Club News 2022

Bencher

NRL 2022: Every club’s halfback, five-eighth and development playmakers rated​

While some NRL clubs are spoiled for choice with playmaking depth others are severely lacking. Find out where your team ranks and the young guns to watch.

A special investigation into the playmaking stocks at every club has revealed only the Warriors and Titans are in a worse position than the club that produced Andrew and Matthew Johns.
Even the Dolphins, who have had just over a year to assemble their squad, rated higher than the Knights in News Corp’s special report on playmakers.
At the other end of the scale is the Panthers, who have taken out top spot even after they lost rugby league’s next big thing to a Redcliffe raid.

1. PANTHERS

Halfback: Nathan Cleary

The best halfback in the NRL. Enough said.
Rating: 10
Five-eighth: Jarome Luai
Still has a lot to prove despite his status as NSW’s No. 1 five-eighth. While his talent is undeniable, Luai has had the luxury of playing alongside Cleary. It’s difficult to truly rate the cheeky No. 6 given the quality of his team.
Rating: 8.5
Back-up: Jaeman Salmon, Sean O’Sullivan
Proven back-up. Both have done the job when either Cleary or Luai have been missing – but the Panthers will have to find a replacement for Redcliffe-bound O’Sullivan.
Rating: 8
Development: Jack Cole, Jett Cleary
Having lost Isyah Katoa to the Dolphins, the Panthers next best prospect is Jack Cole. The Jersey Flegg player was selected for NSW this year in the Under 19s. The Panthers have earmarked him for the NRL.
Rating: 4
TOTAL: 30.5/40

2. BRONCOS

Halfback: Adam Reynolds
A premiership-winning No. 7 with arguably the best kicking game in the NRL, Reynolds is an undisputed playmaking marquee. At 32, age is the only negative when it comes to the 232-game veteran.
Rating: 9
Five-eighth: Ezra Mam
A player who has been in the Broncos pathways system since he was 13, Mam has shown himself to be a playmaker of the future since making his debut last season. Mam has an electric running game and is not lacking in confidence.
Rating: 6
Back-up: Billy Waters, Albert Kelly, Te Maire Martin
A strong back-up spine who have all performed well when called into the top team
Rating: 6
Development: Karl Oloapu, Coby Black, Lykhan King-Togia, Marley McLaren
Oloapu and Black are among the best young playmakers in the country. Olpaua is considered a Benji Marshall type talent while Black is an all-rounder with silky skills. Having the biggest catchment area in rugby league means the Broncos have no shortage of halves in the making.
Rating: 9
TOTAL: 30/40

3. STORM

Halfback: Jahrome Hughes
The Kiwi test No. 7 has quietly turned himself into one of the game’s best playmakers.
Rating: 8
Five-eighth: Cameron Munster
Munster has found the maturity to match his brilliance.
Rating: 10
Back-up: Cooper Johns, Tyran Wishart
The Storm’s depth has been tested in a big way this year.
Rating: 4
Development: Jonah Pezet
A Gosford product who is now a top-30 contracted player with the Storm, Pezet showed himself to be a star of the making with Under 19s man of the match performance for NSW earlier this year.
Rating: 7
TOTAL: 29/40

4. ROOSTERS

Halfback: Sam Walker
Still eligible for Jersey Flegg next year, the sky is the limit for Walker. Freshly turned 20, the son of a gun has only shown glimpses of the player he is destined to become.
Rating: 7.5
Five-eighth: Luke Keary
A Clive Churchill medal winner and one of the game’s elite playmakers, head knocks and his age are the only concern.
Rating: 8.5
Back-up: Adam Keighran, Drew Hutchison, Sandon Smith
The Roosters could make a surprise playmaking move by blooding Sandon Smith during the run to the finals.
Rating: 4
Development: Cassius Tia, Toby Rodwell, Lachlan Dooner, Sandon Smith
Tia has been earmarked for a top 30 spot and Smith has already been added to this year’s squad. The Roosters also have Toby Rodwell, who is regarded as one of the best schoolboy halves going around.
Rating: 8
TOTAL: 28/40

