-row weapons. Powerful on the fringes and can whack blokes without the ball. Showed he now truly belongs in the representative arena.
KEY STAT: Career best run metres (2395) and line-breaks (five) in 2018.
23. James Maloney (Panthers)
Age is not wearying the 32-year-old. Maloney is a proven winner who relishes the big stage. Played a key role in NSW's series win last year and had some great individuals games in Penrith's finals campaign.
KEY STAT: A whopping 19 forced dropouts last season, underlining the strength of his kicking game.
22. David Klemmer (Knights)
A great off-season purchase for Newcastle. The 116kg giant wins the ruck almost every time with his hulking frame and his toughess adds a hard edge to the Knights pack.
KEY STAT: Averaged a whopping 181 metres per game last season and produced a massive 1650 post-contact metres.
21. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)
Give him an inch and he will take a mile. The NRL's fastest player who bolted into the NSW Origin side last year with his tryscoring brilliance. Turns half chances into outrageous tries. Entertainment plus.
KEY STAT: Has scored 41 tries in the past two seasons.