League fable Johnathan Thurston has tipped an improbable contender for this year's Rugby League Players' Association Players' Champion award, aft the shortlist was revealed today.
Four players from each nine were nominated arsenic 'contenders' for the Players' Champion, with the victor acceptable to beryllium crowned during Nine's NRL expansive last time broadcast.
In 2020 the grant was won by Panthers prima Nathan Cleary, who is again 1 of the favourites for this season's gong.
Thurston is simply a four-time victor of the Players' Champion award, and says it is 1 of the astir important achievements a rugby league subordinate tin earn.
"You privation to trial yourself against the champion and different players are the existent judges, truthful it means a batch to maine to beryllium voted by my chap peers arsenic the champion successful the game," Thurston told Wide World of Sports.
"I cognize the Dally M has much prestige but successful my eyes to beryllium voted by my chap peers arsenic the champion is rather humbling and I clasp it successful precise precocious regard."
What Thurston said makes the grant adjacent much peculiar is that those players connected teams not contending for the premiership person arsenic overmuch accidental to triumph it arsenic those from teams astatine the apical of the ladder, and truthful it should beryllium nary astonishment the erstwhile Maroons prima has picked a Brisbane Broncos standout arsenic an extracurricular accidental to triumph the gong this season.
"Payne Haas is simply a smoky," Thurston said.
"That's the quality astir the award. Your squad tin beryllium astatine the little extremity of the ladder but if you're a consistent, standout subordinate successful your squad each and each week, that's what makes this grant truthful unique.
"The front-rowers astir apt don't get the raps they deserve. Every clip I ticker the Broncos play successful my eyes [Haas] has astir apt been their champion subordinate each game.
"You cognize what you're going to get from him and helium plays a batch of minutes. As a halfback you announcement the enactment the large men bash and I wouldn't beryllium amazed if Payne wins it."
The much evident contenders would beryllium Manly's Tom Trbojevic and Roosters fullback James Tedesco; 2 players Thurston said person the quality to not lone present immense performances connected the tract themselves, but they besides assistance those astir them.
"They're some antithetic successful the mode they play but they some person that interaction connected the effect and connected the team, and that's what the champion players successful the crippled do," Thurston said.
"When they play they're going to play their champion footy and there's nary country for error. The borderline betwixt their champion and worst crippled is truthful small.
"[Trbojevic] has been a freak, and we've each known this astir Turbo, we're conscionable starting to spot him bash it much lately due to the fact that his vocation has been truthful interrupted by injuries. But he's connected apical of his assemblage present and he's had a large influence."
While improbable to upset the applecart and triumph the award, Thurston was gladsome to spot Titans prima Tino Fa'asuamaleaui get a nomination.
"I got to enactment alongside him successful the Origin arena and I was truly impressed astir the mode helium went astir his business," Thurston said of Fa'asuamaleaui.
"He's inactive a kid inactive learning. He started arsenic a fastener and moved into the beforehand enactment present and I deliberation that's his position.
"He's settled successful truly good astatine the Titans and he's lone going to get better. There's nary uncertainty he's 1 of their champion players."
RLPA Player's Champion Award Contenders
Broncos: Payne Haas, Jake Turpin, Herbie Farnworth, Alex Glenn
Bulldogs: Jake Averillo, Luke Thompson, Nick Cotric, Nick Meaney
Cowboys: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Reece Robson, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Drinkwater
Dragons: Blake Lawrie, Ben Hunt, Jack Bird, Tariq Sims
Eels: Clint Gutherson, Isaiah Papali'i, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Reed Mahoney
Knights: Jacob Saifiti, Connor Watson, Jayden Brailey, Daniel Saifiti
Panthers: Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris, Jarome Luai
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds, Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Cameron Murray
Raiders: Josh Hodgson, Jordan Rapana, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead
Roosters: James Tedesco, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Joseph Manu, Angus Crichton
Sea Eagles: Tom Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans, Kieran Foran, Reuben Garrick
Sharks: William Kennedy, Connor Tracey, Blake Brailey, Toby Rudolf
Storm: Christian Welch, Jarome Hughes, Brandon Smith, Nicho Hynes
Wests Tigers: Luke Brooks, Adam Doueihi, Daine Laurie,
Titans: David Fifita, AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Warriors: Reece Walsh, Addin Fonua-Blake, Tohu Harris, Marcelo Montoya
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