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Experts' View: Team of the Year

Over 25 rounds and then two weeks of finals action, a select group of players have emerged as the best of 2021.

As this week's Experts' View shows, some positions were pretty-much and cut and dried while others were filled with worthy recipients of Team of the Year nominations.

The emergence of the likes of Jason Saab and the stellar campaigns of aging warhorses such as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves means both young and not-so-young have been honoured.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of players who are still involved in the Telstra Premiership finals have won over voters.

Experts' view - Team of the Year

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To'o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Angus Crichton
12. David Fifita
13. Cameron Murray

Strike power everywhere in this team. Despite his doubters, David Fifita deserves a spot due to his ability to cause havoc when he has the ball in his hands in attacking positions.

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Brett Kimmorley (former Test halfback)

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To'o
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Christian Welch
9. Damien Cook
10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Cameron Murray
13. Isaah Yeo

The hardest positions were picking two props and two back-rowers. Plenty have been good this year. The backs were pretty easy to pick.

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Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To'o
3. Justin Olam
4. Joseph Manu
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Kenny Bromwich
12. Viliame Kikau
13. Isaah Yeo

Justin Olam impresses for Melbourne every week and Isaah Yeo plays an extremely important role for the Panthers. Kenny Bromwich is deserving of this recognition.

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers legend)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Justin Olam
4. Joseph Manu
5. Alex Johnston
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Isaiah Papali'i
12. Cameron Murray
13. Isaah Yeo

It is tough to leave Tedesco out of any team but with the way Tom Trbojevic guided Manly into the top four he just had to be there.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Alex Johnston 
3. Dane Gagai
4. Joseph Manu 
5. Brian To’o 
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Brandon Smith 
10. Junior Paulo
11. Angus Crichton 
12. David Fifita
13. Cameron Murray 

The hardest position by far was fullback with so many potential options including James Tedesco and Kalyn Ponga. I have picked Turbo Tom because he has been the most dominant player in the competition this year. 

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Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To’o
3. Justin Olam
4. Joey Manu
5. Alex Johnston
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. David Fifita
12. Kenny Bromwich
13. Isaah Yeo

Kenny Bromwich is one of the unsung heroes at the Storm and Alex Johnston proves every year what a wonderful finisher he is. Any side would take Haas and Fisher-Harris as the starting props.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor-in-chief)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Joseph Manu
4. Justin Olam
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. David Fifita
13. Isaah Yeo

It was hard to leave out Cameron Munster and James Tedesco as they’ve each had stellar seasons but Tom Trbojevic deserves the fullback jersey and Cody Walker’s left-edge brilliance for Souths can’t be denied.

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Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To’o
3. Joey Manu
4. Justin Olam
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti 
9. Brandon Smith
10. Payne Haas
11. David Fifita
12. Isaiah Papali’i
13. Isaah Yeo

There are plenty of options for each position but the other wing spot threw me. Garrick has had a remarkable year and edges out Josh Addo-Carr, Alex Johnston and Jason Saab given his work rate to go with his tries and points scored.

Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Justin Olam
4. Matt Burton
5. Brian To'o
6. Cameron Munster
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. David Fifita
13. Cameron Murray

There were plenty of good back-rowers but none who demanded selection. The strike power offered by David Fifita helped him overcome a few quiet performances. The finishing brilliance of Jason Saab earns him a spot. 

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To’o
3. Justin Olam
4. Matt Burton
5. Alex Johnston
6. Cody Walker
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. Daniel Saifiti
11. David Fifita
12. Isaiah Papali’i
13. Isaah Yeo 

Payne Haas was a certainty in the front row but deciding between Daniel Saifiti, Junior Paulo, James Fisher-Harris, Tom Burgess, Christian Welch and Marty Tapau as my second prop was the toughest call.

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Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To’o
3. Joey Manu
4. Justin Olam
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Fisher-Harris
9. Brandon Smith
10. Christian Welch
11. Angus Crichton
12. Isaiah Papali’i
13. Isaah Yeo 

Cameron Murray, Jake Trbojevic, Victor Radley and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui were all great this year. Yeo is the link man in the Panthers attack and was instrumental in lifting the Panthers two their second straight top-two finish after the regular season. That's why he gets the nod.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To'o
3. Justin Olam
4. Matt Burton
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Fisher-Harris
9. Brandon Smith
10. Junior Paulo
11. Isaiah Papali'i
12. Keaon Koloamatangi
13. Isaah Yeo

The second wing spot was the toughest to decide upon. Josh Addo-Carr and Alex Johnston have been sublime, but Reuben Garrick's outstanding goal-kicking got him the nod.

NRL Round Up - Finals week two

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Matt Burton
4. Justin Olam
5. Brian To’o
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Fisher-Harris
9. Brandon Smith
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Angus Crichton
13. Isaah Yeo 

The hardest call was leaving out James Tedesco but Turbo simply had to be there. Christian Welch, Payne Haas, Reuben Garrick and Jahrome Hughes were also very hard to leave out.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To’o
3. Joseph Manu
4. Justin Olam
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Cameron Murray
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 

Leaving Keaon Koloamatagi and David Fifita out of the back-row was tough but  Murray and Fa’asuamaleaui were a tad more consistent than the blockbusting edge runners.

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Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Brian To'o
3. Joseph Manu
4. Justin Olam
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Brandon Smith
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Isaiah Papali'i
12. David Fifita
13. Isaah Yeo

David Fifita has his critics and certainly had his share of quiet games, but the fact he remains he's the most dangerous try-scoring forward in the league and deserves selection after 17 tries in 22 games.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Justin Olam
4. Joey Manu
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Adam Reynolds
8. James Fisher-Harris
9. Brandon Smith
10. Christian Welch
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. David Fifita
13. Isaah Yeo

I’ve gone with players that had great seasons, along with proven champions. Adam Reynolds at halfback is a selection based on both; he is a proven champion but has had another great year with plenty going on around him.

 

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