Season review: Jake Clifford

Jake Clifford entered the 2018 season as one of the brightest prospects in rugby league and finished it as Johnathan Thurston's regular halves partner for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.

The 20-year-old began the season playing halfback for the Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup and was on track to finish as the competition's leading point scorer, but those plans were derailed by an NRL call-up late in the season.

Clifford made his first grade debut in Round 19 against St George Illawarra, partnering Thurston in the halves with regular five-eighth Te Maire Martin moving to fullback.

The Tully-product played the ensuing six games, with the highlight being his three try assist performance in Thurston's final game at 1300SMILES Stadium against Parramatta in Round 24.

Despite playing just 16 games, Clifford was named a finalist for the Queensland Cup Player of the Year Award and claimed the competition's Rookie of the Year gong.

He was also named Cowboys Rookie of the Year and nabbed man of the match honours in Queensland's under 20s State of Origin victory over NSW.

After signing a two-year contract extension in April, Clifford will look to lock down a permanent position in the halves in 2019.

2018 stats:

Games: 6
Try assists: 3
Line-break assists: 2
Average run metres: 60
Average kick metres: 149