With the Representative Round now concluded and players making their way back to their club teams, it is time to look at who the best performing 17 players were in the international matches.
Fullback: Joseph Manu (New Zealand)
Joseph Manu was the Player of the Match for New Zealand against Tonga. Even though he didn’t score a try, Manu was miraculous in attack running 401 metres from fullback. He was easily able to gain metres off the first and second tackle.
Manu was not needed in defence but was always in position if he was needed. Playing centre at club level for the Roosters, it will be interesting to see whether he is given the chance to showcase his skills as fullback if James Tedesco is unable to play.
Wingers: David Nofoaluma (Samoa) and Jordan Rapana (New Zealand)
Four tries. Enough said. Nofoaluma’s four tries were brilliant; hardly your ordinary catch and put down tries. Ending the game with 211 run metres off a measly 16 runs, 16 points and 15 tackles he deserved to win the Player of the Match honours, which he did. He will be hoping to take Samoa’s winning ways back to the Wests Tigers who desperately need a win.
Jordan Rapana had a perfect conversion rate of 100 per cent from five attempts. Add to this 189 run metres, one try and seven tackles, Rapana certainly deserved this spot in the team of the week.
Going into the game there was much talk on whether the veteran Raider should have been included in the team. Without him in the team, New Zealand would have lost an advantage in attack.
Centres: Justin Olam (Papua New Guinea) and Izack Tago (Samoa)
Powerhouse Melbourne centre Olam delivered a near perfect performance against Fiji. His most important moment came in the first half as he sped past the Fiji backs put a nice little goose step on and set-up Lachie Lam for the try. He was a force in defence and put on big hits all over the field. He ended up with 17 tackles, two try assists and 138 run metres.
Promising youngster Tago played inside of teammate Taylan May on the left side of the field. Tago had one try and a total of 198 metres, second only to Nofoaluma in the game.
He stretched out the Cook Islands defence and made sure if they put extra effort in marking Nofoaluma and Paulo on the right-side, he would damage them on the left.
Five-Eighth: Dylan Brown (New Zealand)
The Kiwi five-eighth was a decisive play-maker as an attacker, setting up two tries, and was incredibly useful in defence having 28 tackles. It is unusual for a five-eighth to have so many tackles in a game but Brown proved that you don’t need to be a forward to put in a good defensive effort.
Going into the game all eyes were on halfback Jahrome Hughes. The Eels starter showed the audience what he is capable of and why he should be included in the same conversation as Hughes. In his debut game, Brown couldn’t have wanted a better individual performance.
Halfback: Lachlan Lam (Papua New Guinea)
The son of legendary Papua New Guinea and Roosters player Adrian Lam, Lachie had a great performance for the Kumals. Unlucky to not have cemented his spot in the Roosters team, the Player of the Match performance may change the selectors mind.
Lam was astonishing in attack and ended the game with two tries, one try assist, 18 tackles and 72 run metres off four runs. Not only was he good with the ball in his hand but had an impeccable kicking game with 392 kicking metres.
He will be hoping to have performances like this every week, until he can cement his spot in the starting Roosters side.
Props: James Fisher-Harris (New Zealand) and Tui Kamikamica (Fiji)
Continuing his form from club footy, Fisher-Harris led the team in the middle of the ground with 152 run metres off only 11 runs and 18 tackles. He also provided the Kiwis with one try assist. Against the big and strong Tongan forward pack, he led by example and made sure they couldn’t get any momentum going.
The Melbourne Storm front-rower made the most run metres out of either forward pack in the clash against the Kumals. He ran 174 metres and wasn’t afraid to run the ball at the scary Papua New Guinea forwards. Equally good in defence, he had 29 tackles and played nearly the whole game.
Hooker: Penioni Tagituimua (Fiji)
Tagituimua was a shining green light in Fiji’s loss to Papua New Guinea. He had the single best individual defensive performance this weekend with 60 tackles. This was 12 more than anyone else not only in the game but all three matches.
His defence limited the Kumals to only 24 points and kept Fiji in the game right until the end of the match. NRL clubs will be looking closely at him as a signing for next season as he is young and only plays in the New South Wales cup.
Second-Rowers: Josh Schuster (Samoa) and Nixon Putt (Papua New Guinea)
Josh Schuster showed so much emotion both on and off the field. Before the kick off, it was clear that he would lead the Samoans to victory in the forward line with his passion.
He provided the team with three try assists and easily broke through the Tongan defence. He also had 119 run metres and 25 tackles to round up his great performance.
The big Kumals second-rower was terrifying to face in defence. His presence alone frightened the Fijians but his devastating tackles made sure they would stay down. Even though he hasn’t played a single game in the NRL, he has represented the Kumals since 2017. At the end of the game his stat line read 106 run metres off 11 runs and 48 tackles.
Lock: Taane Milne (Fiji)
The Souths lock produced a very consistent game against the Kumals. He wasn’t the best player in the game but played his role to perfection. Milne had 148 run metres and a try assist in attack and provided 31 tackles in defence.
Just like his teammate Viliame Kikau, he didn’t have enough supporting players around him to make a big enough impact on the final score.
14. Charlie Staines (Samoa)
If it wasn’t for Joseph Manu’s extraordinary showing for New Zealand, Staines would have easily been the best fullback in all the international matches. He will hope to continue on this performance to cement his spot as a starting player in the Penrith team.
The Panther had 190 metres in attack, made zero mistakes and one try assist. He would have had a try to add to that if it wasn’t for a leaping David Nofoaluma getting to the ball before him.
15. Martin Taupau (Samoa)
The Samoan veteran was unstoppable in attack and defence. In defence he led a brick wall against the Cook Islands not allowing them any movement in the middle. Along with Francis Molo they dominated the Cookies.
He led by example in attack making 167 metres and wasn’t afraid to run the ball having 16 hit-ups. He always brings tenacity to the team and will be influential in the upcoming World Cup.
16. Viliame Kikau (Fiji)
Going into the game there was a lot of pressure for Kikau to perform well, and he lived up to expectation. Unfortunately, he had no one backing him up in attack and had to produce a creative play to grant the Fiji Bati team a try.
His statistics for the match included one try assist, 23 tackles and 139 run metres off 14 runs.
17. Sunia Turuva (Fiji)
The flying Fijian fullback scored both of his team’s tries and ran 254 run metres. His athleticism helped Fiji get out of their own 20 metres on several occasions to allow them to mount an attack.
Fans couldn’t believe that he is yet to play a single game of NRL. Currently named as a Panthers development player he will be given many chances for them in the near future.
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