Top five props in the NRL
As we count down to the kick-off of the 2016 Telstra Premiership season, we at NRL.com have our say on the best of the best heading into the new season.
There's a strong international flavour among the top rung of bookends currently found in the NRL.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters)
2015 stats: Metres per game – 122.4; tackles per game – 27.8; offloads – 33; runs – 223
They didn't exactly fall in a heap but the absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves from the Roosters' finals campaign certainly hurt the chances of the minor premiers. Whether butting heads with Sam Thaiday or skittling Eels in Round 23 on a power-packed surge to the tryline that inspired his team to victory, Waerea-Hargreaves gives the Roosters' pack an intimidating presence that was noticeably lacking at finals time.
Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
2015 stats: Metres per game – 163.4; tackles per game – 30; offloads – 22; runs – 325
The wild man of Leichhardt has quickly gone from promising prop to established representative front-rower and even took on captaincy duties in the absence of Robbie Farah in 2015. Still just 24 years of age, Woods will be tasked with leading a young Tigers squad in 2016 and if they simply follow his lead through the middle they will have a bright future.
James Graham (Bulldogs)
2015 stats: Metres per game – 144.7; tackles per game – 32.1; offloads – 3; runs – 318
As a captain who inspires by actions, James Graham's absence early in the season due to suspension hurt the Bulldogs who won once in the month he was missing. A ferocious competitor, Graham's ball skills are as influential as his workrate and the Bulldogs were far less potent when Graham was absent. One of the best English forwards to ever grace the NRL.
Matthew Scott (Cowboys)
2015 stats: Metres per game – 138.3; tackles per game – 28.6; offloads – 16; runs – 325
The scary prospect for opposition big men is that after playing through neck pain that shot down through his arm for much of 2015, Matt Scott is now pain free and set for an even bigger season in 2016. A cornerstone of not only the Cowboys' premiership but Queensland's Origin dominance, Scott set the tone with a powerful opening burst in North Queensland's 39-0 semi-final demolition of the Sharks and backed it up with 202 metres in the Preliminary Final against the Storm. An absolute powerhouse at his peak.
Jesse Bromwich (Storm)
2015 stats: Metres per game – 158.3; tackles per game – 33.7; offloads – 27; runs - 435
One of only three forwards to be named in the top 10 of the NRL's top 50 players in September, Bromwich led all forwards for metres gained in 2015, playing in all 26 games for Melbourne along with the mid-year Test and three-Test series in England. But he is not merely a metre-eater, averaging 34 tackles a game as well as coming up with 27 offloads and four line-breaks! His influence will only grow under a reduced interchange in 2016.