Each week of the NRL season, the NSWRL.com.au staff writers will have their say on the round's best performing New South Welshmen. These are based entirely 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.
Ryan Papenhuyzen was rewarded for his consistent form in the fullback role by reaching the rare milestone of 300 run metres for the first time in his young career. His Round 25 performance also included 73 post-contact metres, one line-break and five tackle-breaks.
Nick Meaney has been a first-grade staple in the Bulldogs’ outside backs since his move from the Newcastle Knights, and proved his worth again with a hat-trick of tries against the Broncos. He also recorded two line-breaks, four tackle-breaks and 5/6 goals for an individual tally of 22 points.
Despite a disappointing loss for Anthony Seibold’s men before their finals campaign, Kotoni Staggs proved hard to handle for his opposition. The Broncos’ centre scored a brace of tries and ran for 175 metres with one line-break and eight tackle-breaks.
Euan Aitken was solid at right centre as the Dragons finished their season on a high note with victory over the Titans. The Scottish International ran for 127 metres with a try-assist, one line-break, eight tackle-breaks and three offloads, and made 26 tackles for zero misses.
Even though he was unavailable for the entirety of the second half, Brian To’o still managed to make his mark in Penrith’s 44-point defeat of the Knights. Along 130 run metres and one line-break, To’o produced one of the best four-pointers of the match by breaking six would-be tackles on his way to the try line.
When South Sydney were looking for a spark after a physically demanding opening half against the Roosters, it was none other than Cody Walker who turned up in support to score the match-winning try. He made two tackle-breaks and a solid 13 tackles.
Nathan Cleary was undoubtedly the best on field for Penrith in Round 25 on his way to a huge 30-point haul. Cleary’s points total was courtesy of four tries and 9/9 conversions, along with one try-assist, three line-breaks, nine tackle-breaks and 143 run metres.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard put on a very strong display from just 39 minutes off the bench for Penrith’s final home game of the season. The former New South Wales and Australian representative ran for 174 metres including 57 post-contact with four tackle-breaks, and made 23 tackles.
Wayde Egan finds himself in his first NSW Team of the Week after playing a key role out of dummy half in Penrith’s big win on Sunday. Egan scored a try with two try-assists and two line-break assists, and made 34 tackles.
Payne Haas finished off the regular season in usual style with an unmatched work-rate in the front row. In Round 25 against the Bulldogs, the Rookie of the Year favourite produced 234 run metres including 113 post-contact, six tackle-breaks and 48 tackles for just one miss.
Josh Jackson’s position in the Round 25 NSW Team of the Week is yet another reflection of the Bulldogs’ outstanding run of form to round out the 2019 season. The Canterbury-Bankstown captain scored a well-earned try, along with 138 run metres including 53 post-contact, four tackle-breaks and 44 tackles.
Luke Garner was a standout on the field for the Wests Tigers in the do-or-die clash on Sunday make to make the NRL finals. Despite the loss, Garner was the only try-scorer for his team and made one line-break and five tackle-breaks.
As the Rabbitohs were quickly losing players through injury late in the second half on Thursday night, Wayne Bennett made a defensive masterstroke by moving Cameron Murray to left centre. Marking up against Joseph Manu, who had a major hand in both Roosters’ first-half tries, Murray gave him no room to move as the 12-man South Sydney held on for a memorable victory. Murray’s performance was topped off with a well-executed tackle to force a Billy Smith error and seal the win.
Will Hopoate was back in the Bulldogs’ No. 1 jersey in the absence of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, and he was one of their best in a 30-14 win. Hopoate ran for 180 metres with two try-assists, one line-break assist and four tackle-breaks.
The veteran prop has earned a spot in the Round 25 NSW Team of the Week after a stellar performance for the Panthers. Tamou recorded one try-assist, one line-break, two tackle-breaks, one forced drop-out and 24 tackles.
Prop Paul Vaughan topped his team in running metres, 157, in the Dragons last game for the season. He also topped the red and white squad with 66 post-contact metres, sealing a strong end to 2019.
In what could have been his last game in the NRL, Paul Gallen made sure to perform on-field and push his Cronulla side to the finals. The lock managed to ace his first field goal and ran for 80 metres despite only playing for 46 minutes.