Cameron Smith is no longer the best player in the NRL, according to his peers.
One-hundred-and-fifty players from all 16 clubs took part in the 2020 NRL players’ poll and were asked a range of questions about their fellow players and other topical issues in the game. For the past two years the majority agreed Smith was the game’s best player but votes tallied this year ended his reign.
After polling the most votes in 2019 (31 per cent) and 2018 (45 per cent) as the code’s premier player, Smith has fallen down the pecking order to James Tedesco and Jason Taumalolo, with the Roosters fullback receiving the most votes from his contemporaries.
Almost half of all players polled in the NRL said Tedesco was the game’s best, with 49 per cent agreeing the Roosters star is a cut above the rest.
Cowboys enforcer Taumalolo was a distant second garnering 21 per cent of the vote, while Smith attracted nine per cent.
Tedesco’s rapid development over the last two years has coincided with the Roosters’ consecutive premiership wins and the Blues recent dominance at Origin level.
Last year Tedesco scored 19 per cent of the vote as best player but still trailed the Storm great according to teammates and rival players.
In 2018, the former Wests Tigers star didn’t make the list at all, with Billy Slater the only fullback to get a mention. That year Smith trumped all, with 45 per cent of players crowning him the best with Johnathan Thurston a long way behind in second place on 12 per cent.
Taumalolo’s stature among the code’s players has also grown quickly after gaining eight per cent of the vote last year. He didn’t make the list the year before. Tom Trbojevic featured among the game’s elite, with the Manly star attracting five per cent of the vote.
Perhaps one of the bigger surprises was the inclusion of Mitchell Moses. Three per cent of players voted the Parramatta playmaker as the No.1 NRL player, beating out the likes of Cameron Munster and Kalyn Ponga.
Smith’s standing in the game is still prominent – the Storm rake was voted the best hooker in the game three years out from his 40th birthday and was also recognised as best captain in the NRL.
In a positive sign for the Storm, on-loan star Harry Grant was mentioned among the game’s best hookers having only made nine NRL appearances. Grant is viewed as the game’s third best dummy-half among the voting players and is currently playing for the Wests Tigers on a loan deal before returning to Melbourne next year.
Grant was also rated the buy of the year and the most impressive NRL rookie in 2020.