After four days and a mammoth countdown from 50-11, Ben Long reveals the all-important top 10 of his list ranking the best 50 current Super League players.
10. Aidan Sezer (Huddersfield Giants)
Marquee player Aidan Sezer will be invaluable to Huddersfield this season as he has the ability to give them the creativity they badly lacked at times last year. The former Canberra star showcased his excellent ball distribution during the Giants’ great start to the 2020 campaign and also took on the role of guiding his side around the park. He has a very good long-range kicking game and is a superb organiser, while also physically capable of fronting up in defence. Sezer ranks as one of the best halves in the competition and the hierarchy at Huddersfield have done exceptionally well to land a player of his quality.
9. Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons)
He has his critics, but since Sam Tomkins signed for Catalans he has rediscovered his best form. The former Man of Steel is still one of the best players in Super League and is a full-back with the kicking game, rugby intelligence and ball distribution of a world class half-back. He doesn’t possess the lightning speed he once had, however his anticipation and reading of the game, in both attack and defence, is top-drawer. Tomkins remains an evasive runner and his competitive nature often gives him the edge over opponents, especially in tight games.
8. Lachlan Coote (St Helens)
Replacing reigning Man of Steel Ben Barba was an almost impossible task but Lachlan Coote couldn’t have done much better for Saints in 2019. A typical NRL full-back, the former Cowboys no.1 possesses an astute kicking game, has very good hands and is an excellent support player. Like all good full-backs he is generally very solid in the air, while his game-management and control from the back gives him an added edge. Coote’s professionalism and know-how played a big part in St Helens losing only four matches in the whole of last year, with his absence in the early rounds of this season all too evident.
7. Luke Thompson (St Helens)
The notoriously relentless and rampaging Luke Thompson is the best forward in Super League at present, with his move to the NRL not surprising given his class. The England international has a devastating combination of power and pace, while his incredible engine, aggression and competitiveness makes him almost impossible when in full flow. Thompson is also a solid defender that just keeps going and his consistency will help him become a huge success down under.
6. Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves)
Blake Austin is a tremendous running half-back with the pace, physicality and agility to trouble any defence on his day. With superb rugby intelligence and anticipation, the former NRL star took Super League by storm in his first season and would perhaps have won the Man of Steel award but for injury. He is at his best when taking on the defensive line, with an outrageous dummy and towering high kick also in the locker of this maverick player. Austin is a very confident and authoritative individual whose style suits Super League down to the ground.
5. James Maloney (Catalans Dragons)
Former New South Wales and Australia half-back James Maloney remains one of the best organisers in the world and is an expert at guiding his team around the park. He also provides very clinical execution in kicking and passing, with his leadership and communication giving any side he is in a chance of victory. It’s no fluke this man, at 33, was guiding the Blues to a State of Origin series win less than a year ago and his signing could help Catalans compete with the very best in Super League. The Dragons have been a team lacking concentration, intensity and consistency for years; Maloney will most likely change that attitude and make them contenders.
4. Bevan French (Wigan Warriors)
Bevan French is the ultimate box-office player in Super League and incredible to watch in full flow. An aesthetically-pleasing player to watch, he has so much in his locker and the style of the English game suits his all-action play. Outrageous dummies, scorching acceleration and pace, brilliant feet and an eye for a pass, the former Parramatta speedster has that something special. Capable of bursting through the smallest of gaps and with the ball-playing skills to unlock any defence, French doesn’t lack any self-belief and if he can maintain his early-season form, who knows what he could achieve with the Warriors.
3. Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
It is unbelievable at times just how much Daryl Clark does for his team. From hard-hitting, tireless defence to pressure-relieving dummy-half running, Warrington have a genuine world class hooker on their hands. The 27-year-old’s distribution is consistently very good with his speed, strength and agility allowing him to make breaks and create tries. Also a master of scooting his way over the try-line, Clark is the quickest thinking and quickest running no.9 in the competition and showed his class in last year’s Challenge Cup Final, winning the Lance Toss trophy after a faultless performance.
2. Jackson Hastings (Wigan Warriors)
Reigning Man of Steel Jackson Hastings is an outstanding player with all the improvisation, vision and skill of a world class half-back. His achievements at Salford last year were exceptional with his input taking the Red Devils from the bottom of Super League all the way to the Grand Final. Wigan have an exceptional talent on their hands this season and the former NRL star has already shown some glimpses of his class in the opening rounds of the season. Hastings’ has superb awareness of the game, is naturally good at beating players and defensively is very strong too. He should thrive in the remainder of his time with the Warriors and will surely win some silverware in the near future.
1. Jonny Lomax (St Helens)
Jonny Lomax has developed into an extraordinary player and is currently the best in Super League. His pass selection, timing at the line and improvisation skills are outstanding and he is one of the main reasons behind St Helens’ dominance in 2019. After recovering from a number of long-term injuries earlier in his career, the England international is now the most consistent half-back in Super League with his running game, creativity and defensive work rate at an all-time high. Lomax clearly has a good attitude given what he has overcome and it’s that resilience that makes him such a consistent and relentless player. He has maximised every ounce of ability he possesses and is currently at the peak of his career.