Panthers nominated for Players' Champion
The NRL's new generation of showstoppers lead a star-studded 64-man short list for the RLPA's prestigious Players' Champion award.
Under revamped voting rules, every contracted player in the game can have their say on the highest peer-voted honour in rugby league, and it's some of the game's youngest and most entertaining stars tipped to battle it out for the honour in 2018.
Newcastle wunderkind Kalyn Ponga, Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook and Roosters powerhouse Latrell Mitchell are all revelling in breakout campaigns, while Melbourne maestro Cameron Munster is also expected to feature heavily when the final votes for the Players' Champion are tallied.
Four players from each club have been nominated for opponents to vote via a 3-2-1 basis, with the RLPA's Top 13 Dream Team, rookie, women's and representative players of the year also to be announced at September 11 event.
The top five nominees for the award will be announced on NRL.com next Thursday.
With around 5000 games of NRL experience retiring at the end of 2018, several old hands are bowing out on top with veterans Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and James Maloney nominated for the top gong.
Overwhelmingly though the shortlist is dripping with young talent – with the likes of James Roberts, Valentine Holmes, the Trbojevic brothers, Viliame Kikau and Luke Brooks all earning a start, as well as 2017 champion James Tedesco.
Here are the nominees
Brisbane: Jamayne Isaako, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, James Roberts
Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Elliot Whitehead
Will Hopoate, Josh Jackson, David Klemmer, Josh Morris
Valentine Holmes, Matt Moylan, Matt Prior, Andrew Fifita
Jai Arrow, Michael Gordon, Ryan James, Anthony Don
Joel Thompson, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans
Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater
Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra, Kalyn Ponga, Sione Mata'utia
New Zealand Warriors:
Issac Luke, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Green
Kyle Feldt, Jason Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston, Gavin Cooper
Daniel Alvaro, George Jennings, Tepai Moeroa, Mitchell Moses
James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau, Isaah Yeo, James Maloney
Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Cody Walker, Sam Burgess
St George Illawarra:
Cameron McInnes, Tariq Sims, Gareth Widdop, Paul Vaughan
Blake Ferguson, Luke Keary, James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell
Luke Brooks, Esan Marsters, Corey Thompson, Ben Matulino