5. SHARKS

Halfback: Nicho Hynes
One of the few players that has improved after leaving Melbourne. Hynes has been the Sharks ace this year.
Rating: 8
Five-eighth: Matt Moylan
Enjoying a resurgence under Craig Fitzgibbon. Thought to be in the twilight of his career, Moylan has bounced back to become a vital part of the Sharks premiership tilt.
Rating: 6
Back-up: Braydon Trindall, Connor Tracey
One of the few clubs who have a number of good options at No.7. Trindall showed himself to be well and truly up to the job when he got his chance against the Dragons last week.
Rating: 6.5
Development: Lachlan Miller, Luke Metcalf, Ryan Rivet
Ryan Rivet was a standout in the Jersey Flegg competition and is rated highly by both the Sharks and their NRL rivals. Recruited from the Burleigh Bears in 2021, Rivett headlines a healthy list of generation next playmakers in the Cronulla system.
Rating: 7
TOTAL: 27.5/40

6. EELS

Halfback: Mitchell Moses
Few would argue that Moses is now a marquee No.7. Always a game breaker, he has developed his game management and leadership skills. The only question mark over Moses is his ability to deliver when it counts.
Rating: 8
Five-eighth: Dylan Brown
Brown has developed into a quality five-eighth and has formed a potent combination with Moses.
Rating: 7
Back-up: Hayze Perham, Jake Arthur
Losing either Moses or Brown would almost certainly take the Eels out of premiership contention.
Rating: 6
Development: Blaize Talagai, Alex Isdale, Ethan Sanders, Mac Puafisi
The Eels have some young stars in their ranks. While still years away from the NRL, Talagai and Isdale have been standouts in their age groups. They have been linked to Palm beach Currumbin teenager Josh Lynn.
Rating: 6
TOTAL: 27/40

7. COWBOYS

Halfback: Chad Townsend
A premiership winner with a complete playmaking game. Townsend’s control and direction have helped turn the Cowboys into a premiership force.
Rating: 8
Five-eighth: Tom Dearden
A Broncos discard, Dearden has found his feet at the Cowboys and has become more than a running No.6.
Rating: 7
Back-up: Ben Hampton
The Cowboys are a little skinny when it comes to depth but have the luxury of being able to play Scott Drinkwater at No.6.
Rating: 4
Development: Jake Bourke, Thomas Duffy, Reece Foley
Duffy is an excellent prospect and is considered a future NRL half. He has excelled at every level of the game. Bourke is also highly rated.
Rating: 7.5
TOTAL: 26.5/40

8. RAIDERS

Halfback: Jamal Fogarty
Had a tough time at the Titans but seems to be finding his feet at the Raiders. He will be much improved after a Canberra pre-season.
Rating: 5
Five-eighth: Jack Wighton
The prototype for the modern five-eighth, Wighton is every bit as destructive as anything on the edge. While his running game is his undisputed strength, Wighton has worked hard on his kick/pass to become the complete playmaker he is today.
Rating: 9
Back-up: Matt Frawley, Brad Schneider
Schneider is rated highly but it’s still early days for the Canberra playmaker.
Rating: 5
Development: Brad Schneider, Ethan Strange, Blake Metcalf, Noah Ryan
Ethan Strange is considered a future star while young Metcalf has shown plenty of potential. Schneider also looks the goods.
Rating: 7
TOTAL: 26/40

9. RABBITOHS

Halfback: Lachlan Ilias
The playmaker anointed as Adam Reynolds’ replacement, Ilias is improving with every game. He has shown plenty of character since he was hooked from the field during a Dragons debacle earlier this year.
Rating: 5.5
Five-eighth: Cody Walker
Walker has struggled with the added responsibility since Reynold’s departure but is still a game-breaker.
Rating: 7.5
Back-up: Blake Taaffe, Dean Hawkins, Kodi Nikorima
The Rabbitohs have options but losing Walker would cost them their premiership dream. Hawkins has been a standout for them in the NSW Cup.
Rating: 6
Development: Matt Humphries, Jye Gray, Zane Rugless, Jack Campagnolo
Snuck under the guard of the Broncos to pinch the highly rated Jye Gray. Unlucky to miss out on Australian Schoolboy’s selection, Gray is flying five-eighth who can also play fullback. The Rabbitohs also have Zane Rugless and Jack Campagnolo on their play making production line.
Rating: 6
TOTAL: 25/40

