Billy Slater made his much anticipated return to Rugby League after an injury plagued 24 months and the 34-year-old didn’t miss a beat. The dynamo finished the regular season with 8 tries, 15 line breaks, 18 try assists and 19 line break assists.
2 Suliasi Vunvivalu (Melbourne Storm) Contenders: Nic Cotric, Semi Radradra.
46 tries in 44 first grade games including 23 meat pies this season, what a freak! The flying Fijian put in one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a winger in 2017. Averages 125 metres a game this year which includes a mammoth 25 line breaks, 82 tackle breaks and an impressive 20 offloads.
Has earnt his comparisons to Greg Inglis in recent weeks with his 97 tackle breaks among the best in the league this season. His 18 tries, 16 line breaks and 5 try assists gives him the mantle of best attacking centre in 2017.
After a dour 2016 season, Dylan Walker bounced back to terrific form in 2017. Manly’s leading point scorer this year with 13 tries and 28 goals, Walker lead the way for the Sea Eagles backs with a team high tackle bust tally of 82 to go along with his 102 metres per game, 13 line breaks and 9 try assists.
For the second straight season Canberra’s Jordan Rapana has topped his clubs try scoring tally with 21 tries. Among the best finishers in the competition, Rapana lead the league in tackle busts with 152. Rapana also lead the way for wingers with line breaks (27), offloads (31) and metres per game (140).
Did remarkably well to earn North Queensland a finals berth after losing club co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matthew Scott in the early stages of the season. Finished the season with 76 tackle breaks, 20 try assists, 13 line breaks and 10 tries of his own.
The answer to New South Wales decade long halves problem. Nathan Cleary lead the competition in kick metres and points scored (226) while also contributing 13 try assists, 14 line break assists and 11 tries.
Another Sea Eagle who struggled in 2016 but came along in leaps and bounds in 2017. Taupau averaged a whopping 152 metres a game this season along with 75 tackle breaks and a competition high 71 offloads.
I don’t know if this selection needs much explaining but nonetheless…The Australian, Queensland and Storm captain continued to break records this season. One of the smartest and most creative dummy-halfs to ever grace the football field, the next immortal recorded 14 try assists and 17 line break assists this season along with his average of 37 tackles a game.
10 Paul Vaughn (St. George Illawarra Dragons) Contenders: Josh McGuire.
It was an injustice that this man did not gain representative honours in season 2017. The best prop in the competition this year, Vaughn ended the season with 55 tackle busts, 10 line breaks, 8 tries and an average of 140 metres per game. Vaughn also contributed a career high 27 tackles per game for St. George Illawarra.
11 Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters) Contenders: Luke Lewis, Felise Kaufusi.
The New South Wales Origin skipper lead the way for the Easts forwards this year. Recording 8 line breaks and 5 tries to go along with his average of 147 metres a game, the 25-year-old will be one to watch in the end of season World Cup.
Angus Crichton quickly became a fan favourite this season with his hard running and never say die attitude in defence. One of only three players to make this list from teams outside the top eight, Crichton recorded 10 line breaks and 7 tries this season along with a hattrick against the Gold Coast Titans in Round 15. Crichton also broke his foot during the contest on the Gold Coast but continued to play on throughout the season, averaging 112 metres and 30 tackles per game.
A lot like Cameron Smith, this man needs no introduction. In the abscence of Matthew Scott, James Tamou and Ben Hannant this season, Jason Taumalolo lead from the front. Averaging 202 metres per game along with his 110 tackle breaks and 30 offloads, the 24-year-old has usurped Paul Gallen as the best lock in the NRL.
14 Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks)
15 Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels)
16 Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
17 Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Coach: Brad Arthur (Parramatta Eels) Contenders: Paul Green, Trent Barrett.