Props widely considered the least skillful players who are just there for their ‘size’ rarely get the accolades. While the players in the spine and out wide get the awards, the men in the engine room lay the platform for those players to shine. Eating up metres like a buffet, these five props in particular are the standouts in this role and could rival some of the best props I’ve had the pleasure to see including Shane Webcke, Glenn Lazarus and Petero Civoniceva.
5. Josh McGuire, Brisbane Broncos:
Despite being regarded as a prop, at times last season it seemed he was playing as a backrower. Even as he motored over opponents big and small, he was still managing to play big minutes. I remember one game against the Raiders where he played 65 minutes…at prop! With the loss of Ben Hannant and Martin Kennedy this season, McGuire will take on a more senior role in the forwards. Having been close to Queensland selection in recent seasons, this year could be his to make the next step.
4. Matt Scott, North Queensland Cowboys:
A mainstay in the Queensland and Australian teams over the last five years, Scott has established himself as one of the premier front-rowers in the game. Alongside Kiwi/NSW team-mate James Tamou, they have laid the platform for the best player in the game, Johnathan Thurston, to shine. At 29, Scott is in the prime of his career so Cowboys fans will be hoping he can lead his side to the next level and a maiden premiership for the club.
3. Jesse Bromwich, Melbourne Storm:
Melbourne and Craig Bellamy have a habit of turning journeymen props into respected and feared big men. Bryan Norrie is one of the main success stories but young prop Bromwich is a unique case. After moving to Australia from New Zealand, he first played for the mighty Orange Hawks. After impressing there Bellamy signed him to the Storm and as the cliche goes, the rest is history. Dominating teams alongside his brother Kenny, Jesse is set for another huge season. Norrie has retired so more pressure will fall on the 25-year-old’s shoulders.
2. George Burgess, Souths Sydney Rabbitohs:
George Burgess is 22. Let that just sink in for a minute. Comfortably with still ten years left in his career, the Englishman is already one of the best props in the game. Having represented the Three Lions eight times and 50 games for Souths, Burgess is only going to get better with age and that is scary. While his brothers Sam and Luke have left the club, George and twin Tom are still there and they have plenty to offer. He will have to take on a leadership role despite his young age so look for him to tear apart poor defenders in 2015.
1. James Graham, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs:
A couple of years ago Graham’s name was taken through the mud after trying to take a chuck out of Billy Slater’s ear in the 2012 Grand Final. But, to his credit he served his suspension and has not looked back. Coming to Australia with a great reputation from his time at St Helens, the Bulldogs knew they were signing a quality player. He has lived up to the height and much more. His ability to run over defenders and act as a second halfback with his ball playing abilities highlights why he is the best prop in the game. Leading the forward pack and possibly the team as club captain, Graham will tear apart opposition defences all season and even jag a few tries and try assists along the way.