10. SEA EAGLES

Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans
Already a premiership winner who has performed at every level of the game, Cherry-Evans took his game to yet another level by leading Queensland to their shock State of Origin series win over NSW. And while he is 33, Cherry-Evans is planning on playing for at least three more years.
Rating: 9.5
Five-eighth: Kieran Foran
Thought to be washed up after his injury riddle ride with the Bulldogs, Foran has once again become Cherry-Evan’s perfect partner. While he has lost some pace and punch, Foran is as tenacious as ever.
Rating: 6.5
Back-up: Josh Schuster, Dylan Walker
Schuster deputised for Cherry-Evans in the only match he missed this year.
Rating: 3
Development: Latu Finau, Jamie Humphries
A powerhouse five-eighth who could end up in the middle, Finau is on a fast track to the NRL. Manly signed the teen sensation on a record contending deal that was reported to be with $1.3m over three years when he was just 16.
Rating: 5
TOTAL: 24/40

Daly Cherry-Evans has had another strong season. Picture: NRL Photos/Brett Costello

=11. DRAGONS

Halfback: Ben Hunt
Arguably the form halfback in the competition and almost certainly the most tenacious, Hunt is worth every cent that the Dragons are paying him.
Rating: 9
Five-eighth: Talatau Amone
Still early days for Amone but he has shown enough to suggest he has a bright future. The Dragons last week extended his deal until the end of 2023.
Rating: 5.5
Back-up: Jayden Sullivan, Jack Bird, Moses Mbye
The Dragons have a host of players who can slot into the halves.
Rating: 8
Development: The Dragons have not recruited any halves and their best young half – Toby Rodwell – now plays for the Roosters. The Dragons are focusing on other positions given the age of Sullivan and Amone.
Rating: 1
TOTAL: 23.5/40
Ben Hunt has been the Dragons’ best player this season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Ben Hunt has been the Dragons’ best player this season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

=11. WESTS TIGERS

Halfback: Luke Brooks
There is a little doubt that the drama in Tiger town has hurt him, but Brooks still knows how to play. The Knights are banking on it…
Rating: 7
Five-eighth: Jackson Hastings
Difficult to rate given he was switched to lock prior to his injury. He was certainly the pick of the playmakers under Michael Maguire.
Rating: 7
Back-up: Adam Doueihi, Jock Madden, Fa’amanu Brown
Doueihi has slotted in at five-eighth after returning from injury, forcing Hastings to lock. Madden could develop into an NRL No. 6 – but he still has some work to do.
Rating: 4
Development: Zane Camroy, Alex Conti, Onitonio Large
The Tigers have a number of exciting playmaking prospects coming through their pathways program. Headed by Camroy, the club also has Large – the 15-year-old sensation that announced himself as generation next star earlier this year at the Australian schoolboys.
Rating: 5.5
TOTAL: 23.5/40
Luke Brooks has had another tough season at the Tigers. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Luke Brooks has had another tough season at the Tigers. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

13. BULLDOGS

Halfback: Kyle Flanagan
The much-maligned son of Shane Flanagan, Kyle has been much improved under interim coach Mick Potter. Benched earlier in the year, Flanagan is looking more like the player that was once tipped to succeed Cooper Cronk at the Roosters.
Rating: 5
Five-eighth: Matt Burton
Still finding his feet as a No. 6, Burton has already shown enough to validate his switch from the centres. Burton has already been compared to Brad Fittler and has the size, the speed, and of course the boot, to become one of the game’s great five-eighths.
Rating: 8.5
Back-up: Bailey Biondi-Odo, Brandon Wakeham, Zach Dockar-Clay, Jake Averillo
The Bulldogs have plenty of options at No. 6 but do not have a dominant half waiting in the wings.
Rating: 4
Development: Joseph O’Neil, Bayley Haywood, Mitchell Woods, Joash Papalii, Khaled Rajab, Maraki Aumua
The Bulldogs search for a long-term No. 7 looks like it will continue. Canterbury has some work to do on the development front. Phil Gould is attempting to replicate what he did at Penrith.
Rating: 5
TOTAL: 22.5/40
Kyle Flanagan has improved under the guidance of interim coach Mick Potter. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Kyle Flanagan has improved under the guidance of interim coach Mick Potter. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

