5. Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Hodkinson last year led the Blues to their first series triumph in eight Origin outings as well as leading the Bulldogs to the NRL Grand final. The Canterbury halfback looked to fade away from significance as the Bulldogs limped in to the finals series in weak fashion before he again fired particularly with his field goal kicking. His ability to pull off big plays at big moments showed what a class act he is, highlighted by his Origin one try and his two field goals against Manly to win their semi final encounter in 2014.
4. Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Rumour had it that Reynolds was unwanted at the Bunnies beyond the 2014 season but the 24 year old responded to the talk by leading the side to their first premiership in 43 years in 2014. It was a fantastic way to answer the critics and sure up his future, the South’s side moving quickly to secure their halfback for a further two years following the result. Touted as a possible Origin player last year, Reynolds couldn’t outshine Hodkinson to steal the starting spot however after the Origin period he stamped his authority, showing up Hodkinson in their Grand Final encounter, and scored a try of his own. He personifies competitive spirit, always looking to get involved in the game.
3. Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
Cronk has been one of the dominant halves of the competition for a decade now. Known for his work ethic off the field Cronk’s kicking game is meticulous, due to the extra hours he is willing to spend off the field practicing. While some may say he is past his best, Cronk still knows how to win the game for his side. The importance of Cronk was highlighted when he broke his arm in the opening minutes of the first Origin game last year. Following the exit of their half back the Queensland side lacked direction, such is the halfbacks importance. Cronk is one of the games great thinkers and this is what makes him such an asset and such a game changer.
2. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
Cherry- Evans rise to stardom has been rapid. Having been plucked from the Queensland Cup for the start of the 2011 season he has risen to be a key member in Queensland and Australian representative duties. DCE is known for his creative style and has the ability to turn nothing in to something. His ability to find the clutch play for his side was highlighted when he kicked a field goal to win the game against the Newcastle Knights in round 15 last year when the Sea Eagles had looked down and out for the majority of the contest. At just 25 years of age DCE is still yet to reach his prime, a scary thought for opposition sides. Off contract after 2015 he is the hottest prospect on the open market this season.
1. Jonathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
Thurston can only be described as a freak. He is one player that can seemingly win a game on his own. He is competitive, skillful, and has impressive leadership qualities. His desire to win is often shown when he rallies his team in a huddle. If an opposition player makes a break, the first player trailing them is almost always Thurston such is his competitive nature. Following their loss to the Sydney Roosters that saw the Cowboys bundled out of the Finals last season Thurston showed his class off the field by maintaining composure as the commentary team probed him about a controversial decision. Class on and off the field, Thurston outshines his rivals as the best halfback currently in the game.
Mitch Cornish (Canberra Raiders)
Cornish is yet to solidify his spot in the Canberra Raiders side with coach Ricky Stuart choosing to blood the youngster off the bench for the end of the 2014 season. The brief bursts we have seen from the rookie Raider have show enough to show what a great prospect the twenty two year old is for the Green machine. He has an astute kicking game and a wicked pass. Cornish looks to be a creative half, with a good brain for organising the team around. If he can continue to improve his defense Cornish will certainly have a massive future. Alongside Luke Brooks of the Wests Tigers, whom Cornish faced in his first starting effort in round 25 last year, the Raiders’ halfback is one of the great prospects coming through the ranks.
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With the teams confirmed today, the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championships will start a...