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They say injuries create opportunities and the rookies and replacements certainly shone under the bright lights of Magic Round. 

After Hudson Young and Joseph Tapine helped the Raiders to a late victory in the opening match of the round, Selwyn Cobbo starred at fullback after the Broncos lost Reece Walsh just 24-hours before kick-off. 

Cowboys new recruit Braidon Burns showed off his skills with a double against his former club while a masterclass from Warriors playmaker Te Maire Martin led his side to a big upset over Penrith.

1. Selwyn Cobbo (Broncos) 

Despite only being called into the role 24-hours earlier, Cobbo slipped it into the No. 1 role with ease and provided plenty of spark to the Broncos’ attack. The 21-year-old did damage almost every time he touched the ball and finished with two line breaks, 11 tackle busts and 228 run metres, demanding the attention of Maroons coach Billy Slater.   

Cobbo really can do it all

2. Greg Marzhew (Knights) 

Another blockbusting display from the powerful winger, making 251 metres from 21 runs and busting eight tackles. The Knights’ back five all came up with big metres, starting their sets on the front foot to lay a platform for Saturday's tight victory over the Titans. Marzhew always puts his hand up for a tough carry and always proves a handful for the defence. 

3. Dane Gagai (Knights) 

With a new contract in his back pocket, the 33-year-old had another day out on the Knights’ right edge, running the ball 167 metres, including a 25-metre scoot from dummy half. When the game came down to the wire late in the match, the veteran centre also stood up in defence, finishing with 21 tackles in Saturday's gritty victory. 

4. Jesse Ramien (Sharks)

With Knights centre Bradman Best joining the Origin hopeful casualty ward, Ramien's name is well in the frame of selection conversations after another stirring performance from the Cronulla centre. His powerful running game is proving a handful for opponents each week and Magic Round was no different, after running 175 metres, 48 of which were post contact against the Roosters.  Also had his ball skills on show with two try assists and a line break assists.

5. Braidon Burns (Cowboys) 

Moved to Townsville a fortnight ago chasing an opportunity and it came sooner than expected with Kyle Feldt ruled out due to an ankle injury. Burns did all that was asked of him and then some with his first try double since Round 22, 2021 for Souths against the Titans, as well as 175 run metres and some rock solid defence. 

Braidon Burns 2nd Try

6. Tom Dearden (Cowboys) 

The stars are aligning for the Cowboys’ skipper to earn a recall to the Origin arena and he’s doing his chances no harm with performances like this. Positioned himself well to finish off a try in the first half and led his men around the park well. Had traffic sent his way all game and responded by making 30 tackles.  

7. Te Maire Martin (Warriors) 

A huge performance standing in as the team’s chief playmaker in the absence of Shaun Johnson and one that became even more impressive when he revealed post-match that he suffered a suspected broken finger in the opening exchanges. Helped his side take full advantage of the 10 minutes in which the Panthers were reduced to 12 men and set up a try on each side of the field. Kicked for 600 metres on the day.  

Terrific Te Maire

8. Thomas Hazelton (Sharks) 

The Sharks’ cult hero continues to enhance his reputation with powerful hit-ups and four-pointers. In 36 minutes of game time Hazelton racked up 108 run metres, 17 tackles and his fourth try in the past five matches. A crucial part of the Sharks’ middle rotation, the 25-year-old lays the line for Nicho Hynes and Daniel Atkinson to work off. 

9. Harry Grant (Storm) 

Manipulated the Parramatta defence and his fingerprints were all over many of the big plays his side produced in attack, including his own first-half double. His support play was excellent all game and Grant made a team-high 30 tackles before getting an early rest with 12 to play and his team well in front.  

10. Joseph Tapine (Raiders)

Was a cool head among the chaos when two players were sent to the bin and the Bulldogs were looking to get a roll-on. With 58 post contact metres, the Bulldogs just couldn’t handle Tapine’s athleticism in the middle and the Kiwi international laid a strong platform to wrestle back momentum after half-time. Finished with the second highest run metres for his team, behind Jordan Rapana (205), after carrying the ball 158 metres and racked up three tackle busts and 32 tackles. 

11. Hudson Young (Raiders) 

An ‘Origin style’ performance according to his coach Ricky Stuart. Young sealed the late victory for the Raiders after crossing for a double late in the match. The edge back rower also finished the game with four tackle breaks, two line breaks, 33 tackles and 141 metres in a starring effort on both sides of the ball. 

12. David Fifita (Titans) 

After a full-circle decision to commit to the Titans for a further two seasons, Fifita let his footy do the talking on Saturday with another workhorse performance for the blue and yellow. The star edge forward helped wrestle momentum back in the first half to put his side back into the match and finished with a try assist, six tackle busts and 162 run metres. 

Fifita hard to handle

13. Patrick Carrigan (Broncos) 

Another tireless performance from the stand-in skipper. Carrigan is punching out ridiculous stats week after week and his Round 11 display was no different after topping the run metres (265) for the match and also churn out 33 tackles and lay on 33 tackles for the Broncos on Friday.      

14. Nicho Hynes (Sharks) 

Really showed his class in a shootout with the Roosters, setting up two tries and putting teammates through for three line breaks. In a close game his goal kicking was crucial too, with a perfect seven from seven giving the Sharks some comfort on the scoreboard at important stages of the game.  

15. David Armstrong (Knights) 

Three tries in a dynamic performance from the back which included breaking through 11 tackle breaks. The 23-year-old's emergence has softened the blow of Kalyn Ponga’s injury and ensured Newcastle have kept a lethal presence at the back.  

Armstrong has a happy Magic Round

16. Cam McInnes (Sharks) 

Did his Origin selection chances no harm, setting the tone for Cronulla’s forward pack on a day which saw both their backs and big men cross for tries to put 38 points on the Roosters. His work ethic on both sides of the ball was outstanding as usual, with McInnes racking up 153 run metres as well as 33 tackles with just one miss.  

17. Dylan Walker (Warriors) 

After answering a late call up to start in place of injured skipper Tohu Harris, Walker worked himself to a standstill in a 73-minute effort which was easily the most time he’s spent on field in 2024. Had a team high 24 carries and had the highest yardage count of any Warriors forward. Came up with a few crucial defensive plays as well.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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