NRL Players to Watch 2018

2018 NRL Players To Watch

Here we delve into the Rugby League players to watch in the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership. What stars of the game will lead their club through a big season? Who will live up to their playing potential?

Check out the NRL footy facts and stats on some of the returning champs of the game and stars of the future below before placing your NRL Premiership bets for 2018.

  • Kalyn Ponga – Newcastle Knights
  • Tyson Frizell – St. George Illawarra Dragons
  • Anthony Milford – Brisbane Broncos
  • Kodi Nikorima – Brisbane Broncos
  • Jason Taumalolo – North Queensland Cowboys
  • Angus Crichton – South Sydney Rabbitohs
  • Cooper Cronk – Sydney Roosters
  • Mitchell Pearce – Newcastle Knights

Kalyn Ponga

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2018 NRL Players to Watch: Kalyn Ponga.

  • NRL Team: Newcastle Knights
  • DOB: 30/03/1998
  • Height: 184cm
  • Weight: 90kg
  • Position/s: Fullback, Five-Eighth, Wing
  • First Grade Debut: For North Queensland Cowboys (16/09/2016)

This 19-year-old debuted for the NQ during 2016-17 and is gearing up for a Newcastle debut in 2018 as the highest paid teenager in NRL history, but can he live up to the hype? The Knights were the Wooden Spooners of last season, but some huge player transfers and the injection of young talent like Ponga has them as a genuine Premiership contender. This kid was pursued by six pro clubs from three different sports before his original Cowboys signing. He made the contract switch to Newcastle before the 2017 season, but that didn’t stop him putting in a stellar year. He was named Man of the Match in Round 8 when the Cowboys ironically defeated Newcastle. He’s definitely a new Knight to watch.

Tyson Frizell

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2018 NRL Players to Watch: Tyson Frizell.

  • NRL Team: St. George Illawarra Dragons
  • DOB: 09/10/1991
  • Height: 183cm
  • Weight: 109kg
  • Position/s: Second-row, Lock, Centre
  • First Grade Debut : For Cronulla Sharks (29/07/2011)

The hulking Frizell (183cm high and 109kg heavy!) is a key back-rower for St. George and is contracted until the end of 2020 for the Red V. He is a tackling machine with a tackle efficiency rate of over 92% making him the man you want defending the line. The Dragons have a backline full of depth with Frizell joined by the likes of Tariq Sims and Jacob Host. He played for Australia in last year’s Rugby League World Cup and was part of the green and gold’s 6-0 win over England in the final. He is going from strength-to-strength and getting the field time he deserves. Frizell is also looking a sure thing to make the New South Wales State of Origin Blues squad under new coach Brad Fittler.

Anthony Milford

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Brisbane Broncos NRL Star Anthony Milford.

  • NRL Team: Brisbane Broncos
  • DOB: 11/07/1994
  • Height: 176cm
  • Weight: 90kg
  • Position/s: Five-eighth, Fullback, Halfback
  • First Grade Debut: For the Canberra Raiders (07/04/2013)

Milford has been with the Broncos since 2015 and he’s signed an extension until the end of 2021. He rejected offers to join the Melbourne Storm, becoming the first “Million Dollar Bronco”. He made his SOO debut for QLD last year with the injured Johnathan Thurston sidelined and was doing plenty right before the concussion. This kid has footwork to rival that of Benji Marshall back in the early days and is just as efficient in defence. A shoulder injury ruled him out of the Rugby League World Cup in 2017, but recovery will have him firing on all cylinders this season. He is joined in the halves by Kodi Nikorima and they can organise some real attacking power. There is more pressure on Milford than ever in 2018 and he’ll have to learn how to talk to the team, manage his squad and prove he’s worth the pay packet.

Kodi Nikorima

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Broncos new No. 7 star Kodi Nikorima.

