Badel’s top 50: Ponga has so much more to give
Check out part four of Peter Badel's top 50 NRL players as the kick-off of the 2020 season draws near.
He's dropped out of the top 10 this season, but Kalyn Ponga has so much more to give the NRL and its fans.
A move to rugby union would be a devastating blow for the league as the young gun's career just starts to flourish.
He just misses out on a top 10 spot as our countdown continues on the best NRL talents for 2020.
20 Boyd Cordner
LAST YEAR: 12
Another dominant campaign from the Roosters skipper. An ultra-consistent presence in the back row who simply inspires with his leadership at club, Origin and Test level. A magnificent line-runner who rarely lets his sides down in defence. Has brought a steely edge to the NSW team.
19 Mitchell Moses
What a season at the Eels last year. Moses led the league for try assists with 25 from 26 games and at age 25, has reached the perfect midpoint of his career. Silky skills, great vision and a handy boot, Moses has all the tricks. Don't rule him out for the Dally M Medal this season.
18 Josh Hodgson
LAST YEAR: 37
Was simply magical in the Raiders' charge to last year's grand final. If England have a man to mirror the guile and craft of Cameron Smith, Hodgson is the one. Knows how to control a game out of dummy half and possesses the kicking game to put teams on the back foot. Has fought back well from a knee reconstruction.
17 John Bateman
The revelation of the 2019 season. Most Englishman take a few years to adjust to the rigours of the NRL. Bateman slotted in instantly, lifting the Raiders to another level with his workrate, ball skills and menace in defence. The British ace is a no-fuss, calming presence who gave the Green Machine some much-needed big-match mongrel.
16 Jack Wighton
Has threatened for a number of years before coming of age last season to spearhead Canberra's grand-final charge. An athletic specimen at 189cm and 93kg, Wighton could arguably play any position in the game. Made his Origin debut last season and is the perfect utility at rep level with his mix of speed, strength and ball-playing ability.
15 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
LAST YEAR: 4
Not as dominant as the 2018 season, when he won the Dally M Medal, but RTS is still a wonderful sight in full flight. Imagine the Warriors without him. Few athletes in the world's football codes would possess his fitness and footwork. Always a danger running the ball in open space.
14 Damien Cook
LAST YEAR: 14
The code's No.1 hooker when Cam Smith retires. Has revolutionised the position in recent years with the blinding speed of 100-metre sprinter as he bursts out of dummy half. Incredibly tough as well and can take a hit at speed and still bounce away to keep Souths' attack rolling. An Origin nightmare for the Maroons.
13 Latrell Mitchell
LAST YEAR: 11
A tough player to rank. On the score of talent, Mitchell could be No.1, but the off-field dramas which triggered his shock exit from the Roosters to join the Rabbitohs leave a huge question mark. Does he have the desire to be the best? Will he truly realise his potential? On his day, he is the closest thing to Greg Inglis. If Wayne Bennett gets him going, Souths can win the premiership.
12 Tom Trbojevic
LAST YEAR: 20
One word: freak. At full flight, Tommy 'Turbo' is simply breathtaking, a wonderfully-balanced athlete who is dangerous from anywhere on the park. His hat-trick of tries to whip the Maroons in Origin II was the perfect demonstration of his talent. Only injuries, which restricted him to 12 NRL games, halted him as a Dally M Medal chance.
11 Kalyn Ponga
LAST YEAR: 7
'KP' has only scratched the surface of his talent. A top 10 player last year, Ponga drops a few places after a bittersweet 2019 campaign. Had some magnificent individual games at club level but the Knights failed to make the finals. At rep level, Ponga was classy in Origin I before injury in game two saw him miss the decider. The 21-year-old plays his 50th NRL game in round one and has the skill to be one of the code's greats.