Darius Boyd, Ben Hunt and Jake Trbojevic.
Darius Boyd, Ben Hunt and Jake Trbojevic.

Ironmen: NRL’s team of tackling machines

AS the old saying goes defence wins premierships. Just ask the Roosters who were the best defensive team in 2018 and went on to win the title.

The NRL is full of tireless defenders who put their body on the line week in and week out.

From the first placed Roosters' skipper Jake Friend to the last-placed Eels' centre Michael Jennings these were the defenders that stood above the rest in their position for tackles made.

1. Darius Boyd (182)

He may have played some of the season at centre, but the Broncos' skipper finished the season with the most tackles by a fullback, with 71 more than the second-placed custodian James Tedesco (111). Boyd missed a total of 24 tackles for the season.

2. Campbell Graham (106)

The 19-year-old Rabbitohs youngster made the most tackles by a winger and finished with 11 more than second-placed winger Suliasi Vunivalu. Graham only missed 18 tackles for the season.

3. Michael Jennings (369)

The Eels' veteran finished with the most tackles by a centre for 2018, with eight more than Dane Gagai, but he also missed 48 for the last-placed Parramatta side.

4. Dane Gagai (361)

Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles

The Rabbitohs centre had the second most tackles by a centre behind Michael Jennings and made 46 more tackles than third-placed Dragons centre Euan Aitken (315). However Gagai missed a whopping 76 tackles for the season, the sixth most in the competition.

5. Suliasi Vunivalu (97)

The Storm winger made the second most tackles by a winger behind Campbell Graham and had one more tackle than the third-placed Tigers' winger Corey Thompson (96). However Vunivalu did miss 31 tackles.

6. Cameron Munster (435)

The Storm star made the most tackles by a starting five-eighth finishing ahead of second-placed Rabbitohs pivot Cody Walker (431). Munster missed 65 tackles to Walker's 51 misses.

7. Ben Hunt (402)

The Dragons halfback made the most tackles of any halfback in 2018, one more than Daly Cherry-Evans (401). However he was clearly targeted in defence, missing the second most tackles in the NRL, with 100 missed tackles to DCE's 51.

8. Herman Ese'ese (662)

The Knights prop made the second most tackles by a prop behind Ryan James and boy did he have to, with Newcastle one of the worst defensive sides in the competition. Ese'ese missed 38 tackles for the year.

9. Jake Friend (1,148)


The Roosters skipper finished with the most tackles by any player in the NRL in season 2018, with 168 more than second-placed Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes (980). Friend missed 56 tackles to McInnes' 33.

10. Ryan James (783)

The Titans skipper made the most tackles by any prop in the NRL and finished a whopping 101 tackles ahead of second-placed Knights front-rower Herman Ese'ese. However James also missed 65 tackles.

12. Josh Jackson (779)

Bulldogs v Roosters
Bulldogs v Roosters

The Bulldogs skipper led from the front in 2018 making the most tackles by a second-rower ahead of Angus Crichton. Jackson missed 50 tackles for the season for the struggling Canterbury team.

11. Angus Crichton (765)

The Roosters' bound second-rower made the second most tackles for his position behind Josh Jackson. Crichton missed a total of 44 tackles for the season.

13. Jake Trbojevic (897)

The Manly workhorse finished with the most tackles by a lock, with a massive 138 more than Panthers' star James Fisher-Harris (749). The older Trbojevic missed 34 tackles for the season.