#KiwiNRL Encyclopedia: Round Whitu


Roosters vs Dragons


Starters: Joseph Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

Bench/Extended Bench: Sitili Tupouniua, Zane Tetevano/Poasa Fa'amausili.


Starters: Jordan Pereira.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

How did Sydney Roosters get in position to give Latrell Mitchell the game-winning field goal? A huge run from Marists Saints junior Sitili Tupouniua.

Tupouniua has taken Poasa Fa'amausili's spot on the bench for the Chooks, notably while Isaac Liu has been absent and I don't think that's because of anything Fa'amausili did wrong. Fa'amausili played 4 games and averaged a tick under 10m/run (24runs for 239m) and averaged 27mins per game, while Tupouniua played 36min in his first appearance of the season with 4runs/64m. A wide range of Roosters forwards have been used, partly due to injury but I reckon this is also a case of coach Trent Robinson sharing usage around to ensure that the fringe forwards all feel engaged in NRL footy. This feels like it could be the case with Fa'amausili and Tupouniua, two young #KiwiNRL forwards who are being given tasters of the NRL.

Storm vs Warriors


Starters: Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich.

Bench/Extended Bench: Brandon Smith/Albert Vete.


Starters: All but Blake Green, Lachlan Burr.

Bench/Extended Bench: All the boys.

Doc's Word

Fun task here is bringing the two #KiwiNRL forward packs together, to give us one of the best #KiwiNRL combos from opposing teams:

Middles: Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Adam Blair.

Edges: Tohu Harris, Kenny Bromwich.

Hookers: Issac Luke, Brandon Smith.

Kenny Bromwich has low key settled into an edge forward role, having dabbled in edge and middle in previous seasons, which hasn't produced huge numbers but he's not required to. Kenny did have his best effort of the season vs Roosters and even with a few extra minutes added to the calculation, having 16runs/170m and a couple assists was a huge performance.

How does Jahrome Hughes get 49 post contact metres from 17 runs? That's almost 3 pcm each run and he's 42nd overall in post contact metres, which gets even crazier when you consider that Kenny is 47th and Brandon Smith is 48th. Hughes and Smith are definitely among the smallest, if not the two smallest players in the top-50 for post contact metres, while Kenny isn't exactly huge. Something about that Melbourne Storm power huh?

Bulldogs vs Cowboys


Starters: Reimis Smith, Jeremy Marshall-King, Ofahiki Ogden, Corey Harawira-Naera.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Fa'amanu Brown, Renouf To'omaga.


Starters: Te Maire Martin, Jordan Kahu.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Jason Taumalolo.

Doc's Word

The Cowboys defeated Aotearoa Warriors last week, although not because Te Maire Martin churned out a huge performance at fullback. Martin had 6runs/50m and 2 errors in 80mins, which kinda sums up where we are at with Martin the fullback.

Tough outing for the Bulldogs in their loss to Rabbitohs last week, which did produce a decent effort from Ofahiki Ogden. Starting last week (again starting this week), Ogden got through 45mins, with 12runs/116m, 1 line break, 4 tackle busts and an unfortunate 8 missed tackles. For context, Ogden averages 32mins, 7.8runs and 73m, with 1 tackle bust and we could be seeing Ogden break the shackles, if he can out-perform his averages again vs Cowboys.

Panthers vs Rabbitohs


Starters: Caleb Aekins, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, James Fisher-Harris.

Bench/Extended Bench: Sione Katoa, Moses Leota/Jarome Luai.


Starters: Nada.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Mawene Hiroti.

Doc's Word

Haere mai Caleb Aekins! With the Panthers struggling, Aekins has been called into fullback which allows for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to step in for Dean Whare at centre. Whare's out via injury so no dramas there and now James Fisher-Harris has his Northland homie in the Panthers 17. Aekins has been strong in reserve grade for a Panthers team that is 4-2...

2nd in kick return metres.

1st in all runs.

8th in tackle busts.

18th in post contact metres.

6th in run metres.

Tigers vs Titans


Starters: Esan Marsters, Russell Packer, Josh Aloiai.

