30. Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos)
Former Man of Steel Luke Gale has been written off by many and is out to prove a point in 2020 following his move from Castleford to Leeds. His Achilles rupture during the back end of his successful stint at the Jungle led many to doubt whether he could return to top form, however the Leeds-born half-back has made a solid start to life back at his hometown club. Gale still possesses an accurate long-range cut-out pass and has a dominant kicking game. Defensively he has improved throughout his Super League career and if he manages to stay fit, then he will prove a very useful acquisition for the Rhinos.
29. Manu Ma’u (Hull FC)
The notoriously destructive and aggressive Manu Ma’u is one of the hardest-hitting forwards in the game and will turn into the enforcer of the Hull FC pack if he finds form in 2020. The former Parramatta star has some serious pedigree and the Old Faithful will be hoping he can convert his impressive attributes into big performances once games are back up and running. Ma’u could become a cult figure on the west side of Hull as he has the durability and physicality to produce highly effective carries and punishing defence, resulting in his nickname as the ‘Tongan Terminator’.
28. Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils)
Niall Evalds is as safe as houses dealing with kicks, a solid one-on-one tackler and a serial try-scorer. He is a reliable and consistent performer for the Red Devils, with a never-say-die attitude, and has coped with the weight of expectation superbly as his reputation has continued to grow. Last season saw him pipped at the post to be Super League’s top try-scorer as the winger thrived in a Salford team that reached the Grand Final. Despite the Devils losing a number of key players, Evalds hasn’t let his performances drop and is set for another big season.
27. Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors)
An athletic, ambitious and exciting player, Oliver Gildart has come on leaps and bounds over the last two years and has proven he is international class. The speedster constantly looks to get on the outside of his opposite number and is capable of applying his quick-thinking and pace at the expense of some of the best centres in the world. A genuine strike-player that can change the momentum of a game, Gildart’s defensive contact and all-round physicality have also improved considerably since the start of last season. The England international is among Wigan’s most dangerous strike weapons and may attract NRL interest in the coming years.
26. Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Liam Farrell has been among Wigan’s most consistent and reliable players for a number of seasons now, offering a lot in both attack and defence. Capable of running direct lines, cutting back on the inside and producing exquisite cut-out passes, the tireless back-rower has the pace of an outside back and toughness of a prop. Farrell’s stamina is another major strength and he will, more often than not, play the full 80 minutes for his team. He has become one of the most consistent players in the business and his return to the England squad is long overdue.
25. Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)
Liam Watts has been one of the most aggressive and dynamic front-rowers in the competition since his days at Hull FC. Since joining hometown club Castleford, he has managed to channel his aggression into dominant performances and last year was, by some distance, the finest of his career. The number of effective carries and tackles per game were far beyond the average for a player in his position and that’s not even mentioning his very dangerous offloading game. Watts’ mobility and engine set him apart from most props in the competition and he is now one of Super League’s main enforcers.
24. Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)
Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone is an immense talent that has endured some horrid luck with injuries. He is a supernaturally athletic freak of nature that has produced some of the all-time great Super League tires, but he is much more than just an acrobatic finisher. He has that ability of beating good defenders easily and can make breaks out of nothing. He is also an aggressive ball-carrier coming away from his own line, is very good in the air and always capable of scoring tries from long range. Johnstone is among Super League’s most exciting and devastating wingers and will surely represent England again should he stay fit.
23. Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)
Former Leeds hooker Paul McShane is a terrific team player and has worked hard to reach his current level. After struggling to break in at the Rhinos and settle in at any club, Daryl Powell gave the crafty no.9 the break he needed and he has probably been the Tigers most consistent player for some time now. He has some real guile around the ruck and can supply accurate distribution throughout a match. His defensive work rate is impressive and he consistently hits above his weight. McShane is an influential player for Castleford and was finally rewarded with a call-up to Shaun Wane’s first England squad last month.
22. Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves)
Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford is an influential player with a good rugby mindset. Both mentally and technically good, the agile full-back has a brilliant pass in his locker and is a superb defensive organiser. The ex-Salford man is also a terrific support player that can read the game better than most and although he doesn’t quite have the pace he once had, his consistent error-free game means he will always find a way into the team. Ratchford hasn’t quite got the headlines of some other Super League no.1’s down the years, but he is still an excellent rugby league player.
21. Mahe Fonua (Hull FC)
The ability Mahe Fonua possesses is truly daunting for the opposition when he is at his best. The Tongan international is a game-changer with a great leap and devastating tackle-breaking ability, especially close to the line. He is one of the best at powering over in the corner under immense pressure, while he also uses his strength to make big yards carrying the ball away from his own line. Fonua’s return to Hull ahead of this season was greeted with jubilation from the Old Faithful, which is not surprising given how successful his previous spell was, playing a huge part in the Black & Whites’ back-to-back Challenge Cup triumphs in 2016 and 2017.
Tomorrow: Players 20-11