NRL.com's top 50 players: Part 3
We continue our countdown of the best 50 players in the NRL – as voted by NRL.com's writers – with the players we've ranked 30 to 21.
30. Michael Jennings (New entry) – A proven try-scorer at every level, Jennings is not only a weapon in attack for the Roosters, Blues and Kangaroos but is also an underrated defender.
NRL.com's Adrian McMurray: "Jennings has been spectacular for both club and state on a consistent basis, scoring tries in Origin II and III this season. He's always had speed and power but Jennings has also upped his game in defence of recent times, making him one of the game's best centres who is capable of producing a game-changing play."
29. Anthony Milford (Last year's rank: 25) – The pressure was on this season after the former Raiders fullback was handed the Brisbane five-eighth role, but Milford has lived up to expectations as the perfect foil for Ben Hunt in the halves. He has more tackle breaks and offloads than any other half this year, plus 11 tries and 14 try assists.
NRL.com's Tony Webeck: "Entrusted with the famed Broncos No.6 jersey in his first year at the club, Milford has grown into the role over the course of the season, mixing the spectacular in amongst the Wayne Bennett structure. His combination with Ben Hunt is now talked about as one of the best in the NRL but it is the growing understanding with fullback Darius Boyd that promises the greatest upside. One of the game's most exciting talents capable of single-handedly turning a game on its head."
28. Ben Matulino (New entry) – A former NYC star with the Warriors, this was Matulino's breakout year in the top grade with the versatile forward boasting the second-most offloads of any NRL player plus more than 150 metres per game.
NRL.com's Jack Brady: "You can talk about how great Shaun Johnson is all you want but some of the Warriors' mid-season form definitely came down to the impact of Matulino, and he was sorely missed late in the season when he was suspended around the same time Johnson was injured."
27. Matt Moylan (New entry) – Injury reduced classy fullback and proven match-winner Moylan to just 11 games this season, and his Panthers slumped to the bottom of the ladder without him.
NRL.com's Dominic Brock: "Sometimes you can judge a player by how his team fares when he's not there. Moylan had already proved he was a match-winner in 2014 and his class in attack and cool head in the clutch moments was what Penrith sorely lacked when he was on the sidelines this season."
26. Sam Thaiday (29) – After a slow start to the year and a benching from Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, Thaiday sparked back into form and has been a key weapon for the Maroons and Broncos this season.
NRL.com's Andy Bryan: "Wayne Bennett delivered an early message to the former Broncos captain by dropping Thaiday to the bench. Thaiday responded with career-best form taking on all comers in the middle of the field and helping lead the Broncos to second place on the ladder. Thaiday's ability to get through tackles and land on his stomach to enable quick play-the-balls often goes missed by the general public, but not by his teammates and coaching staff."
25. George Burgess (22) – Not quite the wrecking ball he was last season for Souths, George Burgess remains one of the hardest big men to stop in the game. In a "quiet" year he still managed 67 tackle breaks (fifth among forwards) plus 138 metres and 32 tackles a match, playing every game of the season.
NRL.com's Chris Kennedy: "George Burgess may not have reached the heights we are used to in 2015 but on his day can still be one of the most damaging ball-running props in the NRL".
24. Issac Luke (New entry) – Souths will miss the nuggety No.9 next season, with the Warriors-bound Luke ranking first among hookers for dummy-half runs and second for tackle breaks this year.
Tony Webeck: "The fulcrum upon which much of the South Sydney attack revolves, Luke's absence through injury and suspension throughout 2015 has significantly hampered the Rabbitohs' premiership defence. The most prolific dummy-half runner in the competition, Luke can be guilty of over-playing his hand but when he's in the mood the rest of the team follows. Bound for the Warriors next season, his combination with Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be lethal."
23. Jamie Lyon (20) – Age is yet to weary the Manly skipper, whose sensational individual form in the back half of the season almost carried the Sea Eagles into the finals after a horror start to the campaign.
Andy Bryan: "Lyon has been the premier centre in the game since Greg Inglis's move from the centres to fullback in 2012, and the Sea Eagles captain's importance to Manly cannot be overstated. Whether he is beating his man with an in and away, or physically holding off defenders and flick passing to his outside man, Lyon is a constant threat in attack while also having textbook defensive technique. His form at the end of 2015 showed he is still one of the game's best."
22. Brett Morris (24) – The NSW and Australian Test winger made a smooth transition to fullback at his new club the Bulldogs this season, thriving when given the chance to run in broken play and scoring more than a try every two games.
Jack Brady: "Sure he may have missed a fair chunk of the year with a hamstring injury but the fact reformed winger B-Moz has made the move to a new club and made a fist of fullback speaks volumes about how great a player he truly is."
21. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (New entry) – Few starting front-rowers can be relied on to make more than 10 metres from each hit-up, but that's what the Roosters get out of their man mountain prop – who was at his brutal best in rampaging to a brilliant try against the Eels in Round 23.
Chris Kennedy: "Waerea-Hargreaves found a vintage vein of form late in the season where a series of devastating performances saw many label him the form prop of the NRL. His solo try against Parramatta and bell-ringer of a chase and hit on Kurt Gidley to force a drop out will both make the end of season highlight reels."
This article first appeared on NRL.com