2018 was an outstanding year for international rugby league, so we have decided to pick out five of the very best players.
Tommy Makinson (England)
Makinson has made headlines all over the globe due to his impressive displays on the international stage this year.
The St Helens winger became only the fifth Englishman to pick up the Golden Boot award, but it was fully deserved as he was – without doubt – the best international player in 2018.
Makinson only made his international debut back in June when England eased past New Zealand in Denver. He then played a starring role in England’s 2-1 Test series win over the Kiwis in the autumn. Makinson is a sensational finisher.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (New Zealand)
Watene-Zelezniak is some player.
The full-back, who is of Māori, Tongan and Polish descent, was phenomenal for New Zealand in all four of their international matches in 2018.
Watene-Zelezniak followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps in captaining the Kiwis, which was obviously an immensely proud moment for himself. The Penrith Panthers star has explosive carries and he carts the ball in as though he is a back-rower.
James Tedesco (Australia)
The 25-year-old, who has represented Italy at the last two World Cups, enjoyed a brilliant year for club and country.
Tedesco won the NRL Premiership with Sydney Roosters, while helping New South Wales win State of Origin. He earned a call-up to the Australia squad for games against New Zealand and Tonga.
He has scored two tries in two games for the Kangaroos and could well be their long-term replacement for Billy Slater, who has retired from representative rugby league.
Jason Taumalolo (Tonga)
Taumalolo was one of the main reasons why 2018 was such a good year for international rugby league.
The 25-year-old decided to stick with Tonga following their impressive World Cup campaign the year before, and that led to plenty of other players pledging their allegiance to the Mate Ma’a.
Taumalolo now has nine caps for Tonga and is the face of the nation. He was a standout for Tonga as they were defeated by world champions Australia in Auckland.
Elliott Whitehead (England)
The England star is – arguably – the best back-rower in the world right now.
Whitehead has been an absolute revelation since his move from Catalans Dragons to Canberra Raiders in 2016. He is very highly regarded in the NRL.
And he certainly doesn’t disappoint when he pulls on the England jersey. He has played over 20 games for his country now and is one of the first names on Wayne Bennett’s teamsheet. His work ethic is remarkable.