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: 2.
It was closely-fought opening half between the St George Illawarra Dragons and North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday, but once the game opened up Scott Drinkwater was amongst everything in his side’s 14th win this year.
He scored two tries and assisted one other, made two line-breaks and a line-break assists, had six tackle busts and ran for 170 metres.
2. Jacob Kiraz. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.
Kiraz has taken the hard road to earn his NRL debut, and 10 games later with a hattrick on the weekend the Lebanon international continues to prove why he belongs in the top grade.
As well the tries, Kiraz had three line-breaks and seven tackle busts, threw three offloads, ran for 259 metres with 59 post-contact and made six tackles without a miss.
3. Aaron Schoupp. Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.
Another youngster at the Bulldogs who’s really found some form in 2022, Schoupp has his first TOTW nomination after a strong display against the Knights.
The Thirroul Butchers product came up with a try, eight tackle busts, 223 run metres including 80 post-contact, and 10 tackles with just one missed.
4. Siosifa Talakai. Club: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. SOO appearances: 2. TOTW selections: 6.
Without the explosiveness we often see from someone of Talakai’s ilk, the Sharks’ centre was the best among both teams for metres gained – 231 with 110 post-contact – in their memorable win over the Rabbitohs.
He also had a line-break, eight tackle busts and as many tackles, only missing one.
5. Daniel Tupou. Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 10. TOTW selections: 3.
Tupou was one of the Roosters’ strongest in their tough encounter against a Sea Eagles who were more than up for the challenge.
The winger opened the scoring with a try in the eighth minute, made two line-breaks, had two tackle busts and ran for 208 metres including 72 post-contact.
6. Adam Doueihi. Club: Wests Tigers. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.
Now with two TOTW selections from three starts at five-eighth since returning in Round 15, it’s clear the pivot role is where Doueihi has the biggest impact for the Tigers.
In the upset win over the Broncos, Doueihi scored a try with a line-break, kicked five from five conversions and a penalty goal, had three tackle busts, totalled 320 kick metres with one repeat set, ran for 122 metres and made 30 tackles.
7. Nicho Hynes (c). Club: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 5.
Hynes has become quite the field goal exponent in 2022, slotting his fourth one-pointer of the season – the competition-leader on that front – to help his side to a Golden Point win.
He also produced a try assist and line-break assist, kicked four goals from four attempts, ran for 108 metres, tallied 327 metres off the boot, and made 19 tackles.
8. Tevita Tatola. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.
In the same vein as Cook, Tatola threw his body as well as his heart and soul into the Sharks game only to come out on the losing end. He made 30 tackles and missed none but that was only one highlight of his 46 minutes on the field.
Tatola was constantly in motion during that time, making 22 runs for 172 metres, a line-break and five tackle busts, and scoring a try to take the game to extra time.
9. Damien Cook. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 15. TOTW selections: 6.
Cook didn’t get the win over the Sharks but he was busy all over the field trying to make things happen – or more to the point stop things from happening. He made 52 tackles missing only two.
In attack Cook had a try assist, line-break assist, and an offload, and scooted out of dummy-half four times for 37 metres.
10. Payne Haas. Club: Brisbane Broncos. SOO appearances: 9. TOTW selections: 10.
The 22-year-old keeps powering on despite the Broncos snapping their three-match winning streak with a loss on Saturday night. Haas again had the most run metres – 198 – of either team, outpacing the Wests Tigers’ pack with his 19 hit-ups.
He busted out of four tackles and made a startling 102 post-contact metres in his 70 minutes on the field, which makes him one of the most durable as well as the hardest props to bring to ground.
11. Hudson Young. Club: Canberra Raiders. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.
At his best he’s such an energetic player with a great running game and support skills.
Young scored his seventh try from 17 games this year and set up two others for his teammates. Then throw in 15 runs for 118 metres, a line-break, line-break assist, five tackle busts, three offloads, 31 tackles and you’ve got a fairly potent performance.
12. Shaun Lane. Club: Parramatta Eels. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.
Lane earned back-to-back TOTW nominations with his tireless 37 tackles (no misses) to help contain the top-of-the table Panthers.
But he proved a slippery customer in attack with three offloads, four tackle busts, a line-break assist and 17 hit-ups for 171 metres.
13. Cameron McInnes. Club: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.
Perhaps it was playing his old club South Sydney, or the fact he earned a starting spot with the suspension of Dale Finucane, but McInnes was on fire with 21 runs for 151 metres along with two offloads.
He also pressured the Rabbitohs’ kickers all night and somehow found the energy for 55 tackles.