Following each week of the NRL season, NSWRL.com.au selects the round’s best 13 of New South Wales eligible players. These selections are based on the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSWRL or the selection process for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues. Captaincy is awarded based on that week's on-field performance and is not based on club captaincy or leadership qualities.
1. Dylan Edwards
Club – Penrith Panthers; SOO apps – 0; TOTW selections – 1
In the season opener it was the Penrith spine who needed to stand up in the absence of Nathan Cleary, and Edwards certainly got the assignment by posting arguably his career-best performance on the way to a 28-6 victory over Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
The Panthers’ fullback chalked up a massive 344 run metres including 105 post-contact and 181 from kick returns, made one line-break and five tackle busts, and threw two offloads.
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2. Sean Russell
Club – Parramatta Eels; SOO apps – 0; TOTW selections – 1
With long term injuries to the likes of Maika Sivo and Haze Dunster, Parramatta Eels’ Sean Russell earned the Round 1 call-up on the wing and wasted no time in making the most of the opportunity.
In just 34 minutes before suffering a rib injury during the act of scoring, the 19-year-old from Windsor crossed for a hat-trick of tries, made two line-breaks and ran for 67 metres.
3. Brian Kelly
Club – Gold Coast Titans; SOO apps – 0; TOTW selections – 1
Kelly was another beneficiary of the 60-point attacking showdown between Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans on Sunday afternoon, scoring two four-pointers in the first half on the back of some enterprising play from the visiting side.
The Gold Coast centre also recorded two line-breaks, ran for 114 metres and made 11 tackles.
4. Stephen Crichton
Club – Penrith Panthers; SOO apps – 0; TOTW selections – 1
Crichton was a constant danger with ball-in-hand against Manly Warringah’s left edge defence on Thursday night at BlueBet Stadium.
After crossing for a would-be try that was disallowed early on, the Penrith No. 4 went on to score in the 29th minute, kicked four goals, had one line-break and five tackle busts, ran for 149 metres including 56 post-contact, and made 11 tackles.
5. Brian To’o
Club – Penrith Panthers; SOO apps – 3; TOTW selections – 1
While he may not have ended up on the scoresheet in the first match of the 2022 season, To’o was at his damaging best right from the off, ensuring Penrith remained on the front foot for the full 80 minutes.
In the Panthers’ Round 1 clash, To’o tallied a huge 176 run metres including 79 post-contact from 19 runs, made three tackle busts and four tackles with zero missed.
6. Jack Wighton
Club – Canberra Raiders; SOO apps – 9; TOTW selections – 1
It was clear within the opening minutes of Canberra Raiders’ Friday night matchup with the Sharks that Wighton was relishing his return to GIO Stadium.
In Canberra’s 24-19 win the five-eighth kicked off proceedings with a try, had one line-break assist and four tackle busts, ran for 148 metres, forced one dropout, totalled 221 kick metres and made 19 tackles.
7. Mitchell Moses
Club – Parramatta Eels; SOO apps – 1; TOTW selections – 1
Moses steered the Parramatta Eels well against Gold Coast Titans in what was a chaotic contest between both sides.
Along with his three try assists, two line-break assists and 191 kick metres, Moses tallied six from eight off the boot including two late penalty goals to get the Eels over the line in Round 1.
8. Junior Paulo
Club – Parramatta Eels; SOO apps – 6; TOTW selections – 1
Paulo did everything right in the middle of the park on Sunday, maintaining a huge work-rate in two stints even without his signature offload coming into play.
From 54 minutes played, the six-time Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues prop ran for 160 metres including 81 form kick returns, and made 23 tackles.
9. Damien Cook
Club – South Sydney Rabbitohs; SOO apps – 12; TOTW selections – 1
It’s hard to go past Damien Cook as one of the best in a losing side against Brisbane Broncos on Friday, showing glimpses of his vintage speed on several occasions as he tried to get the Rabbitohs out of trouble.
The opening round clash saw Cook run for 120 metres, have three tackle busts and make 42 tackles with just two missed.
10. Payne Haas (c)
Club – Brisbane Broncos; SOO apps – 7; TOTW selections – 1
Wearing the captain’s armband to kick off NSW Team of the Week for 2022, Haas played a huge 70 minutes in the front row and set the tone for Brisbane’s 11-4 boilover against last season’s runner-up the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
In that time the 22-year-old prop ran for 187 metres including 82 post-contact, made three tackle busts, threw four offloads and amassed 45 tackles with only one missed.
11. Tyson Frizell
Club – Newcastle Knights; SOO apps – 14; TOTW selections – 1
Frizell played a key role on the edge for Newcastle in keeping the Sydney Roosters to just one try in Saturday’s win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The backrower ran for 147 metres including 71 post-contact, had five tackle busts and made 37 tackles with zero missed.
12. Hudson Young
Club – Canberra Raiders; SOO apps – 0; TOTW selections – 1
Young scored a memorable match-winner to secure the Raiders a Round 1 victory over the Sharks, but there was plenty more where that came from in a strong 80 minute performance.
13. Isaah Yeo
Club – Penrith Panthers; SOO apps – 5; TOTW selections – 1
Yeo proved to be the calming influence for Penrith and reinforced his importance to the Panthers’ attack without their Clive Churchill Medal winning half in Round 1.
The lock forward ran for 181 metres including 72 post-contact, had three tackle busts, threw three offloads and made 38 tackles without missing.