April is expectedly off to an exciting start down under. Both Melbourne Storm and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks maintained didn’t concede in their wins over the Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs and Newcastle Knights.
Sydney Roosters bounced back with an emphatic win over North Queensland Cowboys shortly after Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles claimed their first win of 2022 against Canberra Raiders. New Zealand Warriors fans were happy too as they battled past Brisbane Broncos.
Parramatta Eels meanwhile produced a superb second half to down St George Illawarra Dragons, Gold Coast Titans edged the winless Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers won the unofficial Grand Final replay against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Full-back: Ryan Papenhuyzen
An easy choice. Ryan Papenhuyzen claimed four tries in Melbourne’s 44-0 win over Canterbury. He also provided a try assist for good measure as well as three tackle busts and 188 metres from 15 carries, demonstrating why he remains an important figure for Craig Bellamy’s side.
Wingers: Ronaldo Mulitalo & Taylan May
Mulitalo provided two try assists as the Sharks claimed their third straight win by blanking the Knights. He also managed six tackle busts as well as a staggering 239 metres from 24 carries. May also got through some hard graft for Penrith, scoring two tries as well as amassing 204 metres from 20 carries as well as four busts.
Centres: Siosifa Talakai & Joseph Manu
At centre Siosifa Talakai is joined by Sydney Roosters’ Joseph Manu. Talakai was a try scorer but his stand out statistics saw him tally 223 metres with ball in hand as well as 17 tackle busts. As for Manu, he scored two tries and provided as many assists as the Roosters dealt the Cowboys a serious reality check. He also managed 14 tackles, five busts and 87 metres as he once more played an important role.
Stand-off: Dylan Brown
An easier choice than others at six, Dylan Brown is named at stand-off. Brown was a star performer for the Parramatta Eels as the blue and yellows produced some champagne rugby league against the Dragons. He scored a try, provided an assist, put in 26 tackles, five busts and 162 metres from 18 carries.
Scrum-half: Mitchell Moses
Joining him in the half-back pairing is his team mate Mitchell Moses. Moses scored 28 of his side’s 48 points, put in 15 tackles, as many kicks and 105 metres from 13 carries. He has been a State of Origin hopeful in recent seasons and could very well push Nathan Cleary for the Blues’ seven shirt.
Props: Addin Fonua-Blake & Payne Haas
Fonua-Blake put in some hard graft for the Warriors; putting in 26 tackles as well as 196 metres from 18 carries. Meanwhile, Haas may have been on the losing side for the Broncos but his 45 tackles, six busts and 176 metres from 19 carries are a clear demonstration he did not deserve to lose.
Hooker: Harry Grant
Harry Grant is proving to be a valuable asset for the former champions, a reliable ‘replacement’ for last season’s Dally M hooker Brandon Smith. Here, he managed two try assists, 36 tackles, four busts and 75 metres from 11 carries, helping the Storm remain in full control throughout the contest.
Second-rowers: Briton Nikora & Haumole Olakau’atu
Another tough one but Briton Nikora is the fourth Sharks player named joined by Haumole Olakau’atu from the Sea Eagles. Nikora put in 42 tackles, assisting in the Sharks in keeping their line intact. He also registered 157 metres from 15 carries. Olakau’atu scored a try and provided an assist for the Sea Eagles as well as notching 25 tackles.
Loose-forward: Victor Radley
Victor Radley scored a try for the Roosters as well as putting in 37 tackles, four busts and 163 metres from 19 carries. Easily one of the Roosters’ star performers as they well and truly caught the Cowboys off guard and sent a clear message that they want their NRL title back.