We’ve take a look at 13 NRL-based players worth keeping an eye on come this year’s Rugby League World Cup, with 10 nations being featured in this list…
13 NRL players to watch in this year’s Rugby League World Cup:
Alex Johnston – Papua New Guinea
The NRL’s leading try scorer for the last two seasons will clearly be the Kumuls’ biggest attacking threat going into the World Cup. The 26-year-old boasts an incredible try scoring record, scoring 136 tries in 166 appearances for South Sydney. Last season he broke the record for the most in a season by a Rabbitohs player with 30 to his name.
Kayal Iro – Cook Islands
The son of former Wigan and St Helens star Kevin Iro is yet to make his NRL debut. However, he boasts plenty of raw potential with his elusiveness and pace being his biggest weapon. The 21-year-old also starred for the Kukis during the Nines World Cup as he scored a brace in their shock win over Tonga.
Kotoni Staggs – Tonga
A generational talent for Brisbane who has unfortunately been struck by injuries in last couple of seasons. But, when fully fit, he has proven to be a player who can make that game changing play with his power and speed at the centre spot. The 23-year-old will be hoping to put an injury plagued 2020 behind him and help the Broncos turn a corner this coming season. Come the World Cup he will most certainly be one of Tonga’s best attacking weapons.
Jarome Luai – Samoa
The dynamic stand-off has firmly established himself as Penrith’s primary number six; and one of their most influential players over the last couple of years. The 24-year-old helped steer the Panthers to their first NRL title in 17 years last season. He has now formed a scintillating partnership alongside Nathan Cleary. Going into the World Cup he will be Samoa’s clear offensive catalyst.
Maika Sivo – Fiji
The Parramatta powerhouse winger unfortunately suffered an ACL injury during the middle of last season. But when fully fit, he is a danger to most oppositions with his strength and speed. If gets back to 100% fitness in time for the World Cup, then Fiji will have a game changing attacking force in their midst.
Herbie Farnworth – England
The 21-year-old continues to develop into an effective and standout performer for Brisbane. He comes off his best season to date in the NRL. The Lancashire-born centre has thrived since Kevin Walters took over the Broncos. He’ll give Shaun Wane plenty to contemplate come rugby league’s showpiece event.
Joseph Manu – New Zealand
The Roosters centre is now one of the very best in the game in his position. The 25-year-old is as dynamic as they come with his ball playing, try scoring ability, kicking ability and all-round creativity being extremely valuable to the Roosters and New Zealand.
Mitchell Moses – Lebanon
If Lebanon wish to cause any kind of upset, then having one of the best playmakers in the NRL will certainly go a long away in seeing that happen. The star number seven starred for the Cedars in 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Since then he has been a largely effective performer for Parramatta, displaying all the flair and creativity that have seen him become one of the standout halves in the league.
Tom Trbojevic – Australia
The 2020 Dally M Medal winner looked back to his very best last year after getting over hamstring issues to put together one of the great individual seasons in NRL history. The 25-year-old helped steer Manly to the NRL finals. He also guided New South Wales to a third State of Origin series win in four years with some truly memorable displays.
Lachlan Ilias – Greece
The 21-year-old is held in very high regard at South Sydney. He is seen as a potential replacement at scrum-half after the departure of Adam Reynolds to Brisbane. In 2019, he helped steer the Rabbitohs’ Under-21s to a Premiership win in the Jersey Flegg Cup before going on to make a great impression during his NRL debut last season in a 20-16 win over St George Illawarra Dragons. The talented youngster may not have an international cap under his belt but with him set to get more first grade experience under his belt this coming season, he may just be one of the stars for Greece come the end of the World Cup.
Jahrome Hughes – New Zealand
Since making the switch from full-back to half-back the Melbourne star has not looked back. He has proven to be one of Craig Bellamy’s most integral players. The 27-year-old is seen as one of the best running half-backs in the league. Combine that with his slick in-game kicking and passing ability, he looks more than likely to take the number seven jersey for the Kiwis. He will be one of their key figureheads in attack during the tournament.
Jason Taumalolo – Tonga
The North Queensland Cowboys wrecking ball has been one of best the forwards in the world for a long time. The 28-year-old possesses elite work rate and destructive ball carrying. Barring injury, he will once again be a leader for Tonga and compete in his third World Cup.
Adam Doueihi – Lebanon
The combination of both Doueihi and Moses in Lebanon’s halves is more enough to turn some heads. The 23-year-old is as versatile as they come with the ability to play at variety of positions. Since joining the Tigers in 2020 his game has stepped up to another level.