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Top 5 NRL players of the 2021 season

The 2021 NRL season brought all the thrills and spills we have become accustomed to in the world’s most competitive rugby league competition.

It was one of the most closely contested seasons for a number of years with the top three teams only separated by three points, with the minor Premiership winners Melbourne Storm incredibly unable to make it through to the grand final.

We also saw the best players on the planet showcase their incredible skills once more in a season that ended with Penrith Panthers edging out South Sydney Rabbitohs in a superb finale, a game that had sports fans flocking to casumo sports betting to have their say on who would win the season’s showpiece event.

The Panthers ended their drought for an NRL crown led by Nathan Cleary, a man who features in this article as we rank the top five players from the 2021 season.

Featuring four more of the game’s best, here is who we rank as 2021’s top five NRL players, starting at number five and working our way up to number one.

5. Daly Cherry-Evans

The Manly skipper was unsurprisingly excellent for much of the season and will have been disappointed not to lead his team to the grand final. The Sea Eagles demolition of the Roosters in the preliminary semi-final saw Cherry-Evans at his best and has his adoring fans dreaming of premiership glory. But the Rabbitohs dealt with them in the semi-final much to their disappointment. On the whole though it was a solid season for Manly, who without DCE would have got nowhere near fourth place and 80 minutes away from the biggest game of the season.

4. James Tedesco

Consistently the NRL’s best player for the last five years, Tedesco showed his best throughout 2021 despite the shortcomings of his team. Having become used to battling it out at the very summit of the NRL ladder, it was a different season for the Roosters who finished fifth. Their dismantling by Manly in the preliminary semi-final was not a reflection on Tedesco though, with the Kangaroos’ full-back superb through much of the season. His speed, skill and game-awareness was all on point still despite him hitting the latter end of his twenties.

3. Cody Walker

Souths came within two points of NRL glory this season and much of that was down to their playmaker Cody Walker. The dazzling half-back was for far too long one of the game’s biggest undiscovered talents but since hitting the NRL scene in 2016 he has been exceptional. And this year was arguably his finest season yet as he consistently produced moments of brilliance, producing excellent passing, kicking and footwork each week to cause no end of problems to opposition teams.

2. Tom Trbojevic

The man nicknamed ‘Tommy Turbo’ went to a whole new level in 2021. Already regarded as one of the game’s best backs, the Manly flyer probably became the best in the sport at several points this year. His electrifying pace and reading of the game makes him unplayable at times and he was well deserving of the Dally M Medal as the best player in the game. Unfortunately though, Manly’s shortcomings in the finals has him second in our list but take nothing away from Trbojevic, he is a special player and will likely win an NRL title before the end of his career.

1. Nathan Cleary

The man we rank as number one in 2021 is Penrith’s talisman Nathan Cleary. He was the mastermind behind the Panthers NRL title win and the reason they have been the competition’s most consistent team for the last two years. Named man of the match in the grand final, Cleary has proved he can produce consistently and when it matters, making him the game’s top player at this moment. He has the vision, skill and knowhow to take control of any game and with 120 games already under his belt at the age of 23, he has the potential to become one of the sport’s greatest ever players.

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