As part of the NRL 2020 Annual, historian David Middleton takes a look back at the 2020 season and settles on his top five players.
Nathan Cleary The chart plotting Nathan Cleary’s progress as a leading NRL playmaker remained on a sharp incline in 2020 despite the disappointments of a grand final loss and State of Origin series defeat.
The 23-year-old was acclaimed the best halfback in the NRL, named the Players’ Champion by the RLPA and was a key figure in the Panthers’ record-breaking run to the minor premiership.
The departure of James Maloney at the end of the 2019 season left Cleary in the driver’s seat at Penrith and he proved his readiness for the role with his most consistent season.
He was the popular choice to carry off the Dally M title and even though he missed out on the honour (by two votes) his status as an elite NRL talent was not up for debate.
Cleary was instrumental in the Panthers smashing the club record for consecutive wins (the run ended at 17 in the grand final) which carried them to their first minor premiership title since 2003.