Who made the final cut?
Who made the final cut? QRL MEDIA

The ISC’s top players ranked 1 to 30

WITH the Intrust Super Cup to benefit from its latest influx of quality recruits, we look at the best 30 players to watch out for in the 2019 competition.

 

 

 

1. Pat Politoni

Club: Burleigh

Position: Hooker

Age: 27

Pat Politoni. Picture: Jerad Williams
Pat Politoni. Picture: Jerad Williams

This might be a surprise top choice to some but Politoni brings every asset a team could want in a player: Experience from three NRL clubs, leadership, fitness, defensive solidity, creativity out of dummy-half and a useful kicking game. Easily led the competition in both try assists and tackles in 2018.

 

2. Nathaniel Neale

Club: Ipswich

Position: Prop

Age: 30

Nat Neale. Picture: AAP Image
Nat Neale. Picture: AAP Image

Neale was nothing but inspirational in a 2018 campaign during which he carried the Jets to finals and won the Civoniceva Medal. A captain and 80-minute prop, Neale's statistics last season included averaging 31 tackles and 147m plus a total of nine tries, 93 tackle breaks and 61 offloads.

 

3. Jamal Fogarty

Club: Burleigh

Position: Halfback

Age: 25

Jamal Fogarty. Picture: SMP Images
Jamal Fogarty. Picture: SMP Images

ISC commentator Scott Sattler openly regards him as the competition's premier player and many scratch their heads at how he has just two NRL games to his name. A superb general, Fogarty gets his team around the park better than any other No.7 and is a top kicking - and goal-kicking - option to boot.

 

4. Josh Cleeland

Club: Ipswich

Position: Five-eighth

Age: 27

Josh Cleeland, Picture: AAP Image
Josh Cleeland, Picture: AAP Image

There is considerable excitement in the land of the Jets surrounding the return of their 2015 premiership-winning playmaker. Unlucky to not get an NRL shot with the Bulldogs, who he guided to Intrust Super Championship glory last year, Cleeland is back to where it all began and is destined to make a difference.

 

5. Josh Chudleigh

Club: Townsville

Position: Hooker

Age: 24

Josh Chudleigh at Blackhawks training. Picture: Evan Morgan
Josh Chudleigh at Blackhawks training. Picture: Evan Morgan

The tireless rake has had a horror injury run since being crowned the ISC's best player in 2016, lining up in just three matches since then. But even in those rare outings, Chudleigh showed he is still as classy as ever, so with a bit of health luck he will be back in the spotlight before long.

 

6. Sam Scarlett

Club: Wynnum Manly

Position: Halfback

Age: 24

Sam Scarlett kicks during Wynnum Manly’s pre-season trial against the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image
Sam Scarlett kicks during Wynnum Manly’s pre-season trial against the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image

Wynnum have struggled the past few seasons in the halves department but they have found their answer in ex-Magpie Scarlett, whose organisation skills and playmaking ability have long made him one of the competition's best players.

 

7. Richie Kennar

Club: Wynnum Manly

Position: Wing

Age: 24

Richie Kennar scores a try for the Rabbitohs against Brisbane in their Round 23 clash last year. Picture: Getty Images
Richie Kennar scores a try for the Rabbitohs against Brisbane in their Round 23 clash last year. Picture: Getty Images

Kennar's path has taken a few twists and turns in the past 12 months. The powerful ball-runner suffered a serious ankle injury, was released from his Rabbitohs contract to complete a two-year Mormon mission, which he has since back-flipped on and has joined the Seagulls. Last week he penned a one-year deal with the Broncos.

 

8. Luke Page

Club: Burleigh

Position: Prop

Age: 28

Burleigh's Luke Page and Norths’ Luke Archer. Picture: Peter Wallis
Burleigh's Luke Page and Norths’ Luke Archer. Picture: Peter Wallis

Regularly a top five vote-getter by the end of each season, the front-rower brings energy and leadership in spades every time he steps on the field. Page is far from the biggest prop in the game but is fearless with every carry.

 

9. Jonathon Reuben

Club: Sunshine Coast

Position: Wing

Age: 25

Jonathon Reuben. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Jonathon Reuben. Picture: Alix Sweeney

If you give this guy any space, you'll live to regret it. The speedster has been the competition's most prolific try-scorer since joining Townsville in 2015, chalking up 70 four-pointers in 68 games. Has switched to the Falcons with the hope of finally cracking the NRL.

 

10. Todd Murphy

Club: Sunshine Coast

Position: Halfback

Age: 28

Todd Murphy. Picture: QRL
Todd Murphy. Picture: QRL

Murphy is another man on the move to the Sunshine Coast, having been a Devils stalwart. He came close to a Broncos call-up last year but once again it eluded him. Nonetheless, Murphy has consistently been a stellar ISC performer and will instantly lift the Falcons' stocks.

