1 – Brad Abbey (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Nineteen-year-old Abbey was understandably overlooked as Brett Morris’s Bulldogs replacement in favour NSW VB Blues representative Will Hopoate, but in the meantime he has the chance to make the Intrust Super Premiership position his own. With a number of solid kick returns, the former New Zealand Warriors star performed admirably in the draw with Newtown.
2 – Josh Addo-Carr (Wests Tigers)
There was much hype surrounding 20-year-old winger and fullback Addo-Carr when he was signed to the Wests Tigers for this year and he certainly lived up to expectation in Round 1. The lifelong Tigers fan bagged a double in his club debut, including one spectacular chip-and-chase effort. NSWRL.com.au caught up with the speedster on his NRL prospects here.
3 – Brenko Lee (Mounties)
It’s scary to think that Lee, the burly centre who made his NRL debut in 2014, is still only 20 years old. A couple of big runs proved integral to the course of Mounties’ victory over the Panthers, including a stunning individual try and an effort to draw a penalty minutes before halftime.
4 – Ed Murphy (North Sydney Bears)
With his side down 12-0 at half-time and on the end of some hard-hitting Newcastle Knights defence, North Sydney Bears centre and captain Murphy lifted his team to kick off an outstanding comeback against the 2015 premiers. After setting up the Bears’ first try, the skipper went over himself in the second half to put the result beyond doubt, completing a fine captain’s knock.
5 – Bureta Faraimo (Wentworthville Magpies)
In a Wentworthville Magpies side full of impressive outside backs, Faraimo was the standout; the right-side winger was solid in both attack and defence, scoring the Magpies’ third try in the shadows of half-time. It set up the result at Ringrose Park as 2015 wooden-spooners Wentworthville completed an unexpected victory over that year’s Grand Finalists.
6 – Mitch Cornish (Captain – Wentworthville Magpies)
NSWRL.com.au has named Cornish as captain of Round 1’s Team of the Week, with two all-important try assists in his club debut for the Magpies. Cornish looked in total control throughout the contest and while the Eels will likely boast their full-strength halves combination for Round 2, an ongoing injury cloud may give Cornish an opportunity at some point.
7 – Josh Drinkwater (Wests Tigers)
Drinkwater put on a masterclass to set up three of the side’s six tries and kick five from six conversions. It might be difficult for Drinkwater to crack first grade in 2016, but should injury strike he will be ready to step up.
8 – Rod Griffin (Wests Tigers)
Like a fine wine, Papua New Guinean international Griffin continues to get better with age. The 29-year-old, who played in the Wests Tigers’ junior reps system, had a stellar 2015 season for the NRL State Championship-winning Ipswich Jets before returning to the Tigers this year. He’s in good form which could finally earn him his NRL debut in 2016.
9 – Zach Dockar-Clay (Penrith Panthers)
The Panthers went down in the heat in Canberra, but it wasn’t without effort from Dockar-Clay. A major signing for the Panthers, he impressed in his side’s defeat and will be hopeful of making his NRL debut next week with an injury to James Segeyaro.
10 – Danny Wicks (Wentworthville Magpies)
Last season’s success story Wicks was a notable omission from Round 1 NRL team lists – and on Sunday the big prop showed why he may be back in the top grade sooner rather than later. The 30-year-old returned from a five-year NRL exile last year to play 16 first grade games and will want to break into first grade again in 2016. Some hard-hitting defence and attack showed his ability to do so.
11 – Shaun Lane (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Lane, 21, was an NRL sensation for the Bulldogs last year, proving to be a weapon off the bench. Overlooked for Canterbury’s NRL clash with the Sea Eagles, the 198cm second-rower provided a number of offloads and strong carries to give his side go-forward in the Intrust Super Premiership. A certainty to play more NRL this year.
12 – Mitch Barnett (Mounties)
Mounties’ forward pack in general was impressive in their win over the Penrith Panthers, highlighted by the tenacity of Mitch Barnett. In extreme heat at GIO Stadium, last year’s Intrust Super Premiership Player of the Year continued his good form to set up fullback Zach Santo for his second try. He’s truly become a leader in the Mounties side.
13 – Joseph Paulo (Newtown Jets)
Former Parramatta Eels second-rower Joseph Paulo was a key signing for the Cronulla Sharks in the pre-season, but found himself running out for Newtown at Henson Park last weekend. As expected, Paulo’s experience shone through and he displayed a slick passing game in the Jets’ draw with the Bulldogs, setting up a late Jacob Gagan try to draw level.
14 – Te Maire Martin (Penrith Panthers)
Te Maire Martin was also impressive in his club debut, setting up one try and scoring two of his own in his side’s 26-24 loss to Mounties. The five-eighth couldn’t have done much more in a losing team, showing his outstanding kicking and running game. Martin narrowly misses out on a starting spot in our Round 1 Team of the Week.
15 – Jarrad Kennedy (Mounties)
The 27-year-old showed signs of another year of good performances, playing well in both attack and defence for Mounties. After the Panthers opened the scoring, Kennedy set up Zach Santo to get his side on the board and defended well for the rest of the game.
16 – Brenton Lawrence (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
The Sea Eagles failed to put up an 80-minute performance in the heat against the Tigers, but Lawrence was a shining light. Returning from an awful back injury last year, the prop showed signs of becoming a mainstay in the Manly side once again.
17 – Luke Bateman (Mounties)
Another impressive Mounties forward was Luke Bateman, who ran for plenty of metres in his side’s victory. Along with Kennedy and Barnett, the Raiders clearly boast plenty of depth in the forwards should injury strike this season.
This article first appeared on http://www.kiwileaguecentral.com