The list: NRL's best 2015 rookies

THE spotlight has been on some of the game's biggest names in recent weeks with Cameron Smith (300), Paul Gallen (250), Luke Lewis (250) and Jamie Lyon (200) all bringing up significant milestones.

But a host of young guns have also made their mark this season, suggesting they could one day follow in the footsteps of some of rugby league's champion players.

We've run our eye over the class of 2015 to come up with six of the best, with Sharks sensation Jack Bird getting top honours.

Jack Bird

(Five-eighth - Sharks): Is off contract at the end of the season and it is no surprise a number of clubs are ready to pounce if Cronulla does not secure the freakishly gifted 20-year-old. Almost single-handedly delivered Cronulla an upset victory over the Roosters in round two, and booted the winning field goal against the Titans in round 10.

Solomone Kata

(Centre - Warriors): The outside back has been outstanding for the New Zealand side this year, scoring 11 tries in 17 games. Also has the third-most running metres at the club this year with 1992m. Well deserved selection in the Tonga team earlier in the season.

Kane Elgey

(Halfback - Titans): For a rookie, he has shown great composure steering his struggling team around the park this year, after a sensational year in the under-20s. The Titans have been 5-5 in the 10 games he's played this year, winning just once from four games after he injured his ankle against the Tigers in round 13.

Kodi Nikorima

(Utility - Broncos): Seems to have the whole package - boundless energy, pace, skill, vision and toughness. His energy late in the game off the bench got the Broncos home against the Panthers in round nine when they won a thriller 8-5. Was 18th man for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test against Australia and the Broncos were thrilled to re-sign him for next year.

Shaun Lane

(Back row - Bulldogs): Don't be fooled by this baby-faced 20-year-old. He is a future Origin star - is big and strong, and has been a real weapon off the bench with two tries in five games. Had a blinder in Canterbury's win over Melbourne in round 16 with a try, made 167m, a line break, two offloads and 32 tackles. Watch this space.

Aaron Gray

(Wing - Rabbitohs): The 21-year-old has proven to be reliable finisher on the wing for South Sydney, with seven tries in 10 encounters, including key doubles in victories over the Dragons, Eels and Sea Eagles.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Euan Aitken

(Centre - Dragons): Do the Dragons have their long-term answer to their centre woes since the retirement of club champions Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper? Aitken, just 20, has enjoyed a consistent season, averaging 134m a game over his 15 appearances.



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