Six back-rowers to watch in the NRL in 2021

Zach Holland

With the NRL season just around the corner, we’ve taken a look six back-rowers to watch this year.

Angus Crichton – Sydney Roosters

Angus Crichton is out for the Roosters

The 25-year-old was impressive both at club and representative level last year and even though the Roosters boast plenty of star talent, Crichton continues to come into his own and is now arguably one of the best all-round back-rowers in the game today. The New South Wales representative produced great averages last year with 111 metres and 34 metres per game and can continue to take his game to another level as we come into 2021.

Elliott Whitehead – Canberra Raiders

The 31-year-old is a very underrated performer for the Raiders, with his rugby league IQ helping him standout among others in his position. Overall, he continues to offer sharpness to the Canberra attack as well as being an important figure of their impressive defence. With John Bateman moving back to Super League, the premise will be on Whitehead to step up in 2021 and continue to be a leader in the forward pack.

Ryan Matterson – Parramatta Eels

Ryan Matterson returns for Parramatta this week

Like Crichton, Matterson has a great all-round skill set that cements him as one of the best and most consistent back-rowers in the league. The 26-year-old is always a lively player with the ball in his hand, boasting an average of over just more than 100 metres per game last year while his exceptional offloading ability creates plenty of second chance opportunities for the Eels.

David Fifita – Gold Coast Titans

An injury may have hampered his year but even still, he is one of the most exciting players to watch in the game. Even after returning from a knee injury, the 21-year-old showed exactly how destructive he can be as a ball carrier, showcasing agility and speed nearly equal to that of a backline player. The young Queensland superstar now takes his talents to the Gold Coast in 2021 and will undoubtedly be one of the players to watch over the next few years.

Tohu Harris – New Zealand Warriors

The 29-year-old comes into 2021 following a much improved year with the Warriors in 2020. The former Melbourne forward led from the front in a struggling side as he was a key player from both an offensive and defensive standpoint, averaging near 150 metres and 40 tackles per game with excellent efficiency. It looks to be another tough year ahead for the Warriors so they will be reliant on players such as Harris to continue to be in top form.

Viliame Kikau – Penrith Panthers

The Panthers’ resident wrecking ball established himself as one of the game’s elite players last year and even went onto claim the Dally M Second Rower of The Year alongside Tohu Harris. The 25-year-old was a monster with the ball in his hand, continuously breaking tackles and making himself a nightmare for his opposition while his own offloading ability was a huge positive for Penrith. The Panthers will no doubt want to put the disappoint of the Grand Final behind them and if talismanic players such as Kikau continue to impress, then they can easily be up there again come the end of the year.

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