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NSW Team of the Week | Round 21

During the 2023 NRL season, selects the round’s best 13 of New South Wales eligible players. These selections are based on the writers' opinions and do not reflect the views of the NSWRL or the selection process for the Westpac NSW Blues. Captaincy is awarded based on that week's on-field performance and is not based on club captaincy or leadership qualities.

1. James Tedesco (c). Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 22. TOTW selections: 2.

The Roosters fullback was again back to his best over the weekend helping to return his side to the winner’s circle with an 18-point win over the Gold Coast. His efforts landed him the NSWRL Player of the Week.

Tedesco ran for 230 metres off 18 runs, scored a try while also setting up another two.

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2. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii. Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

Suaalii was another who helped guide the Roosters to an impressive win over the Titans on Saturday afternoon.

The winger scored a try, ran for 200 metres – 62 from kick returns – and kicked six conversions from seven attempts.

3. Kotoni Staggs. Club: Brisbane Broncos. SOO appearances: 1. TOTW selections: 4.

Another stellar performance from Staggs saw the centre record his third double of the season.

Along with those two tries he had three line-breaks, one try assist, nine tackle breaks and ran for over 171 metres off 16 runs. 

4. Bradman Best. Club: Newcastle Knights. SOO appearances: 1. TOTW selections: 3.

An impressive win over the Melbourne Storm sees the Knights sitting just one point out of the top eight – with Best playing an instrumental role in this late-season surge.

Best bagged a four-pointer, had a line-break along with two line-break assists, four tackle busts and a try assist.

5. Brian To’o. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 9. TOTW selections: 6.

A Brian To’o double has helped the reigning Premiers retain their spot on the top of the ladder for another week.

The winger has 15 runs for 251 metres, had 68 post-contact metres, two line-breaks, and 10 tackle busts.

6. Jarome Luai. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 7. TOTW selections: 2.

 Having a strong impact over Penrith’s 44-18 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Luai posed a threat for the entire 80 minutes.

The five-eighth was at his attacking best over the weekend setting up three tries, two line-break assists while kicking for over 127 metres.

7. Nathan Cleary. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 14. TOTW selections: 5.

After being sidelined for the last six weeks with a hamstring injury, Cleary made a seamless return to the field for his 150th game.

The halfback had two try assists, two line-break assists, two offloads and kicked 398 metres upon his return.

8. Payne Haas. Club: Brisbane Broncos. SOO appearances: 11. TOTW selections: 11.

Returning after two weeks out with an ankle injury, Haas seemed in little discomfort as he ploughed through 16 runs and 157 metres (53 post-contact) in the Broncos win over South Sydney.

He busted through three tackles, had an offload and made 31 tackles without missing any in his 61 minutes on the Sunshine Coast Stadium field.

9. Lachlan Croker. Club: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

Shaping up for his 100th NRL game this weekend, he had a memorable 99th in the 30-26 win over the Sharks before their home crowd scoring a try – his fifth for the year.

Croker is an essential part of Manly’s bid to get into the top-eight. He showed that versatility last Sunday with two line-break assists, a try assist, two tackle busts, defusing a kick, making 79 metres with two kicks of his own, and making 42 tackles to top his side’s defensive work rate.

10. Blake Lawrie. Club: St George Illawarra Dragons. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.

The determined go-forward each game of Lawrie has earned him his first TOTW nomination after he made 17 hit-ups and 153 metres in the win over the Wests Tigers.

He made 36 kick-return metres, only bettered by Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan (40m), along with 51 post-contact metres, an offload and 27 tackles in his 52 minutes at WIN Stadium.

11. Haumole Olakau’atu. Club: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 4

His five tackle busts against the Sharks took him to more than 50 for the season so far, along with his seventh try of the year.

He made 81 post-contact metres in his 174 for the day off 17 runs, alongside a line break, and 28 tackles without missing any.

12. Nat Butcher. Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

The Roosters workaholic second rower made 50 tackles in the run-away 36-18 win over the Gold Coast – the most of anyone on the field – missing just one.

That went alongside 11 runs for 125 metres (46 post-contact), two runs from dummy-half and scoring a try – his 20th for the club in 118 NRL games.

13. Isaah Yeo. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 11. TOTW selections: 7.

Continuing his theme in this year’s Origin series where he made 113 tackles in three games and missed none, he had another 43 against the Bulldogs on Sunday with another clean slate.

Yeo also had a line break, a line-break assist, three tackle busts, and off0load and 42 post-contact metres.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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