 

11. Jamil Hopoate

Club: Redcliffe

Position: Lock

Age: 24

Jamil Hopoate. Picture: Jon Sloan
Jamil Hopoate. Picture: Jon Sloan

The brother of Bulldogs fullback Will has a huge role to play as one of the few star players returning from Redcliffe's title triumph. Hopoate is the reigning lock of the year and has spoken of his mission to turn his life around since doing jail time for a 2014 assault.

 

12. Michael Purcell

Club: Ipswich

Position: Fullback

Age: 25

Michael Purcell. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Michael Purcell. Picture: Alix Sweeney

The competition's true excitement machine, Purcell is a nightmare for opposition defences if given just the smallest window of opportunity. He scored 22 tries in 19 matches last year. The flyer is known as "the kangaroo catcher" for a story whereby he chased down a kangaroo in the wild.

 

13. Pat Templeman

Club: Wynnum Manly

Position: Fullback

Age: 26

Pat Templeman. Picture: Richard Walker
Pat Templeman. Picture: Richard Walker

The 2015 player of the competition has stayed with the Seagulls through thick and thin during the club's three-year finals absence, including a 2017 season he missed entirely through injury. Templeman has a knack of creating tries for himself or teammates and can slot into the halves or kick goals if needed.

 

14. Guy Hamilton

Club: Souths Logan

Position: Five-eighth

Age: 23

Guy Hamilton. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Guy Hamilton. Picture: Alix Sweeney

A versatile playmaker with an excellent goal-kicking reputation, Hamilton is set to lift his game to the next level as the Magpies' dominant half. In doing so, watch out for him and superstar in the making Tanah Boyd to form a dynamic halves pairing.

 

15. Matthew Wright

Club: Central Queensland

Position: Fullback/wing

Age: 28

Manly's Matthew Wright scores a try in the corner under pressure from the Roosters' Blake Ferguson. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Manly's Matthew Wright scores a try in the corner under pressure from the Roosters' Blake Ferguson. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Wright chalked up 143 first grade appearances across a decade at Cronulla, North Queensland and Manly and has covered fullback, wing, centre, five-eighth and hooker. Still only 28 years of age, the five-time Samoan international will make a huge difference to the Capras roster.

 

16. John Palavi

Club: Tweed Heads

Position: Lock

Age: 26

Ex-Warriors forward John Palavi. Picture: Waide Maguire
Ex-Warriors forward John Palavi. Picture: Waide Maguire

With five NRL games with the Warriors to his name, Palavi captained Norths last year and is a marquee signing for Tweed Heads. A Titans train-and-triallist this summer, he averaged upwards of 30 tackles and 100 running metres last year and is capable of playing the full 80 minutes in the middle.

 

17. Mitchell Frei

Club: Souths Logan

Position: Lock/second-row

Age: 27

Mitchell Frei. Picture: Richard Walker
Mitchell Frei. Picture: Richard Walker

After a decorated stint at Wynnum Manly that was interrupted in 2016 by seven NRL outings for the Sydney Roosters, Frei has reunited with his former coach Jon Buchanan at Souths Logan. Adding size and experience, he is the club's star signing.

 

18. Patrick Carrigan

Club: Wynnum Manly

Position: Second-row/prop

Age: 21

Patrick Carrigan is a Broncos prodigy.
Patrick Carrigan is a Broncos prodigy.

The youngest player to make the list, Carrigan has a huge future at the Broncos, who he reportedly knocked back a seven-figure offer from Canterbury to stay with. The physiotherapy student doubles as a hard-working forward on the field and he captained Queensland to under-20 State of Origin victory last year.

 

19. Jayden Hodges

Club: Mackay

Position: Hooker

Age: 25

Jayden Hodges in action for Mackay. Picture: AAP Image
Jayden Hodges in action for Mackay. Picture: AAP Image

The cousin of former Maroons centre Justin Hodges, the tackling machine's career was derailed by long-term injuries in 2016 and 2017. He managed 21 matches for the Cutters last year and no longer has competition from Josh Chudleigh for the No.9 role, meaning the path is clear for him to keep regaining fans.

 

20. Kyle Laybutt

Club: Townsville

Position: Five-eighth/halfback

Age: 23

Kyle Laybutt ahead of his NRL debut in 2017.
Kyle Laybutt ahead of his NRL debut in 2017.

The Bundaberg product will be back in Blackhawks colours after a one-year stint at Mackay that was disrupted by a torn pectoral. Having made two NRL appearances in 2017, Laybutt has a point to prove after dropping out of the race to succeed Johnathan Thurston in the Cowboys halves.

