Hodgson NRL Players’ Champion favourite

Josh Hodgson’s wretched week is set to ease with the odds strong of him being named rugby league’s Players’ Champion.

Hodgson is likely to sit out Canberra’s sudden death semi-final against Penrith this weekend due to an ankle injury.

But the hooker’s stunning year will be rewarded on Tuesday night if voted the NRL’s best by his peers at the Rugby League Players’ Association Awards.

The RLPA has put forward a list of 20 contenders.

And while suspension might have cruelled Hodgson’s Dally M chances, he is considered the leading contender to be honoured as Players’ Champion.

Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, James Tedesco and Matt Moylan are among those likely to challenge him for what many believe is the NRL’s highest individual honour.

Thurston is the current holder of the award, formerly known as the Players’ Player, and is gunning for the title for a fifth time.

As the RLPA continues to grow in prominence and influence, CEO Ian Prendergast moved to have the award named the Players’ Champion for the first time this year and for the night to be a regular event on the NRL calendar.

The winner will be announced at a black tie (with sneakers) event at the Star Casino on Tuesday night.

“It is the highest accolade in the game, an award voted on by your peers,” Prendergast told AAP on Monday.

“We want to deliver an event that shows how important this award is to the players and to the game.

“It is a true reflection of who is the best performer on a week-to-week basis in the NRL.”

Players vote on the best performed opposition player after every game over the 26 NRL rounds.

The RLPA Rookie of the Year award will also be handed out.

Bevan French, Daniel Saifiti, Nathan Cleary, Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Ash Taylor are the contenders.

The Australian representative men’s and women’s player of the year will also be named as will New Zealand’s. A Rest of the World representative player of the year will also be awarded.

Top 20 contenders for the Players’ Champion: Matt Moylan, James Tedesco, Sam Burgess, James Maloney, Tom Trbojevic, Jason Taumalolo, Dane Gagai, Greg Bird, Semi Radradra, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Josh Mansour, Johnathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson, James Graham, Greg Inglis, Mitchell Moses, Tyson Frizell, Anthony Milford, Joey Leilua, Cameron Smith.

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