Kiwileaguecentral.com is celebrating the 50 best New Zealand league players on the planet right now, with the release of our annual NZ Top 50.
Spots 30-21 contain a couple of New Zealand’s best backs, bookend beasts and arguably the most underrated Kiwi in the game.
* Note this list is based on Kiwi-eligible players who haven’t represented another tier-one nation, not who a player last played for at Test level. (Main photo: NRLPhotos).
30 – Danny Levi
Continued to grow despite playing in the NRL’s worst team for the third year in a row. A tough defender for his size, Levi has improved his vision and running out of dummy-half this year and was duly rewarded with a Test debut at the World Cup.
29 – Corey Harawira-Naera
Burst onto the scene and quickly commanded a place in the Penrith line-up each week. A dynamic edge runner who broke the line 12 times in 22 games. Few second-rowers presented the threat ‘CHN’ did near the line this season.
28 – Jordan Kahu
Mr reliable on the wing for Wayne Bennett at the Broncos, playing 25 games and scoring nine tries. Brave under the high ball, Kahu is the guy you want defusing aerial threats, and anytime he is fit he should be a first-choice option for the Kiwis.
27 – Sosaia Feki
Now a frontline NRL winger, where his strike rate of a try every second game stands up with a number of bigger names. The 26-year-old carried for over 90 metres in 20 of 24 games for the Sharks.
26 – Alex Glenn
Asked to play a few different roles for the Broncos this year, but seems to get the job done in any circumstances these days. The talented Northcote junior averaged over 26 tackles per game and 106 metres and was a genuine threat on the ball, breaking the line nine times.
25 – Suaia Matagi
Big Suaia had his most consistent season in the top grade, becoming a staple of the Parramatta pack. It was the first season where he really showed the hardened edge required by NRL bookends, playing 26 games and averaging a touch under 100 metres per game.
📈 2017 REVIEW | Suaia Matagi
📌 26 games
😡 262 runs
💪 96.6 avg run metres
— KiwiLeagueCentral (@KiwiLeague) November 28, 2017
24 – Isaac Liu
A productive middle presence whether coming off the bench or starting at lock or prop. Liu does most of the technical aspects of forward play well and gets to a quick play the ball more often than not. Made only eight errors across 22 club appearances and earned a Kiwis call-up.
23 – Joseph Tapine
Took strong club form into the Kiwis’ camp for the World Cup and was one of their better forwards. At his best when encouraged to offload, Tapine was used both as a middle and edge forward in 2017.
22 – Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Arguably the breakout Kiwi of 2017, this Wellington-born colossus played a leading role in Melbourne winning the Premiership and then backed it up by being arguably New Zealand’s best players at the World Cup, where he averaged 140 metres per game.
21 – Leeson Ah Mau
He hardly receives any plaudits, but Ah Mau is one of the most impressive forwards in the NRL when it comes to his output to error ratio. In 24 games this year he made just four errors and missed only 18 tackles, while making 593. Not just a safe option, the 27-year-old also averaged well over 115 metres per game.