NRL Round 8: Five standout performers from NSW Cup and QLD Cup


Round 8 is done and dusted for the NRL – but there were also some very tidy performances in the reserve grade competitions.

Dylan Phythian is edging closer to an NRL recall, while the likes of Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Campbell reminded their coaches of their ability in the No.1 jumper.

Here’s who stood out in NSW Cup and QLD Cup over the weekend. 

Dylan Phythian – Newcastle Knights

In a hard-fought 34-22 victory over Mounties, Dylan Phythian was the clear star for Newcastle on Sunday. 

A mature-aged player who made his NRL debut back in 2016 for the Knights, Phythian scored three tries and set up another during the 12-point win.

The 26-year-old also nailed two conversion attempts, made two linebreaks and 14 tackles in the Knights’ win. 

After NRL playmaker Jake Clifford was hooked in a horror loss to Melbourne, it looks like Phythian is a huge chance of making the jump to first grade soon. 

Tyrell Sloan – St George Illawarra Dragons

This kid is simply too good for reserve grade.

Tyrell Sloan again starred for the Dragons’ NSW Cup outfit over the weekend, crossing for a double in their 46-16 win over Wests Magpies.

The teenage fullback finished with a game-high 224 metres, made three linebreaks, produced three linebreak assists and one try assist in a breathtaking attacking display.

Sloan is stuck behind the experienced Moses Mbye in the No.1 jumper for the top grade, and given the recent form of the Dragons with three-straight wins, he may find it hard to break back into the side. 

But whenever his next opportunity comes in the NRL, Sloan is ready to take it with both hands judging off his recent performances. 

Josiah Karapani – South Sydney Rabbitohs

In a strong 26-12 win for the Bunnies in NSW Cup over Blacktown Workers, Josiah Karapani had his hands all over it. 

The teenage outside back scored a try, made three linebreaks and finished with a game-high 220 run metres for South Sydney. 

Already signed to the top squad, Karapani is incredibly talented and is capable of covering both wing and centre – something Jason Demetriou will surely look at given the lack of depth in the Rabbitohs’ backline.

This kid has been the talk of the town around Redfern in recent months, and if his form in NSW Cup continues, he might be ready for an NRL debut sooner rather than later. 

Jayden Campbell – Tweed Seagulls

After being sidelined for over a month due to a rib injury, Jayden Campbell returned via QLD Cup on the weekend and proved once again why the hype around him is so high.

The 22-year-old fullback was borderline unstoppable against Wynnum-Manly, despite his side going down in a 38-34 thriller on Saturday.

Campbell ran for 219 metres – more than any other player on the field – crossed for a try, made two linebreaks and 11 tackle breaks during his return to the paddock. 

Justin Holbrook now has a huge dilemma on his hands. AJ Brimson looked right at home back in the No.1 jumper against Penrith despite the side’s loss, but Campbell is a star in the making and needs to be in the NRL side in some capacity.

“I stayed up and watched him. He played which was great, but he even said that he needs a couple of games. Fullbacks have to run all day and he wasn’t quite there yet,” Holbrook said. 

“He just needs a couple of games to get his confidence firing and then he’ll be back in the mix.

“He’s just got to get himself right, play well and then he’ll be back in.”

Michael Bell – Townsville Blackhawks

In a nail-biting 29-28 victory over Redcliffe on the weekend, centre Michael Bell clearly proved the difference when you look at the score sheet.

Bell crossed for two tries, nailed four conversions and slotted the game-winning field-goal in the dying stages to give Townsville the win.

The 22-year-old also finished with 133 run metres, one linebreak and three tackle breaks as the Blackhawks cemented their spot inside the top-eight of the QLD Cup competition.

Bell has previously been a part of the Cowboys’ top squad and while Todd Payten’s side are performing well in 2022, there’s no doubt they will be keeping an eye on his progress if he continues to prove the difference in reserve grade. 

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