Kiwileaguecentral.com is counting down the top 50 New Zealand league players on the planet right now.
To qualify for this list a player has to be eligible to play for New Zealand, but can be playing for another second-tier nation currently, hence the inclusion of those currently playing for Tonga, Samoa etc.
Here’s spots 50-41…
50 – Elijah Taylor
After appearing only 15 times at NRL level last season, Taylor was selected as the Tigers’ starting lock in their opening two games of 2020, averaging 31 tackles and 69 run metres. Still contributing plenty at age 30.
49 – Issac Luke
If his first two games of 2020 are anything to go by, Luke is a revitalised man at the Dragons after being hot and cold for a couple of seasons at the Warriors. Still a tenacious competitor with plenty to offer, it’s doing it consistently that’s the challenge for the 32-year-old from Hawera.
48 – Adam Blair
His 14th season in the NRL was a long way off his best. Blair copped plenty for his lack of involvement in attack last year, which included a game where he carried the ball just once during an 80-minute showing in the second row. But defensively he still gets through plenty of work, last season averaging 34 tackles per game.
47 – Alex Glenn
The ultra-consistent Glenn averaged 90 run metres per match in 2019. Didn’t play in the first two games of 2020, but will be looking to have a big year after becoming the first non-Queenslander to be handed captaincy of the Brisbane Broncos.
46 – Sia Soliola
Part of a crop of veteran Kiwis who seem to get better with age. At 33 Soliola will again be a key player for Canberra in 2020, having appeared for them 26 times last year and averaging a touch under 100 metres per game.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) September 30, 2019
45 – Josh Aloiai
Played 17 games in 2019 but struggled to nail down a regular starting spot in the Tigers’ pack. Made a good start to 2020 though, starting both games so far this year at prop and averaging 134 metres.
44 – Peta Hiku
His 10 try assists last year were the second most by a centre in the NRL in 2019, with Hiku the provider for many of left-edge partner Ken Maumalo’s tries. Didn’t appear for the Kiwis at all last year though.
That’s a delicious ball from Peta Hiku.
— League Live (@RLeagueLive) April 25, 2019
43 – Herman Ese’ese
Played 18 games for the Knights last year but failed to replicate the 2018 form which saw him rewarded with a Test debut for the Kiwis. Started both of Newcastle’s games so far in 2020 at lock.
42 – Jarome Luai
A former Junior Kiwis captain, Luai will get his chance to become an established NRL player this year at Penrith following the departure of James Maloney. Fleet-footed and creative with ball in hand, he’s a dynamic player who set up four tries across 13 games last year.
41 – Agnatius Paasi
Established himself as the Warriors’ most damaging prop last year and averaged 101 metres per game. Earned selection in the Kiwis’ 24-man squad for the end-of-year games, although he didn’t make an appearance.
(Photo: Peta Hiku. Credit: Lex Wright).