Your Edge – A Closer Look At The Highest Paid NRL Players In 2022

Your Edge – A Closer Look At The Highest Paid NRL Players In 2022

Round 23 of the 2022 NRL season is here and so is Your Edge. This week we’re looking into some of the key players on club-friendly deals that look set to have a big impact on finals footy.

The Daily Telegraph released their list of Top 100 paid players during the week. While player salaries are mostly unknown and the numbers listed should be taken with a grain of salt, they do highlight a handful of players that are giving their premiership contending teams bang for their buck.

Bargain Halves

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have exceeded expectations to be 3rd on the NRL ladder after 22 rounds. Craig Fitzgibbon’s arrival as coach has turned the Sharks into one of the best-attacking teams in the competition with their slingshot approach to the edges proving hard to handle. Matt Moylan finding form after a few unhappy seasons has also helped. However, it’s Nicho Hynes that puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together.

He orders the team around the field with his voice and hands. Only Jackson Hastings and Ben Hunt touch the ball more per game than Hynes (excluding hookers). And while his individual tally of tries (4) and try assists (12) don’t jump off the page like they do for say, Cody Walker (11 tries) and Michell Moses (20 try assists), Hynes leads the NRL in linebreak assists with 19 for the season.


Touches per Game – Excluding Hookers

Most encouraging for the Sharks is Hynes still has a lot of room to improve. He is still learning when to inject himself, often starting to run and pulling up when the opportunity isn’t there. Still, his organisation and on-ball influence has been a key factor to the Sharks’ successful season to date. Reportedly on $600,000 a year, the Sharks are getting a bargain here.

Adam Reynolds is pulling in a considerable amount more at the Brisbane Broncos ($800,000). However, he has had more of an influence than even the most optimistic Broncos and Reynolds fans expected before Round 1.

Everyone knew Reynolds would turn up and take control of the team. This is a squad that has lacked leadership in recent years and Reynolds’ expertise in that area is what made him an appealing fit. The surprise has come in his ability to put up the numbers in areas he hasn’t always been prolific.

Reynolds managed a combined 15 try assists across the 2020 and 2021 NRL seasons. This year, he has 18 try assists in 17 games to average over 1.5 try and linebreak assists per game. While he’s running for fewer metres than the career-high 67 metres per game he finished up with last season, he’s more damaging in the 51 running metres he averages this year. The 32-year-old broke 25 tackles and threw nine offloads in 25 games in 2021. In 2022, however, he has broken 24 tackles and thrown nine offloads in only 17 games.

Adam Reynolds 2019-2022

The Broncos haven’t only signed up their on-ball leader and halfback, but a player that is thriving with more responsibility in finishing off the try-scoring actions to be alongside the likes of Hynes, Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker when it comes to attacking involvements.

Attacking Involvements – Halves

Both Hynes and Reynolds will be tasked with leading their teams through September. For Hynes and the Sharks, the test will be in playing the top teams every week after being on the end of a rather friendly draw this season. Meanwhile, Reynolds is fronting a playing group that hasn’t tasted finals footy for a long time. Both have played well throughout the 2022 NRL season, but their best still needs to come if the Sharks or Broncos are to reach the big one.

Latrell #1

Plenty of doubters followed Latrell Mitchell into the fullback jersey when he made the switch from the centres. All of the usual tropes led the headlines as he struggled to adjust throughout his early matches. However, now into his third NRL season in the #1 jersey, there is little doubt that Mitchell is one of the best fullbacks in the game and worth every penny of his apparent $850,000 contract.

His bounce back from another long-term injury has been incredible this season. It’s not a coincidence that the form of the South Sydney Rabbitohs skyrocketed upon his return. He isn’t scoring at the same rate he did to start last season but is on track to set a new career high in try assists (14 in 2021) with 12 already in only 11 games this season.

Latrell Mitchell 2020-2022

There are some things in footy you can’t measure with numbers. The attention Mitchell holds on a defensive line – the gravity – is one of those things. If he is in the area when the Rabbitohs look left or right, the edge defenders are tracking him the whole way. South Sydney have scored 47% of their tries down the left edge this season according to Stats Insider. Only the Panthers have scored more than the Rabbitohs’ 46 in total. Still, NRL defences are no closer to solving these shifts on a regular basis and Mitchell’s presence and execution are a significant part of that.

As he continues to work his way back from injury and look more and more comfortable every week, Mitchell could yet produce the sort of form that leads to another Grand Final appearance.

Mr. Fix It

Trent Robinson has taken a little bit longer than most expected to get this Roosters team humming. They’ve now won five on the bounce to firm for a finals spot at 8th on the NRL ladder and are considered the form team of the competition. A spot in the finals isn’t yet locked in, but there are already mentions of the Roosters being the biggest threat to Penrith’s premiership push. Joseph Manu will play a big role regardless. It won’t matter where he plays either, the numbers pile up.

20 games
10 tries
12 try assists
13 linebreaks
121 tackle breaks

He’s played in the centres where he is the undisputed best player at the position right now. Due to injuries, Manu has been forced to play fullback and five-eighth throughout the year. You could argue he fits into the Top 10 in both of those positions, too. At a reported $720,000, the Roosters are paying unders for one of the most versatile and devastating players in the NRL.


Running Metres v Attacking Involvements – 2022

Injuries can often define a season for NRL clubs. If any key playmakers in the Top 8 go down and are ruled out for the season, their hopes of lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy are instantly dashed. The Roosters, on the other hand, can plug a hole in the centres and move Manu into either fullback or five-eighth. Their hopes will suffer a dent, but Manu’s experience and form across multiple positions this season would keep them in the hunt.

He hasn’t always received the credit he deserved. Manu has spent years playing well but in the shadows of some of the biggest names in the game. Now, Manu is making a name for himself and can be a key contributor in what would be a Cinderella run through September.

NRL Value Plays

The Punters Preview and NRL Draftstars Stats Bible is in for Round 23.

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