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Our experts put together a top 23 players in the NRL ahead of the 2023 season. See it here


NRL 2023

By Mat Barnes & Ely Corliss

We’ve literally made it.

It’s NRL 2023 time and we thought we’d celebrate by re-launching our off season rankings; the best 23 players heading into the NRL 2023 season.

Now look. We were determined to put out a more balanced and logical list, assembled by our best rugby league minds. That means we’ve tried to avoid click-baity and controversial talking points you’d find on other publications.

NRL 2023 Breakout Guide

Mat Barnes and Ely Corliss have both put together their top 23 players heading into the NRL 2023 year, forming one combined list based on their average rank (both individual lists can be found at the bottom).

It certainly factors in 2022 form generously, but that’s not the be all and end all. Tom Trbojevic and Ryan Papenhuyzen, for example, are elite and upper-tier players that caught the injury bug last season… but that doesn’t mean they’re not top talents in the NRL.

Here’s where the dust settled as we look towards NRL 2023.

Dally M, 2022, Nicho Hynes
Nicho Hynes wins the 2022 Dally M medal | Top 23 for NRL 2023

Our Top 23 players for NRL 2023

1. Cameron Munster (Storm half)

No player is more influential than Munster; if he fires, he wins. A cloned composition of Wally and Locky; ‘Munny’ has all the amalgamated attributes of the two champion Queensland five-eighths that preceded him. He is dynamic and dogged, gifted and graceful, clever and cunning – a natural born winner and champion who seizes the biggest moments on the grandest occasions. At 28 years of age, the best is yet to come.

– Mat Barnes

2. Nathan Cleary (Panthers’ half)

3. James Tedesco (Roosters’ fullback)

4. Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles’ fullback)

Nathan Cleary
Nathan Cleary (right) celebrating a strong Origin II win, 2022 |Top 23 for NRL 2023

5. Nicho Hynes (Sharks’ half)

Hynes’ first season at Cronulla was simply phenomenal, culminating in a maiden Dally M medal, something Nathan Cleary still hasn’t managed to get his hands on.

6. Joseph Tapine (Raiders’ middle forward)

Not many envisioned the Raiders making the finals in 2022, let alone knocking the Storm out in the first week. None of that would’ve been possible without the unbelievable emergence of Joe Tapine, who took his game to loftier heights this year. Canberra’s 28-year-old averaged 165m, 69 post-contact, along with a tackle efficiency of 95%, to come in as the list’s top forward.

– Ely Corliss

7. Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs’ fullback)

Latrell Mitchell, NRL 2023
Top 23 for NRL 2023

8. Cam Murray (Rabbitohs’ forward)

South Sydney are still very much in a premiership window and it’s thanks to the one-two punch of Cam Murray’s elite play-the-ball speed and Latrell Mitchell’s instinctual creativity off the back of it. Then there’s Murray’s rock solid defence and Mitchell’s aggression to deal with also.

– Ely Corliss

9. Harry Grant (Storm hooker)

10. Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm fullback)

The Storm’s lightning quick spine will continue to keep them in the hunt for silverware in 2023, with Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen key to their success. Along with Munster, Melbourne boasts three key playmakers in this list’s top 10; a scary reminder of the Storm’s annual ceiling.

– Ely Corliss

11. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys’ middle forward)

12. Joseph Manu (Roosters’ back)

13. Isaah Yeo (Panthers’ lock)

The lock-forward position has evolved more than most in recent years to not only hold supreme significance in defence, but attacking structures too. Yeo is the benchmark, often toiling tirelessly in the middle for 80-minutes while remaining a constant attacking threat through late footwork, robust running, and selective distribution of the footy. He is the first forward selected for state and country, and an indispensable component of the greatest NRL side ever.

– Mat Barnes

14. Payne Haas (Broncos’ prop)

15. Ben Hunt (Dragons’ half)

NRL 2023, Ben Hunt
Ben Hunt with the series-winner for Queensland in Origin III, 2022 | Top 23 for NRL 2023

16. Dylan Brown (Eels’ half)

If it wasn’t for Dylan Brown, the Parramatta Eels don’t make the Grand Final. His ability to manipulate opponents on both sides of the game is impressive for a 22-year-old, with more growth expected next season.

– Ely Corliss

Embed from Getty Images

17. Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles’ half)

18. Valentine Holmes (Cowboys’ back)

19. Isiah Papali’i (Eels but now Tigers’ edge forward)

20. Adam Reynolds (Broncos’ half)

The gravity of Reynolds’ Rabbitohs contribution was often underestimated amongst a star-powered lineup. His move to the Broncos in 2022 highlighted his halfback mastery and ability to instil belief and direction in those around him. The increased onus on performance brought his attacking flair to the fore; scoring brilliant individual tries, and assisting many more. His kicking game is neck-and-neck with Nathan Cleary’s as the NRL’s best, and another massive season lies ahead for the diminutive dynamo.

– Mat Barnes

Embed from Getty Images

21. Api Koroisau (Panthers but now Tigers’ hooker)

22. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans’ middle forward)

23. Cody Walker (Rabbitohs’ half)

Mat Barnes’ Top 23 for NRL 2023:

1 Cameron Munster, 2 Nathan Cleary, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 James Tedesco, 5 Tom Trbojevic, 6 Isaah Yeo, 7 Cam Murray, 8 Nicho Hynes, 9 Harry Grant, 10 Joe Tapine, 11 Joey Manu, 12 Ben Hunt, 13 Ryan Papenhuyzen, 14 Daly Cherry-Evans, 15 Adam Reynolds, 16 Jason Taumalolo, 17 Api Koroisau, 18 James Fisher-Harris, 19 Cody Walker, 20 Kalyn Ponga, 21 Payne Haas, 22 Valentine Holmes, 23 Jack Wighton

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Ely Corliss’ Top 23 for NRL 2023

1. Cameron Munster, 2. Nathan Cleary, 3. James Tedesco, 4. Joe Tapine, 5. Nicho Hynes, 6. Tom Trbojevic, 7. Payne Haas, 8. Jason Taumalolo, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Cam Murray, 11. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 12. Latrell Mitchell, 13. Dylan Brown, 14. Joey Manu, 15. Isaiah Papalii, 16. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 17. Dylan Edwards, 18. Ben Hunt, 19. Stephen Crichton, 20. Hudson Young, 21. Patrick Carrigan, 22. Valentine Holmes, 23. Matt Burton

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