Bench/Extended Bench: Ben Matulino, Michael Chee-Kam/Elijah Taylor.


Starters: Moeaki Fotuaika.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Jesse Arthars.

Doc's Word

Moekai Fotuaika came into the Titans starting team last week and rolled out an epic performance vs Newcastle, now the stars align for further opportunities. Ryan James has suffered a long-term knee injury and Fotuaika now has a chance to seal his place in the Titans forward pack in James' absence. Look for Fotuaika to increase his workload, having played 32mins last week and averaging 26.8mins/game this season, hopefully Fotuaika can get up around 40mins at some stage in the coming weeks.

Whether Fotuaika can have the same influence against a Tigers pack who will be eager to make up for their shocker vs Eels last week, is the key question. Russell Packer, Josh Aloiai, Ben Matulino and Michael Chee-Kam are all named again this week, in the same roles and despite their performance last week, the Tigers pack is a step up from the Knights.

Broncos vs Sharks


Starters: Jamayne Isaako, Kodi Nikorima, Alex Glenn.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.


Starters: Sosaia Feki, Shaun Johnson.

Bench/Extended Bench: Braden Hamlin-Uele, Sione Katoa.

Doc's Word

Remember that Kodi Nikorima and Shaun Johnson is the current Aotearoa Kiwis halves duo, which with Kieran Foran and Dylan Brown currently injured, as well as Te Maire Martin playing fullback, doesn't feel like it's going to change any time soon. This gives us an interesting battle between the two here and it's not an even playing field given that Nikorima and his Broncos are struggling, while Johnson's doing a decent job with the Sharks. Both are likely to operate on their team's right edge and both tend to playing second fiddle to their halves partner in terms of touches and control; Johnson's a super busy kicker though.

Sea Eagles vs Raiders

Sea Eagles

Starters: Martin Taupau, Toafofoa Sipley.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.


Starters: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana.

Bench/Extended Bench: Siliva Havili, Iosia Soliola/Bailey Simonsson.

Doc's Word

We've got a couple all #KiwiNRL prop duos in the NRL at the moment, with the latest addition to the crew being Toafofoa Sipley and Martin Taupau. Sipley was used sparingly last week vs Dragons by Des Hasler, getting just 17 minutes of action as a starter, compared to Taupau's usual 48mins. The Sea Eagles middles will have to deal with a smaller, more nimble Raiders forward pack that had some crucial #KiwiNRL contributions in their win over Brisbane Broncos last week.

Part of that is Jordan Rapana and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad having 3 dummy half runs each, amounting to the Raiders being the most active team out of dummy half in the NRL (1st with 87 dh/runs, next best has 65). Add in Siliva Havili having 8runs/98m and Iosia Soliola's 11runs/112m, both over the 10m/run mark and there's a nice example how being mobile through the middle can be effective.

Knights vs Eels


Starters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Danny Levi, James Gavet.

Bench/Extended Bench: Herman Ese'ese/Mason Lino.


Starters: Brad Takairangi, Marata Niukore.

Bench/Extended Bench: Peni Terepo/Manu Ma'u, Josh Hoffman

Doc's Word

Last week I highlighted James Gavet's lack of impact for Newcastle Knights and unfortunately, it was exactly the same story in the Knights loss to Gold Coast Titans. This interests/concerns me because Gavet is churning out these numbers in a Knights team that is severely under-performing and Gavet has done so after essentially being given a free pass into the starting Knights team upon arrival; that could also be a reflection on Knights coach Nathan Brown.

Gavet played 35mins, split into 21:13mins and 13.28mins stints which produced 5runs/29m. Compare that to Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika, who played 32mins with 12runs/130m and you've been graced with a fiarly comprehensive picture of Gavet's work. Overall, Gavet is averaging 7.58m/run this season which isn't even in the realm of most starting middle forwards.

The good #KiwiNRL news here is that the longer the Knights struggle, there could be more opportunities for Mason Lino. Lino is on an extended bench after a late re-shuffle last week saw Connor Watson come in for Lino, which didn't exactly help the Knights.

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Peace and love 27.