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. Scott Drinkwater. Club: North Queensland Cowboys. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.
The Cowboys have now won eight from their previous 10 matches in 2022, and Scott Drinkwater at fullback throughout that time has been a revelation for the men from the North. That form continued on the weekend.
He came up with the opening try and set up another, had five tackle busts, threw two offloads, and ran for 182 metres with 56 post-contact and 63 from kick returns.
2. Brian To’o. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 4. TOTW selections: 3.
To’o was back to his try-scoring best just days after a 207-metre effort from 25 carries in Origin I.
In Penrith’s win over Newcastle, on top of a game-high 268 run metres including 81 post-contact, the stocky winger scored a double with two line-breaks, and made 11 tackle busts – also the most on the park in Sunday’s clash.
3. Siosifa Talakai. Club: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 5.
Talakai’s damaging exploits with ball in hand came back to the fore again in Round 14, this time against the Warriors on Sunday afternoon.
He scored the Sharks’ second try of the contest, had a line-break and four tackle busts, ran for 218 metres including 89 post-contact, and made 10 tackles with zero missed.
4. Campbell Graham. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.
Graham has been ultra-consistent in the South Sydney backline of late, and in the last fortnight he’s played a key role on the left edge for the Rabbitohs.
Against the Titans the trusty centre produced a try assist, line-break and line-break assist, had four tackle busts, ran for 210 metres with 75 post-contact, and made 19 tackles without a miss.
5. Josh Addo-Carr. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 12. TOTW selections: 3.
The man affectionately known as ‘Foxx’ was the star of the show in Canterbury-Bankstown’s 34-6 upset win over Parramatta, scoring his first hat-trick for his new club on Monday night at Accor Stadium.
Addo-Carr also managed a line-break, busted out of five tackles and ran for 197 metres.
6. Matt Burton. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.
The Bulldogs’ prized recruit had his best performance in the blue and white jersey when Mick Potter’s side ran riot against the Eels.
Burton assisted three of his side’s six for the match, converted five from six off the boot and made 25 tackles. His kicking game was spot on throughout the 80 minutes, earning him a total 618 metres.
7. Nathan Cleary (c). Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 11. TOTW selections: 4.
With questions over whether he’d back up from a tough night in Origin I, Cleary performed brilliantly in his return for the Panthers.
He opened the scoring against Newcastle off the back of some Jarome Luai magic, had a try assist and two line-break assists, slotted seven from eight shots at goal, and amassed a huge 746 kick metres – his career-high for a single game.
8. Jordan McLean. Club: North Queensland Cowboys. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW appearances: 1.
The Cowboys’ front-rower has flown under the radar as North Queensland remain well on track for a top four finish.
One of the key men in the engine room, McLean ran for 144 metres with 77 post-contact from 12 carries, had two tackle busts and made 18 tackles – all from 55 minutes played.
9. Reece Robson. Club: North Queensland Cowboys. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW: 3.
One of the reasons the Cowboys haven’t lost since Round Five is the work-rate of hooker Reece Robson, who was at it again in the 31-12 win over the Dragons.
He compiled 120 metres at hooker, making eight of his nine runs from dummy-half, along with 50 tackles and missing just two. Robson made no handling errors in his 100 receipts and also scored one of the Cowboys five tries – his third for the year.
10. Paul Vaughan. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 6. TOTW selections: 1.
Such a big win by the Bulldogs needed some substantial work done in the engine room, and Vaughan obliged willingly.
The True Blue laid down a quality 49 minutes, highlighted by 76 post-contact metres. His totalled 158 metres off 15 runs as he continually ploughed through the middle. He also made 22 tackles.
11. Haumole Olakau’atu. Club: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.
A member of the Future Blues squad in December last year, Olakau’atu continues his impressive progress in just his fourth NRL season.
He now has seven tries from 12 games so far in 2022 and against the West Tigers was a dynamo in attack, busting through 12 tackles and making three line-breaks. He made 17 runs for 179 metres and did all of that in 68 minutes.
12. Keaon Koloamatangi. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.
He played all 80 minutes and got through 41 tackles alongside 165 metres off 17 runs.
Koloamatangi continually proves to be a hard man to bring down on South Sydney’s right edge, after he burst through three tackles and dragged defenders 74 metres post-contact. He also had the most receipts of any Rabbitohs forward with 21.
13. Max King. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.
King has been a real find for the Bulldogs since coming to Canterbury-Bankstown from the Melbourne Storm.
He was hard to overlook for his TOTW debut off the back of 39 tackles and no misses in the Bulldogs 34-4 upset of Parramatta. King was all effort in his 58 minutes in the middle with 17 runs and 172 metres – 77 of those post-contact – along with an off-load and one of the quickest play-the-balls in the side (2.99 seconds).