Ryan Papenhuyzen (Photo: Getty Images)

1. Briton Nikora (Cronulla Sharks – last week: 1st)
v Gold Coast – 80 minutes, 14 runs, 96 metres, 27 post contact, 1 tackle break, 1 offload, 36 tackles, 1 miss, 1 ineffective, 1 penalty conceded

Briton Nikora continued his great rookie campaign with another strong performance in Cronulla’s win over the Titans to open Magic Round. Nikora played the full 80 minutes once again on the Sharks’ right edge, running for 96 metres, 27 of those post contact. With 36 tackles, for just one miss, it was one of Nikora’s best defensive performances of the season.

2. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos – last week: 3rd)
v Manly – 61 minutes, 19 runs, 202 metres, 93 post contact, 9 tackle breaks, 32 tackles, 1 miss, 2 ineffective

Payne Haas moves into second spot on the rankings and might be in first before long. The 19-year old ran for a massive 202 metres, 93 of those post contact, and broke a whopping nine tackles in 61 minutes of action. Defensively strong once again, he made 32 tackles for just one miss. Now averaging 162.4 metres per game, Haas is a true Origin bolter after just eight NRL games.

3. Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels – last week: 2nd)
v Melbourne – 70 minutes, 1 try, 9 runs, 74 metres, 1 line break, 2 tackle breaks, 1 tackle, 1 ineffective, 1 penalty conceded

Maika Sivo drops one spot after a disappointing performance against the Storm. Sivo was sin binned in the 48th minute for a careless high tackle, for which he also copped a one-week suspension. Despite the binning, Sivo added to his try tally in the Eels’ 54-point loss.

4. Jack Williams (Cronulla Sharks – last week: 5th)
v Gold Coast – 46 minutes, 14 runs, 128 metres, 32 post contact, 2 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 22 tackles, 3 missed, 2 ineffective, 1 error, 2 penalties conceded

Jack Williams jumps up a spot in the rankings after another great performance off the bench in the Sharks’ win over the Gold Coast. In 46 minutes, the Cooma junior ran for 128 metres from 14 runs, broke two tackles and made 22.

5. Corey Waddell (Manly Sea Eagles – last week: 4th)
v Canterbury – 64 minutes, 12 runs, 110 metres, 46 post contact, 1 line break assist, 1 tackle break, 31 tackles, 9 missed, 2 ineffective

Corey Waddell was forced to play big minutes in Manly’s loss to Brisbane as his side’s injury toll mounted. Waddell’s run metres were slightly down in the defeat, from averaging 140 over the last three weeks to 110. The Sea Eagles missed 44 tackles as a team, with Waddell unfortunately contributing nine of them.

6. Bronson Xerri (Cronulla Sharks – last week: 6th)
v Gold Coast – 11 runs, 118 metres, 27 post contact, 1 line break assist, 2 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 9 tackles, 0 missed, 1 error

Bronson Xerri continues to prove himself as an NRL player after another solid performance on Thursday night. The 18-year old ran for 118 metres, broke two tackles and made nine without any misses in his side’s win. He now averages 125.4 metres per game, with a 90.9% tackle efficiency.

7. Kyle Flanagan (Cronulla Sharks – last week: 10th)
v Gold Coast – 2 goals, 8 runs, 54 minutes, 1 line break, 1 line break assist, 1 try assist, 2 tackle breaks, 17 tackles, 2 missed, 1 ineffective, 4 kicks, 143 metres, 1 forced drop out

Kyle Flanagan has shown himself to be a more than handy replacement for Shaun Johnson, helping the Sharks to another win. Starting at five-eighth, he set up a try and kicking for 143 metres, forcing a drop out.

8. Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos – last week: 7th)
v Manly – 28 minutes, 5 runs, 43 metres, 23 tackles, 3 missed

Thomas Flegler started at lock for the second time this season in Brisbane’s 16-point win over the Sea Eagles. Despite the start, Flegler played just 28 minutes, running for 43 metres and making 23 tackles.

9. Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm – last week: unranked)
v Parramatta – 32 minutes, 1 try, 10 runs, 137 metres, 3 line breaks, 2 line break assists, 2 try assists, 6 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 2 tackles, 1 miss, 1 ineffective

Ryan Papenhuyzen produced possibly the best 32-minute stint in NRL history after he came on for the injured Jahrome Hughes in Melbourne’s massive win over the Eels. Slotting in at fullback, he scored a try, ran for 137 metres, made three line breaks and set up two tries in a brilliant performance. The Dundas junior will get a chance to move further up the rankings as he’s likely to start in Round 10 for Hughes, who is likely to miss a week.

10. Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla Sharks – last week: unranked)
v Gold Coast – 56 minutes, 14 runs, 121 metres, 38 post contact, 6 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 25 tackles, 1 miss, 1 ineffective

Another Shark joins the top 10 as Braden Hamlin-Uele smashes in after another strong performance off the bench for Cronulla. Coming on after six minutes due to an Andrew Fifita injury, Hamlin-Uele played 56 minutes, the most of his career so far, running for 121 metres and breaking six tackles. He now averages 85.1 metres per game with a 91.4% tackle efficiency.

Outside looking in:

  • Jake Turpin made a great return to first grade in Brisbane’s win over Manly. He played the full 80 minutes at hooker, making 38 tackles for just one miss and setting up a try.
  • Patrick Carrigan had his best performance of 2019 in the Broncos’ win, running for 111 metres in just 23 minutes of action.
  • Corey Horsburgh played a big part in the Raiders’ comeback in their loss to the Roosters. He came off the bench for 91 metres and 24 tackles in 35 minutes.
  • Mitch Dunn was another who returned to first grade in Round 9 and was one of the Cowboys’ best in their loss to South Sydney. Playing centre for the majority of the contest, he set up a try and ran for 102 metres.
  • Sitili Tupouniua continues to be a presence off the bench for the Roosters. He set up James Tedesco for a try a minute after half time with a line break from his own half. He finished with 74 metres in 42 minutes.
  • Tigers’ prop Thomas Mikaele is inching closer to a return to the top 10 after once again running for 101 metres from the bench in his side’s win over Penrith. He added 3 tackles breaks and 14 tackles.

The 18th Man’s Rookie Rankings, released after each round, take into account a player’s previous round performance and their season as a whole.

We are using the NRL’s criteria for Dally M Rookie of the Year; the player must not have played more than four NRL games prior to the current season to qualify. Unlike the NRL, a player won’t be taken off the rankings if he becomes ineligible through suspension.


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