James Tedesco v Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
James Tedesco leads the NRL for tackle-breaks with an incredible 92 this season, with the next best in the league Roger Tuivasa-Scheck from the Roosters on 68. The Camden Rams junior also leads the Wests Tigers’ try-scoring tally with 11 in just 14 games, highlighting an incredible return from injury in 2015.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made his NRL debut in Round 5 last year for Penrith and has since excelled in the top grade, scoring 12 tries in 23 games. The St. Clair Comets junior also had a stellar junior career - playing for the Australian Schoolboys, Junior Kiwis and winning a Holden Cup premiership in 2013.
It’s a match-up between two of the NRL’s most exciting young fullbacks on Sunday as Tedesco and Watene-Zelezniak go head-to-head for the first time. Both players provide plenty of spark in attack, making for an enthralling spectacle for the Leichhardt Oval faithful.
Career Head-to-Head clashes: Yet to play at an NRL level.
NRL Fantasy Prices: Tedesco $432,000 (Season: +$90,000; Average: 51.7), Watene-Zelezniak $256,000 (Season: +$5,000; Average: 30.1)
Tim Simona v Dean Whare
Tim Simona will play his 50th NRL match this weekend after making his debut for the Club back in 2011. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Samoan International scored his first NRL try, funnily enough against the Penrith Panthers and has since notched up another 17 four-pointers.
One of the more experienced members of the Panthers backline, Dean Whare has scored 30 tries in 83 NRL games and represented New Zealand on nine occasions. Whare has the same junior club, the Arncliffe Scots, as Wests Tigers outside back Kevin Naiqama.
While Simona and Whare have met only once previously at an NRL level, they have also played each other once on an International level last year during the Four Nations tournament. It’s another exciting battle that looks set explode on Sunday afternoon, with the two outside backs known for their attacking prowess.
Career Head-to-Head clashes: Played 1 – Simona 1, Whare 0 (NRL games only)
NRL Fantasy Prices: Simona $240,000 (Season: -$9,000; Average: 32.3), Whare $240,000 (Season: +$1,000; Average: 30.9)
Chris Lawrence v Bryce Cartwright
Chris Lawrence’s move to the back row this season has seen the former Australian International increase his workload, highlighted by making over 100 metres in four of his past five matches. The Eaglevale St Andrews junior has also been busy in defence, averaging 28.5 tackles over his past four games.
Bryce Cartwright was the best player in a beaten side last week against the Bulldogs, scoring two tries, making 139 metres and three offloads in the 24-12 defeat. The St Mary’s Saints junior is another product of the 2013 NYC premiership-winning Panthers side who has amassed an incredible 32 offloads in 12 games.
Experience will mark-up against youth in this battle; however Lawrence’s shift to the unfamiliar position second row adds an element of unknown. Cartwright’s strong running game will no doubt put plenty of pressure on Lawrence, who has shown outstanding defensive efforts in recent matches.
Career Head-to-Head clashes: Played 1 – Lawrence 0, Cartwright 1
NRL Fantasy Prices: Lawrence $273,000 (Season: +$35,000; Average: 31.6), Cartwright $303,000 (Season: +$14,000; Average: 36.4)