 

21. Marion Seve

Club: Easts

Position: Centre

Age: 23

Marion Seve during the 2018 preliminary final against Burleigh. Picture: AAP Image
Marion Seve during the 2018 preliminary final against Burleigh. Picture: AAP Image

Seve has forever been a highly regarded talent on the brink of making a name for himself. The cancer survivor played under-20s for Wests Tigers in 2015, was in the Broncos' squad and now is on Melbourne's books. Scored 17 tries last year, including a finals hat-trick against his former club Ipswich.

 

22.Will Bugden

Club: Northern Pride

Position: Prop

Age: 25

Will Bugden storms towards the Souths Logan defensive line. Picture: Brendan Radke
Will Bugden storms towards the Souths Logan defensive line. Picture: Brendan Radke

The hard-hitting bulldozer is a bona fide leader in the Pride's engine room. Now 73 games into a career that started at Tweed Heads in 2015, he has increased his workload and is expected to bounce back from a below-par defensive season last year.

 

23. Kurtis Rowe

Club: Burleigh

Position: Fullback

Age: 25

Kurtis Rowe. Picture: AAP Image
Kurtis Rowe. Picture: AAP Image

A former Australian Schoolboys and Junior Kiwis representative, Rowe has now accumulated 42 tries in 66 games for the Bears. More importantly, he is an instrumental figure in the side's backline movements, running testing angles that leave defenders uncertain and able to deliver the last pass for a try or use his agility to go himself.

 

24. Jake Marketo

Club: Townsville

Position: Second-row

Age: 30

Townsville Blackhawks forward Jake Marketo. Picture: Evan Morgan
Townsville Blackhawks forward Jake Marketo. Picture: Evan Morgan

Marketo put up 51 games for St George Illawarra between 2010 and 2017 and represented NSW City in that last season there. After a briefly taking up rugby union in Romania, Marketo linked with Townsville where he proved himself as one of the competition's most reliable 80-minute forwards.

 

25. Jack Ahearn

Club: Norths

Position: Fullback

Age: 26

Jack Ahearn in action for the Devils against Ipswich. Picture: AAP Image
Jack Ahearn in action for the Devils against Ipswich. Picture: AAP Image

Won the Devils' best and fairest in his first season at the club and again shapes as a key figure in 2019. A ball-playing fullback with an excellent support game, Ahearn came through the Canberra Raiders system.

 

26. Cheyne Whitelaw

Club: Tweed Heads

Position: Lock/prop

Age: 23

Cheyne Whitelaw. Picture: Richard Gosling
Cheyne Whitelaw. Picture: Richard Gosling

Whitelaw only managed 10 games in his maiden ISC season but what an impression he made. Tipping the scales at just 100kg, the workhorse averaged 32 tackles and 132 running metres before tearing his ACL in June. Is highly respected within the Tweed organisation.

 

27. Aaron Whitchurch

Club: Redcliffe

Position: Second-row/centre

Age: 26

Aaron Whitchurch. Picture: Jon Sloan
Aaron Whitchurch. Picture: Jon Sloan

Originally from Western Australia, Whitchurch is a second-generation Dolphin - his father Duncan also played for the club. At 97kg, he has transitioned from a try-scoring centre to a lightweight forward who presents an ever-present threat on the edge.

 

28. Gairo Kapana

Club: Papua New Guinea

Position: Wing

Age: 22

Kapana is one of the exciting names in a new-look Hunters list, having made the switch across from a rugby sevens career that included playing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He has the backing of coach Michael Marum: "He's strong and fast and has got the size to match big players in the ISC competition."

 

29. Jaelen Feeney

Club: Townsville

Position: Halfback

Age: 24

Jaelen Feeney. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Jaelen Feeney. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Feeney was meant to be one of Newcastle's next big things but it didn't quite work out and he joined Townsville after just 13 NRL opportunities in which he covered fullback, centres, the halves and hooker. He proved a livewire in the No.7 for the Blackhawks last year, scoring 15 tries and setting up another 12. After a knee injury late last season, Feeney is due back on deck mid-year.

 

30. Lamar Liolevave

Club: Tweed Heads

Position: Centre/second-row

Age: 23

Lamar Liolevave. Picture: SMP Images
Lamar Liolevave. Picture: SMP Images

The one-time Wests Tigers player has flown under the radar since joining the Seagulls two years ago but has been a consistently strong performer on the left edge. Tweed's coaching staff believe a shift to the centres this year will unlock even more performance in an ominous warning for rivals.

 

NOTE: Cameron Cullen (Redcliffe) wasn't considered due to a season-ending injury suffered last month, nor was Blake Leary (Burleigh) given he will miss the first half of the year while away playing in France.