RED AND BLACK REPORT 2023: EDITION NO.14
The Red and Black Report shines a spotlight on Canterbury Rugby League products featuring in Australia’s elite and lower-grade competitions.
Although the Dolphins faded to finish their season NRL campaign in 13th spot, Aranui product Jamayne Isaako capped a career-best year with a host of accolades.
He became the first player since Mal Meninga to lead the premiership’s regular-season tryscoring and pointscoring charts – racking up career-high tallies of 24 tries and 244 points – closing out the season with a try, five goals and three line-breaks in the Dolphins’ final-round win over the depleted Warriors.
The 27-year-old winger also dominated the fledgling club’s inaugural awards night, collecting the Arthur Beetson Medal as the Dolphins’ Player of the Year, plus gongs for Players’ Player, Most Consistent and Best Back.
Isaako, a veteran of five Tests for New Zealand in 2018-19, should be at the forefront of discussions for the Kiwis’ end-of-season campaign.
Dolphins teammate and Burnham junior Kodi Nikorima finished the NRL season with a flourish, producing a line-break and two try assists – advancing his tally of the latter to 18 for the year – against former club the Warriors.
Nikorima, who has played 181 first-grade games since his 2015 debut, also made starts at fullback, centre and off the bench as an interchange dummy-half.
Ex-Hornby utility Fa’amanu Brown received a call-up at hooker for Newcastle’s Round 27 clash with St George Illawarra, scoring a try in a 32-12 win in Wollongong.
Brown, who made a late-season switch from Canterbury-Bankstown, has now played 56 NRL games for four clubs but was not included in the Knights’ 17 for their elimination final thriller against Canberra.
Another Hornby product, Brisbane second-rower Jordan Riki chalked up 37 tackles and 70 running metres in a final-round defeat to Melbourne, before running off Reece Walsh for a vital second-half try in the Broncos’ dominant qualifying final victory over the Storm last Friday.
Meanwhile, Burnham junior Siua Wong’s star continues to soar as part of Sydney Roosters’ pack.
After a solid performance (62 metres, 31 tackles) in the Roosters’ do-or-die Round 27 win over Souths, the 20-year-old was a standout in their nail-biting elimination final eclipse of Cronulla, playing 71 minutes and chewing through 122 metres and 31 tackles, as well as levelling the scores with a memorable 67th-minute try in just his ninth NRL appearance.
Fellow Chevaliers junior Jazz Tevaga returned to the Warriors’ bench in the 32-6 qualifying final defeat at Penrith after another four-week injury layoff, toiling for 61 metres and 21 tackles in 33 minutes on the field as one of just two survivors from the club’s previous finals appearance in 2018.
Yet another Burnham junior, Jayden Nikorima, made his first NRL appearance in 14 months as an under-strength Storm line-up defeated the Broncos in Round 27. The five-eighth notched two try assists.
Warriors SG Ball captain and Halswell front-rower Tanner Stowers-Smith has featured prominently in the club’s NSW Cup finals campaign.
Starting at lock in the week one loss to the Rabbitohs, Stowers-Smith backed up to score a try in the opening stages and finished an industrious 62-minute shift with 14 runs for 139 metres and 32 tackles.
The tyro moved up to prop for last Saturday’s minor semi and ran for 127 metres from 22 carries in a 49-6 drubbing of the Raiders. The Warriors face table-topping North Sydney Bears in the preliminary final this weekend.
Ex-Hornby and Canterbury Bulls powerhouse Caius Faatili came off the bench in Wynnum Manly Seagulls’ 30-24 semi-final win over Souths Logan Magpies two weeks ago.
Faatili reeled off 18 tackles and four runs for 52 metres in the sudden-death victory, but he was an unused replacement as the Seagulls were bundled out via a heavy preliminary final defeat to Burleigh Bears.
Cronulla Sharks dipped out of the Jersey Flegg finals series in straight sets, with Hornby’s Felix Faatili coming off the bench in their 44-22 week one loss to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.