14. DOLPHINS

Halfback: Sean O’Sullivan
Difficult to rate given he has been Nathan Cleary’s understudy at the Panthers. He will certainly be better for the experience.
Rating: 6
Five-eighth: Anthony Milford
Will be hoping to return to his brilliant best following a full pre-season with his new club.
Rating: 6
Back-up: Kodi Nikorima
The Dolphins are still in the market for halves. They are out to sign a running five-eighth and cash won’t be a problem.
Rating: 1
Development: Kody Hunter, Isaiya Katoa, Carter Welfare
Rating
: 7
TOTAL: 20/40
Sean O’Sullivan will be halfback in the Dolphins’ inaugural season. Picture: NRL Photos

Sean O’Sullivan will be halfback in the Dolphins’ inaugural season. Picture: NRL Photos

=15. KNIGHTS

Halfback: Adam Clune
Has been in and out of the NRL since the Knights bought both him and Jake Clifford as emergency replacements for Mitchell Pearce.
Rating: 5
Five-eighth: Anthony Milford
A mid-season buy, Milford is doing his best but will depart at the end of the season to play with the Dolphins.
Rating: 6
Back-up: Jake Clifford, Kurt Mann, Phoenix Crossland, Tex Hoy
The Knights have a number of options – but none have worked.
Rating: 5
Development: Liam Sutton
The Knights are in hard for both Luke Brooks and Cowboys up-and-comer Reece Folley, which would suggest they have nothing NRL ready in development.
Rating: 2
TOTAL: 18/40
Adam Clune has struggled to nail down the halfback role at the Knights. Picture: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Adam Clune has struggled to nail down the halfback role at the Knights. Picture: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

=15. TITANS

Halfback: Tanah Boyd
A rookie in every sense of the word, Boyd is facing an initiation of fire.
Rating: 4
Five-eighth: Alexander Brimson
An attacking player who has made a fist out of No.6. Many think his best position is fullback.
Rating: 6
Back-up: Toby Sexton, Paul Turner
Plenty of options – but none have worked.
Rating: 4
Development: Thomas Weaver, Shallin Fuller
The Titans have a huge nursery but have struggled to compete with the Broncos and the Dolphins when it comes to second tier recruitment and retention.
Rating: 4
TOTAL: 18/40
Toby Sexton has fallen down the pecking order at the Titans. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Toby Sexton has fallen down the pecking order at the Titans. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

17. WARRIORS

Halfback: Shaun Johnson
In the twilight of his career, Johnson has struggled since returning to New Zealand.
Rating: 6
Five-eighth: Chanel Harris-Tavita
Having never reached his full potential, Harris-Tavita is retiring at the end of the year.
Rating: 5
Back-up: Daejarn Asi
A career-ending injury to Ash Taylor has exposed a serious lack of depth in the halves.
Rating: 1
Development: Ronald Volkman
The departure of recruitment guru Peter O’Sullivan to the Dolphins, coupled with the Covid crisis, has hurt the Warriors when it comes to development. It may prove to be the club’s biggest issue going forward.

More Coverage​

Market Watch: Panthers target new Cleary understudyKent: Tough reality behind the blood, sweat and tears
Rating: 2
TOTAL: 14/40
mmm...Evans 9.5..and Foran 6.5!! who makes up these ratings ?.
 
Journey Man
Sad that with so many legends leaving us, we are by far the worst team in the entire league at the moment.

I don't see us going anywhere NEAR any other club performance wise on (actually or OFF) the field ATM.

I can't even see one crumb of light at the end of the tunnel here. 2023 is legit the year we'll get our first wooden spoon . 0 recruitment, despite a raft of players leaving too, and all our junior teams being complete arse.
 
Journey Man
Anything you’re not happy about Doomchild?

Try telling me some things footy wise TO be happy about smart-arse, when it comes to our club right now ?

If your value add is to just make smart-alec comments about people's opinions on the actual footy, that's a pretty sad indicator of you Zarkid
 
Let’s all have a chew!
Sad that with so many legends leaving us, we are by far the worst team in the entire league at the moment.

I don't see us going anywhere NEAR any other club performance wise on (actually or OFF) the field ATM.

I can't even see one crumb of light at the end of the tunnel here. 2023 is legit the year we'll get our first wooden spoon . 0 recruitment, despite a raft of players leaving too, and all our junior teams being complete arse.
I still think we’d beat Newcastle. The more I’ve started to analyze the last horrid month the one glaring change that should have been made was moving the clearly injured Garrick back to the wing. And moving Weekes or Koula to fb.
 
