NSW Team of the Week | Round Eight

Tom Gibbs & Margie McDonald

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. James Tedesco. Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 16. TOTW selections: 2.

In a side that continues their search for attacking rhythm, Tedesco gave his best in Round Eight to amass 299 run metres from 25 carries with 105 via kick returns and 65 post-contact – just five days after surpassing the 300 mark against St George Illawarra.

On Saturday he also scored his second try of the season to move one shy of the century milestone, made one line-break and 11 tackle busts, and threw four offloads.

2. Nick Meaney. Club: Melbourne Storm. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

Meaney earns himself a second consecutive TOTW selection and has found a home in the Melbourne Storm’s back five during their unstoppable point-scoring run of the past few weeks.

He scored a 60th-minute try in Round Eight, along with a try assist, three line-breaks, eight tackle busts, one forced drop-out and 201 run metres including 51 post-contact.

3. Kotoni Staggs. Club: Brisbane Broncos. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

Staggs against Talakai was the matchup everyone was waiting for on Thursday night, and with the opening try in a Broncos win it was the former who came up trumps this time.

One of the handful of centres putting their hand up for a NSW debut in the coming weeks, Staggs also had one line-break and six tackle busts, ran for 116 metres and made 18 tackles.

4. Campbell Graham. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 2.

Another three-quarter on Brad Fittler’s radar, Graham had a strong outing on Friday night which included several key defensive stops against the returning Josh Schuster – a proven threat on the Sea Eagles’ left edge.

The Rabbitohs’ centre finished the match with a try assist and line-break assist, four tackle busts, 190 run metres with 78 post-contact, and 24 tackles.

5. Josh Addo-Carr (c). Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. SOO appearances: 12. TOTW selections: 2.

Going into a big clash against the Sydney Roosters in Round Eight, it always seemed Josh Addo-Carr’s try-scoring nous or electric speed was going to have some kind of impact if the Bulldogs were to claim a memorable victory.

That was certainly the case when the Fox scooted from dummy-half to open the scoring in the 13th minute, followed by an 85-metre intercept try moments later. He also recorded a line-break, five tackle busts and 163 run metres.

6. Cody Walker. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 4. TOTW selections: 1.

It was only fitting to see Walker return to some of his best form in the South Sydney five-eighth’s 150th NRL appearance.

He not only snaffled a late offload to score in the corner at the 50-minute mark against the Sea Eagles, but had a hand in two other tries, produced two line-break assists, had one line-break from 86 run metres, tallied 203 kick metres and made 21 tackles with no misses.

7. Nathan Cleary. Club: Penrith Panthers. SOO appearances: 10. TOTW selections: 2.

Just as the Penrith Panthers looked to be having an off night when they trailed 4-0 at halftime against the Titans, the crafty No.7 took it upon himself to pull his side out of the fire in the second half.

It started in the 43rd minute with a grubber for Izack Tago to score, before Cleary came up with a try of his own soon after. He put the icing on the cake at four minutes remaining with another grounded kick into the hands of Jarome Luai.

All those involvements came alongside three successful conversions for the evening, while Cleary also managed three tackle busts, 55 run metres and 590 metres off the boot with two forced drop-outs.

Alex Twal. Club: Wests Tigers. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.

With a work-rate like Twal produced it seems grossly unfair he was on the losing end of the scoreboard. Then take a look at his tackle efficiency in 2022 – 99.2 percent.

His 186 metres was only pipped for the most ground covered by Dragons centre Moses Suli – remembering Twal was on the field for 18 minutes less as an interchange forward. 

His 22 runs included 81 post-contact metres, four tackle-busts, and 32 tackles without missing one. A scan back through his previous games in the black, white and gold this year and he’s only missed a staggering two tackles in eight rounds.

Damien Cook. Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs. SOO appearances: 12. TOTW selections: 5.

He’s becoming a familiar sight in TOTW and that won’t be changing if keeps up these kinds of figures.

The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues hooker had 111 receipts for the Rabbitohs in their win over Manly Warringah on Friday night. His 95 metres from 12 runs included 77 metres from dummy-half – which is certainly this No.9’s trademark. Cook also had two line-break assists, one try-assist and four tackle-busts.

Payne Haas. Club: Brisbane Broncos. SOO appearances: 7. TOTW selections: 6.

Haas is another mainstay in the TOTW front row, and he’s been doing it recently carrying a left shoulder joint injury.

Again he was troubled by it when the Broncos upset the Sharks on Thursday night, but he still made 15 runs, 132 metres – 69 of those post-contact – and 26 tackles with no misses for his 54 minutes.

Ryan Matterson. Club: Parramatta Eels. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 3.

The tropical Darwin heat might have sapped some, but not Matterson. He made a game-high 210 metres from 21 runs while up against one of the experts in the business Jason Taumalolo (187).

Matterson produced 79 post-contact metres, made 30 tackles and busted out of two. His three offloads keeps the Eels’ second-phase play going, which is one of his many talents. The only sour note on a worthwhile night for him was the loss to the Cowboys.

Angus Crichton. Club: Sydney Roosters. SOO appearances: 9. selections: 1.

The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues incumbent has been lurking on the fringe TOTW selection but could not be overlooked after Saturday’s input against the Bulldogs – albeit coming away without a win.

In a sterling 80-minute effort Crichton made the most post-contact metres of anyone on the field with 80. Add on his 17 runs (135 metres), a line-break assist, two tackle busts, two offloads and 41 tackles (missing just one), and you can see why the 26-year-old makes his TOTW start this week.

Josh King. Club: Melbourne Storm. SOO appearances: 0. TOTW selections: 1.

Maybe it was facing his former club, or the fact he is excelling under the Storm’s tutelage, but King was indeed ‘royalty’ in Sunday’s pounding of the Newcastle Knights.

He topped all those on the park with 212 metres off 24 runs (53 post-contact) and was only on the field 63 minutes. King also rattled off 22 tackles and made no errors.

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