Studs and duds from NRL round one

Joey Riordan

Eight games into the NRL season, these players have made a big statement.

Revealing much about their off-season preparations, many players came out and killed it in their highly anticipated season openers.

Unfortunately, many faltered.

We take a look at some of the best and worst round one performers in our nailed it, failed it segment.

Studs and duds from round one. Pic: Getty


Benji Marshall

Made the cruel pre-game loss of Josh Reynolds a non-issue as he stepped up and led the Tigers around in a masterful performance against the Chooks.

Navigated his team of fresh faces perfectly without Luke Brooks in a crucial ten minute sin-bin period, kicking to the corners and slowing down the game to ensure no damage was done.

Looks good back in Tigers colours. Pic: Getty

Kalyn Ponga

Electrified Newcastle on Friday night as he justified all the pre-season hype against Manly. Scored off one of his first touches of the football, broke through eight tackles and produced an incredible try-saving tackle in a stunning 80 minutes of football.

The Sea Eagles tried to target him early, but the 19-year-old was unfazed. You've got a good one Knights fans.

Ben Hunt

Showed the rugby league world that the Broncos fought hard to keep the wrong man in the season opener on Thursday night. Had an intercept try and a try assist in a scintillating performance for the Red V, while assisting halves partner Gareth Widdop to one of his best performances in years.

An instant crowd favourite down in Wollongong after seemingly justifying his hefty price tag.

RTS was electric. Pic: Getty

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Coming into season 2018 with a tonne of pressure on his shoulders, RTS stood up to every test, blitzing the Rabbitohs and leading the Warriors to victory in Perth.

RTS was everywhere in attack, tormenting the Rabbitohs' edges with two try assists, but his best work came in defence, as he produced a contender for tackle of the season with his try saver on Alex Johnston.

Notable mentions: Gareth Widdop, Waqa Blake, Ash Taylor, Blake Ferguson, Viliame Kikau, James Taumalolo.

Teddy drops one with the line in site. Pic: Getty


James Tedesco

Disjointed. The word that best sums up the Tricolours attack against the Tigers, and Teddy was an integral part of that. He had three errors, one on a bombed try, while failing to make any in-roads against his former team.

Will no doubt bounce back in epic fashion very soon, you can't keep a champion down.

Anthony Milford

It's hard to lay all the blame on Anthony Milford for the Broncos' sub-par round one performance, but the team's top paid player should be doing more to lead his team around in attack. Five missed tackles doesn't help either.

Granted, Milf has always been an electric, off-the-cuff player, but the current team situation demands he step up into more of a playmaker role. Given the money he's on, he better comply.

After a spray from master coach Wayne Bennett this week, Brisbane fans will be hoping Milf clicks into gear soon.

Croker needs to up his game. Pic: Getty

Jarrod Croker

A tough one to add to this list, but the Raiders skipper had a real shocker in round one on a number of levels. Highlighting his lack of physicality, he was steamrolled by Konrad Hurrell in the first half against the Titans, one of five of his missed tackles for the game. With ball in hand, he wasn't much better, posing no threat while playing second-fiddle on the Raiders' left edge attack to Nick Cotric.

The real problem for Croker though, particularly as the Titans rolled over the top of the Raiders in the second half, is his lack of leadership when the going gets tough. With the loss of Josh Hodgson, Croker needs to step up and get his troops firing in the pressure moments. The more Canberra falter in the close games, the greater the question marks will be on his leadership.

Notable mentions: Alex Johnston, Peter Hiku.