Bencher
Our ball play and structure only ever looks good with walker on the park.

I will misss him, I cannot believe our cap is so stuffed that we are losing Foran, tapau and walker and can’t afford anyone of note.

It’s not like our much vaunted rookies are performing so well they need immediate and massive upgrades
 
Enthusiastic Amateur
Sad that with so many legends leaving us, we are by far the worst team in the entire league at the moment.

I don't see us going anywhere NEAR any other club performance wise on (actually or OFF) the field ATM.

I can't even see one crumb of light at the end of the tunnel here. 2023 is legit the year we'll get our first wooden spoon . 0 recruitment, despite a raft of players leaving too, and all our junior teams being complete arse.
Mate if we get the spoon in 2023 I will promise to be your forum groupie. I will even change my profile name to the Servant of the Merchant of Doom. :) It’s not going to happen… not even close. I expect the team to make the 8 our season will be defined on how we get there. Either by being a consistent good footy team or by just scraping across the line ( another year of mediocrity.) in short there is no way we are coming last… we have still too much talent in the team both within and emerging. Also look out for some astute buys in the off season….
 
Bencher
Our ball play and structure only ever looks good with walker on the park.

I will misss him, I cannot believe our cap is so stuffed that we are losing Foran, tapau and walker and can’t afford anyone of note.

It’s not like our much vaunted rookies are performing so well they need immediate and massive upgrades
How do we know “our cap is so stuffed”?Maybe the club has said that we’re not winning a comp with these blokes now so why not make a change?Foran has been good but he won’t get better and I’m on the fence about Walker’s impact because they’re not beating anyone at the moment let alone the top sides.Now those blokes are not the sole reason for the poor performances but something has to give and I’d rather move in another direction than spend more money on these players that we haven’t won anything with
 
In for the long haul.
Premium Member
2016 Tipping Competitor
I expect the team to make the 8 our season will be defined on how we get there.
Make the 8? Whoopee! A pass. Yay!!!
That's the problem. We spend most seasons of late just hoping to make the 8, then out in straight sets. The Manly of old set our sights much higher. Penn isn't wrong when he says Top 4 is where we always need to be.
We have become an Also Ran hoping to be a Middle of the Road.
 
Bencher
How do we know “our cap is so stuffed”?Maybe the club has said that we’re not winning a comp with these blokes now so why not make a change?Foran has been good but he won’t get better and I’m on the fence about Walker’s impact because they’re not beating anyone at the moment let alone the top sides.Now those blokes are not the sole reason for the poor performances but something has to give and I’d rather move in another direction than spend more money on these players that we haven’t won anything with

Outside of Tom,Jake and DCE the only other player we paid big $$ for is Aloiai which is prolly around 600k.

Almost all the other players we were paying not so much for and would need upgrades and probably have upgrades.

I guess that is why we have let go AFB, Walker, Marty and lesser degree Foran as could not afford to upgrade his highly TPP salary.

We would be bitching if we let Haumole, Schuster, Garrick, Saab, Paseka, Saab etc go to other clubs.

I just hope these guys step up big time in the next 2 years.
 
Enthusiastic Amateur
Make the 8? Whoopee! A pass. Yay!!!
That's the problem. We spend most seasons of late just hoping to make the 8, then out in straight sets. The Manly of old set our sights much higher. Penn isn't wrong when he says Top 4 is where we always need to be.
We have become an Also Ran hoping to be a Middle of the Road.
Fair enough that’s a really good point but the context of my post was a response in contrast to someone who thinks we will Likely come dead last. If things go our way with injuries and with not being the focus of the media for the wrong reasons … I think we can make the top 4 for sure and compete at the highest level….
 

Staff online

Team P W L PD Pts
24 20 4 306 42
24 18 6 209 38
24 17 7 272 36
24 16 8 119 34
24 15 9 247 32
24 15 9 201 32
24 14 10 130 30
24 14 10 63 30
24 13 11 -36 28
24 12 12 -100 26
24 9 15 -105 20
24 7 17 -192 16
24 6 18 -205 14
24 6 18 -290 14
24 6 18 -292 14
24 4 20 -327 10
Top Bottom