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Drought-breaking stars reign supreme in Team of the Week

Stirring performances to help clubs end winless streaks were a feature in Round 3, while the Cowboys' spine stood tall to see them emerge as the NRL's only remaining unbeaten side. 

Here are the players who excelled in Round 3 of the 2024 Telstra Premiership. 

Round 3 Team of the Week

1. James Tedesco (Roosters) 

One of the best big-game players in the business, ‘Teddy’ tormented the Rabbitohs' defence with his elusive running and slick hands when chiming into the backline. Chalked up 170 metres from 23 runs, broke eight tackles and dished up two line break assists as the Roosters toweled up their arch-rivals to make a massive statement under the Friday night lights. 

Teddy was causing nightmares for the Rabbitohs

2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Warriors)  

Came up with a huge play when the game sat in the balance in the second half with a crabbing run across field that eventually saw him find a gap to send Luke Metcalf through. While it was a rare game not involving a try for the veteran Kiwi, he ensured he was still heavily involved with some tough carries and six tackle breaks. 

3. Jacob Kiraz (Bulldogs)

Led the way with his energy and enthusiasm as the Dogs ended a seven-month wait for a win. The Titans had no answer for the 22-year-old at times, as he smashed through a whopping 11 tackles on a day in which he clocked 122 metres from 16 carries. In defence he swamped Brian Kelly with a series of stinging low tackles that shut down dangerous backline moves from the Gold Coast. 

4. Justin Olam (Wests Tigers) 

After a forgettable 2023 campaign, this was Olam at his best as he celebrated his first outing in Wests Tigers colours in style. A problem for the Sharks on each of his 16 carries, which resulted in 177 run metres. Got over for a try late in the first half after backing up his side's other standout player, Api Koroisau.  

Justin Olam Try

5. Brian To’o (Panthers) 

A second-half double by the three-time premiership winner all but put the game to bed for the Panthers on Thursday. His second try was particularly impressive after showing some great footwork before powering through several Broncos defenders to score. Finishing with 263 metres and 12 tackle busts, To'o was at his energetic best on the Penrith's left edge.

6. Tom Dearden (Cowboys)

Played a prominent role in several of his side's eight tries against the Dragons with another ever-present showing in attack. Dearden is in fine form to start the year and in Round 3 scored a try for the third-straight game. Kept the defence honest with a busy running game that saw him finish with 90 metres to his name. 

7. Nathan Cleary (Panthers) 

An absolute masterclass from the game’s premier playmaker as the Panthers turned the grand final rematch into a mismatch. Cleary took total control in the first half as the Panthers raced to a 22-2 lead, laying on tries and kicking superbly to deliver yet another reminder of his class and composure. 

Cleary busts the line

8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Eels)

An effort in game 200 which matched most of the 199 performances that came before it for 'Reg'. Met the in-form Manly middles head on and helped wrestle momentum back for his side after a horror start which saw them down by 14 after as many minutes. Churned through 102 metres and made 21 tackles. 

9. Apisai Koroisau (Wests Tigers) 

An inspirational performance from the skipper as the Tigers silenced the outside noise with a superb victory. The crafty No.9 produced two try assists and five tackle breaks, while running 106 metres from dummy half and making 42 tackles before coming from the field with 12 minutes remaining as the Tigers triumphed 32-6.  

Got to be Api with that performance

10. Mitch Barnett (Warriors) 

Not scoring tries at the same rate as his prop partner Addin Fonua-Blake, but his defence was brutal as he racked up 33 tackles. Barnett hit hard and often as he cut down Raiders runners while also chalking up 150 metres himself from 15 runs. Goes about his business with a minimum of fuss but you can rest assured his teammates and coach are fully aware of his worth.

11. Viliame Kikau (Bulldogs) 

His best performance since joining the Bulldogs from the Panthers at the start of last season. Kikau made it his personal mission to harass the Gold Coast playmakers late in tackle counts and was rewarded for it on several occasions, including his first half try which came after a charge down. Laid on a nice final pass for Connor Tracey to score late on.  

12. Kai Pearce-Paul (Knights)

The Englishman has grabbed his opportunity to start in the back row with both hands over the past fortnight and now looks to have the spot locked down ahead of players like Dylan Lucas and Jed Cartwright. 'KPP' was among Newcastle's best as they downed the Storm in a tight contest at McDonald Jones Stadium. Used his 198cm frame to full effect to pop two offloads and power through 145 metres, while in defence he made a team-high 39 tackles. 

13. Victor Radley (Roosters) 

A tireless performance on both sides of the ball which saw him rack up some big numbers against the Rabbitohs. Radley loves playing South Sydney and it always shows, with his latest effort seeing him achieve a game-high 172 metres and the second-most tackles by a Rooster with 31.  

14. Reece Robson (Cowboys) 

Showed off his full bag of tricks from the bottom of the ruck with three try assists – two with nice pass selections to find forwards at close range and another from a crafty grubber kick in limited space. Played a big role in wrestling momentum back after the Dragons got out to a 18-4 lead and got through a mountain of work as usual in defence. 

Griffin Neame Try

15. Tohu Harris (Warriors)

Another strong showing in what has been an excellent start to the season for the Kiwi big man, who against the Raiders was responsible for a fair chunk of the grunt work that allowed the Warriors finish the stronger of the two sides in the final quarter. Went toe-to-toe with Joseph Tapine and Josh Papali'i in an 80-minute showing that included getting through a game-high 50 tackles. 

16. Junior Paulo (Eels)

Changed the game when he came on in the 23rd minute, setting up a try with a clever offload in one of his first touches and bringing a renewed pace with his line speed and strong carries. Part of a dangerous one-two punch alongside the earlier mentioned Reagan Campbell-Gillard.  

Mitchell Moses Try

17. Stefano Utoikamanu (Wests Tigers) 

Led from the front in a massive 60-minute stint at prop, with Cronulla unable to handle the 23-year-old's athleticism through the middle. With 178 run metres, 86 of which were post-contact, Utoikamanu's powerful runs set the platform for the spine to convert field possession into tries.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.