  • NRL Team: Brisbane Broncos
  • DOB: 03/04/1994
  • Height: 174cm
  • Weight: 82kg
  • Position/s: Halfback, Five-eighth, Hooker, Fullback
  • First Grade Debut: For Brisbane Broncos (13/03/2015)

Kodi Nikorima joins Milford in the Broncos’ halves and all eyes will be on these two young playmakers. Nikorima really got his time in the spotlight last year filling in as halfback for the injured Ben Hunt and he didn’t shy away from the challenge or the pressure. He was part of a five-straight winning streak for the club and scored 4 tries during that time. The 2018 NRL Season is this New Zealand international’s chance to show he is more than just a fill-in for the No. 7. Wayne Bennett has put faith in Nikorima who, if he repays the faith of the master coach, could prove a steal at the price he’s being paid for the position. There are doubters, but from 13 games as halfback last year he was part of 11 victories. Not bad stats at all so don’t judge this 82kg lightweight on his size!

Jason Taumalolo

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North Queensland powerhouse Jason Taumalolo.

  • NRL Team: North Queensland Cowboys
  • DOB: 31/05/1993
  • Height: 191cm
  • Weight: 113kg
  • Position/s: Second-row, Lock
  • First Grade Debut: For North Queensland Cowboys (21/08/2010)

Taumalolo is a huge unit who deserves the huge accolades including the 2016 Dally M Medal and 2017 Cowboys’ Player of the Year for the second year in a row. He played a part in the Cowboys’ 2015 NRL Premiership and last year’s Grand Final loss to the Storm. He just last year signed a new decade long deal with the North Queensland club and despite his size, puts in an effort of a player carrying half his hulk. In the 2017 NRL Season Taumalolo became the first forward in the competition’s history to run over 5000m in a single season. The fans love him, the stats love him and his team loves him. Can he be the team’s best for the third time on the trot?

Angus Crichton

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South Sydney second-rower Angus Crichton.

  • NRL Team: South Sydney Rabbitohs
  • DOB: 05/02/1996
  • Height: 187cm
  • Weight: 102kg
  • Position/s: Second-Row
  • First Grade Debut: For South Sydney Rabbitohs (16/06/2016)

Angus Crichton is one of the rising stars of the NRL getting plenty of attention after a standout 2017 season for the Bunnies. Souths were one of the let-downs of the competition last season, but that didn’t stop Crichton from making a big impact including scoring 7 tries form 22 games played. He is a young try-scoring machine 2018 is his last for the Rabbitohs. Arch rivals the Roosters have snatched this up-and-comer from 2019 for 3 years. Hard work is something this kid thrives on and he’s not shy to make tough calls, like the incredible finger amputation he opted for instead of missing the opening half of the 2018 season! Fittler is also a fan so sniffing the possibility of an appearance for the Blues.

Cooper Cronk

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Sydney Roosters’ new Halfback Cooper Cronk.

  • NRL Team: Sydney Roosters
  • DOB: 05/12/1983
  • Height: 178cm
  • Weight: 88kg
  • Position/s: Halfback
  • First Grade Debut: For Melbourne Storm (08/05/2004)

One of the massive NRL 2018 Player transfers, this former Melbourne star played over 300 games for the Storm and was part of the reigning premiership club’s “spine”. The dual Dally M Medal winner however will see out his career with the Chooks having made the tough call to swap clubs at the end of 2017 for family reasons. He is with the Tri-Colours for two seasons and it caused quite a stir with their former champion Halfback Mitchell Pearce making a move to Knights. Cronk could be the game’s best Halfback and he’ll be out to prove that in Sydney. He brings a wealth of experience including having played in three NRL Grand Finals for two wins, including the last two season deciders winning in 2017 and finishing runner-up to the Sharks in 2016.

Mitchell Pearce

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Mitchell Pearce will play Halfback for the Knights in the 2018 NRL Premiership.

  • NRL Team: Newcastle Knights
  • DOB: 07/04/1989
  • Height: 182cm
  • Weight: 91kg
  • Position/s: Halfback
  • First Grade Debut: For Sydney Roosters (24/03/2007)

Pearce is one of the reason’s why the Newcastle Knights are being tipped as the club to most improve in the NRL after last season’s flop. He moved from his position at the Sydney Roosters after their controversial signing of former Melbourne Halfback Cronk, getting a release from his contract. He is now part of a new-look Newcastle side that is out to show that their Wooden Spoon effort in 2017 was a one off. This is the only other club he’s ever donned a jersey for, the NSW Blues State Of Origin playmaker starting a new ear after a decade for the Chooks. Pearce plays at the Knights for the first time along with a number of his other former Sydney teammates including Aidan Guerra, Connor Watson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Look out.