NRL.com's 2017 Team of the Year
For the past 26 weeks we have rewarded those who have performed feats of greatness with selection in the Team of the Week and now we can anoint those who made the most regular appearances with selection in Team of the Year.
In a year in which the fullbacks and lock forwards seemed to dominate, we awarded two points for selection in the starting team and one point for selection on the four-man bench each week. There were close calls in every position bar one, with the guy about to play more premiership games than anyone else enjoying one of the best seasons of his glittering career, one of only three players from last year's Team of the Year to earn selection again in 2017.
1. Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
Assuming the mantle vacated by the injured Brett Stewart, 'Tommy Turbo' became the Lord of Lottoland as he wowed the crowds on a weekly basis with his silky running style and sublime skill that yielded 12 tries (equal 13th), 4,157 run metres (fifth), 18 try assists (equal third) and 17 line-break assists (equal sixth).
Notable mentions: Billy Slater (Storm), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)
2. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)
Opportunity knocked and Josh Addo-Carr bolted straight to near the top of the NRL try-scorers. Along with Suliasi Vunivalu accounted for more than a third of all tries scored by the Storm in 2017 with Addo-Carr's 19 including four doubles and a hat-trick in the rout of the Rabbitohs. His 22 line breaks were equal third in the NRL.
Notable mentions: Jordan Rapana (Raiders), David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers)
3. Dylan Walker (Sea Eagles)
Back in his preferred position in 2017 and delivered a return to the brilliant form that marked his arrival in the NRL with South Sydney. Walker waged a one-man war against the Raiders in their golden point win in Round 8 and finished the regular season with 12 tries, 12 line breaks and 10 try assists.
Notable mentions: James Roberts (Broncos), Tautau Moga (Broncos), Curtis Scott (Storm)
4. Tyrone Peachey (Panthers)
Named in the Team of the Week centres in three of the first four rounds of the season it was actually Peachey's game-changing performance against the Warriors in Round 10 that edged him ahead of James Roberts in our Team of the Year. The powerful Panthers utility had 80 tackle busts, scored seven tries and made nine line breaks, often providing the spark in attack that his side needed.
Notable mentions: Jarrod Croker (Raiders), Konrad Hurrell (Titans), Latrell Mitchell (Roosters)
5. Semi Radradra (Eels)
There were fears Radradra had literally gone missing mid-season but the Fijian powerhouse seems determined to leave Parramatta fans with plenty of happy memories before he departs. He twice scored four tries in a game (Rd 2 v Dragons, Rd 25 v Broncos) and took his tally for the year to 20 with a hat-trick against Souths in Round 26. Now sits fifth on Eels' all-time list of try-scorers.
Notable mentions: Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm), Nene Macdonald (Dragons), Blake Ferguson (Roosters)
6. Gareth Widdop (Dragons)
It looked so good early on for the Dragons and if they had defeated Canterbury last Sunday their captain and five-eighth would have earned many of the plaudits. Started the year by dismantling the Panthers in Round 1 and had earned three Team of the Week selections by Round 5, finishing the year with 18 try assists, 16 line-break assists along with 10 tries, 75 goals and a match-winning field goal for 191 points.
Notable mentions: Anthony Milford (Broncos), Cody Walker (Rabbitohs)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
Handed the captaincy in 2017 Cherry-Evans responded by leading the team back into the Telstra Premiership Finals Series with such consistently fine displays he came close to earning an Origin recall. Finished level with Ash Taylor at the top of the try assists table with 19 but perhaps will be best remembered for field goals off both feet against the Warriors in Round 25 to win the game.
Notable mentions: Nathan Cleary (Panthers), Mitchell Pearce (Roosters), Mitchell Moses (Eels)
8. Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
May have decided his future lay elsewhere early in the season but never stopped giving for the black and gold, including his sixth Team of the Week nod in the Round 26 win over the Warriors. Finished sixth in offloads (45) and ninth in all run metres (3,579).
Notable mentions: Paul Vaughan (Dragons), Andrew Fifita (Sharks), James Graham (Bulldogs)
9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
No one made more starts in the Team of the Week than the Storm skipper who was considered best in his position an astonishing nine times in 2017, including an incredible run at the start of the year when he was our No.9 in five out of seven weeks. The only number that does him justice is the 356th game he will play this week to become the game's greatest.
Notable mentions: Apisai Koroisau (Sea Eagles), Andrew McCullough (Broncos)
10. Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
For whatever reason Trent Barrett didn't quite the best out of Martin Taupau in 2016 but that all changed dramatically this year. He is averaging 20 metres more per game this year than last and has doubled his offload output, racking up an NRL high of 71, seven more than next best Tim Lafai and 17 more than Tigers winger David Nofoaluma. Incredibly for someone who runs so hard, has only scored the one try.
Notable mentions: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Jesse Bromwich (Storm), James Tamou (Panthers)
11. Boyd Cordner (Roosters)
He may have missed a large chunk of the season but when he came back Cordner picked up exactly where he left off as the leader of the Roosters in every sense of the word. In the past two weeks alone he has come up with crucial plays to earn his side victories and a top-two finish, carrying his team forward with him. Averaged more than 153 metres and 30 tackles per game.
Notable mentions: Wade Graham (Sharks), Matt Gillett (Broncos)
12. Josh Papalii (Raiders)
A disappointing season all told for the Raiders but Papalii delivered yet another year of consistently strong performances, averaging 139 metres per game and busting through 60 tackles to get his side momentum.
Notable mentions: Angus Crichton (Rabbitohs), Josh Jackson (Bulldogs)
13. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
Quite incredibly, the only player from a Queensland-based team to make the Team of the Year in 2017. With co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston both absent for long periods much responsibility fell to Taumalolo and he responded with an NRL-high 4,469 run metres and at an incredible rate of 203.1 metres per game.
Notable mentions: Nathan Brown (Eels), Jack de Belin (Dragons), Paul Gallen (Sharks), Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs)
14. Apisai Koroisau (Sea Eagles)
Revelled in the space provided by the likes of Taupau and Jake Trbojevic, getting Manly on the front foot and then releasing to his halves. Averaged 60 run metres per game out of dummy-half with eight line breaks and six try assists.
15. Paul Vaughan (Dragons)
Was regarded as the buy of the year early in the season as he helped the Dragons get off to a flyer, his absence due to a calf injury exacerbating St George Illawarra's mid-season stumbles. Continued to rack up plenty of metres in the back-end of the season but his team still fell short of finals.
16. Wade Graham (Sharks)
The perfect mix of aggression and skill on Cronulla's left edge, Graham earned four Team of the Week nominations in the first nine weeks as the Sharks began their premiership defence with six wins. His nine line breaks and seven line-break assists provide the Sharks with an extra dimension in attack.
17. Nathan Brown (Eels)
The Eels' Player of the Year and a leading contender for buy of the year, Brown brought the aggression he had played with at both the Wests Tigers and Rabbitohs and channelled it into big minutes and big numbers. His 396 runs placed him sixth in the NRL and his 3,489 run metres 13th, averaging 152m and 35 tackles per game.
This article firt appeared on nrl.com