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NRL: Top five players of the season

The NRL is packed with wall-to-wall talent and it has been another outstanding season, one full of excitement in 2023.

It will come to a gripping climax on Sunday when the Penrith Panthers take on the Brisbane Broncos in the grand final.

The Panthers and Broncos have been the best two teams this season, but there have been some stand-out performances elsewhere as well.

Here is our take on the best five players in the NRL this season.

WhatPenrith Panthers v Brisbane Broncos
WhereAccor Stadium, Sydney
When18:30 (AEST) Sunday 1st October, 2023 
How to watchChannel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsPenrith Panthers 1.62, Brisbane Broncos 2.30

Kalyn Ponga

The Newcastle Knights superstar had an up and down season in the NRL, missing a large portion of it through injury.

However he still did enough to be handed the Dally M Medal on Wednesday night, just pipping Shaun Johnson of the New Zealand Warriors by a point.

Ponga was a revelation in the latter part of the season when helping guide Newcastle, who finished fifth on the ladder, into finals.

The playmaker switched from fullback to the halves in 2023 and it was a move that clearly paid off for the Knights.

Reece Walsh

The Brisbane Broncos fullback has been one of the players of the season when helping the Broncos to the NRL grand final.

Brisbane did not even make finals in 2022, but the arrival of Walsh from the Warriors has made a huge difference.

Walsh also stepped into State of Origin with ease, helping Queensland to a series win over New South Wales.

Walsh has the potential to be one of the greatest players the NRL has ever seen and he will be gunning for his first premiership against the Panthers.

Shaun Johnson

Many believe that Johnson should have picked up the Dally M Medal ahead of Ponga, and was hard done by in the vote.

Either way, Johnson had an outstanding, consistent season for the Warriors, who proved the doubters wrong to make the top four.

Johnson helped guide the Warriors to a preliminary final, which they lost against the Broncos, but he and his side can be proud of the season they had.

The leadership and performances of Johnson were second to none and it is fair to say he played career-best footy in the 2023 NRL campaign.

Jamayne Isaako

The Dolphins made a splash in their debut NRL season and a lot of that is down to the try-scoring exploits of Isaako.

The winger was a revelation throughout the season and managed to top the try-scoring charts, with 24, one ahead of Newcastle counterpart Dominic Young.

Isaako averaged a try a game and the Dolphins will have a lot to look forward to next season with the powerful winger in the side.

Nathan Cleary

A list of the best players in the NRL is not complete without Penrith Panthers playmaker Nathan Cleary, who has had another outstanding season.

The Panthers halfback has been described as ‘an absolute genius’ and the ‘best player in the world’ after helping his side to another grand final.

A win over the Broncos will see the Panthers complete the three-peat, and if Cleary is on fire again, they will take some stopping.

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