Top 5 NRL fullbacks heading into the 2023 season

18 Feb 23, 10:25AM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

The fullback position is arguably experiencing a golden age currently with the number of quality players in the one as high as it has ever been.

Just about every team in the NRL has a number one to be proud of whether they are a star or a player who simply fits in well with their club.

However, there are still a few that sit at a level above the rest and are some of the best players in the NRL.


In the early stages of season 2022 Ryan Papenhuyzen was staking his claim for not only the best fullback in the world but the best player in the world.

Unfortunately, injury took its toll though as the 24-year-old fractured his kneecap in late July and is set to miss the beginning of this upcoming season as a result, but through sheer talent and ability alone Papenhuyzen is still a top-five fullback in the NRL and fans across the league hope we are still yet to see him at the peak of his powers.


Tom Trbojevic’s story is much the same as Ryan Papenhuyzen’s with both players possibly the two most dominant players in the NRL on their day but both riddled with injury.

Manly’s superstar does see himself above Papenhuyzen on this list, though, as we have seen him at his best in 2021 as Trbojevic was named the Dally M Player of the year.

In 2023 Trbojevic is under pressure though as another injury could see him lose the fullback role at Manly or even see him moved on from the club with Reuben Garrick impressing last season with Sea Eagles fans hoping that’s enough motivation for him to return to his best.


Heading into last season many fans still had their doubts about Latrell Mitchell as a world-class fullback but upon returning from America after a midseason injury he nearly single-handedly took the South Sydney Rabbitohs from being in danger of missing the top eight to the preliminary final.

Mitchell’s skill set and ability to perform in big moments also make him the NRL’s best fullback in terms of x-factor.


Since Penrith’s rise to prominence in 2020 Dylan Edwards has looked a far cry from the player that was dropped through poor form just one year earlier.

Edwards fits into his side’s system of play better than any other fullback in the league and plays his role to perfection by being a safe pair of hands at the back and consistently putting in the hard yards on both ends of the ball.

Last season Edwards topped the NRL in run metres per game across the season by making 223 metres on average which saw him come close to the Dally M Medal.


Simply put no fullback in the NRL today has consistently played at a high level for as long as 2019 Dally M Player of the year James Tedesco.

In a star-studded Roosters side he has remained one of the club’s best and is quite possibly still the best player in the NRL.

The fact that rising stars Joseph Manu and Joseph Suaalii have displayed such promise yet cannot get a start over Tedesco goes to show just how important he is.

While these players will be hard to match in 2023 there are plenty of fullbacks out there who have the potential to stand out this season and push up into the top five.

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