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NRL Fans' Poll: Clearys named 2020's best player and coach

Penrith's stunning 2020 run has propelled Nathan and Ivan Cleary to being crowned the game's best player and coach by fans, who have also voted overwhelmingly for a player transfer window, an earlier grand final and rare praise for the referees.

The 2020 Fans' Poll, held in conjunction with The Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail, named Nathan Cleary a clear winner as the best player in the Telstra Premiership with 47% of the vote.

A year after being reunited with his son at Penrith, Ivan Cleary was the fans' choice as coach of the year ahead of Titans rookie Justin Holbrook, Craig Bellamy and Todd Payten.

Almost 15,000 fans voted across the past week, with Panthers quartet Stephen Crichton, Cleary, Viliame Kikau and Api Koroisau voted the best player in their positions.

Koroisau edging out Storm champion Cameron Smith for hooker of the year – with 34% of the vote against 29% - is a hefty endorsement of Penrith bringing him back from Manly, with the livewire Fijian also crowned the top recruit for 2020.

The fans expect Penrith's dominance to replicate the club's 1991 and 2003 minor premiership/title double, with 32% expecting the Panthers to go all the way.

Despite their 60-8 thrashing from South Sydney last week, the Roosters are still seen as Penrith's greatest threat with 26% of votes, while the Storm (22%) are the only other finalists to crack double figures.

Away from the paddock, more than 11,000 fans have voted for the grand final to be brought forward from its current evening time slot.

Panthers v Roosters - Qualifying final

An afternoon decider was the most popular option with those polled, attracting 43% of votes, while a twilight grand final (30%) was the next preferred option, followed by the current night-time fixture (25%).

The feedback comes after 79% of players surveyed in's 2020 Players Poll voted for an afternoon (43%) or twilight (36%) affair.

For the second year running almost two thirds of fans polled were in favour of an NRL transfer window being introduced.

Last summer the NRL ramped up discussions with the RLPA around changes to the game's contracting system and explored several transfer window systems, before the COVID-19 pandemic put those moves on the backburner.

A review of the contract system – with focus on the roles players and clubs play when contracts are broken – is set to be undertaken again this off-season. Players were 72% in favour of a transfer window in last year's poll.

Despite being heckled by supporters ad nauseam, referees were rated a three or four out of five by around two-thirds of fans while there was a big tick of approval for the move to one ref, the six-again rule and the captain's challenge innovations.

Moments that matter with Brett Kimmorley

Most fans (53%) want the Bunker used less while there is also widespread support for a five-minute sin bin (55%), an 18th player for injuries from foul play (81%) and new teams to be added to the Telstra Premiership (53%).

Another innovation the fans want to see is a stand-alone State of Origin period with mid-season (37%) preferred ahead of at the end of the year (35%) while the Blues are massive favourites to win in 2020 with less than 20% of fans predicting a Maroons triumph.

2020 NRL Fans Poll

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