Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma will have a challenge on his hands this weekend when he comes up against New South Wales representative Josh Mansour in what will be a crucial clash in the game at ANZ Stadium.
Nofoaluma has been in excellent form recently, scoring a try in all three of his last starts against Melbourne, South Sydney and the Roosters.
The 22-year-old has also been impressive in creating second-phase play during those three games, getting 10 offloads away in what are often tough carries coming out of his own half.
Mansour, on the other hand, has a similar streak of four-pointers going as Nofoaluma with a try in each of his past four matches against the Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
The Panthers’ flyer earned himself a State of Origin debut on the wing for New South Wales this season, despite having already played for Australia in 2014.
Both players have a knack for taking the tough carries in their own halves, with Nofoaluma and Mansour both solid wingers who excel at getting their respective sides out of trouble.
While a lot of the focus will be on the James Tedesco and Matt Moylan battle, Nofoaluma v Mansour is one of a number of key clashes that could have a major impact on this match.
Nofoaluma and Mansour have met twice previously on an NRL level; taking one win a piece.
The pair first met in 2013 – with Nofoaluma crossing for the first double of his career in the 20-18 Wests Tigers’ victory at Penrith Park.
Mansour got one back on his opponent in their following encounter in 2014, with the Panthers recording a 26-10 victory at Leichhardt Oval.
In total, the Panthers winger has played Wests Tigers on five occasions with his record reading two wins and three losses since 2012.
Nofoaluma and Mansour were teammates earlier this season, travelling to Tamworth with the City Origin side to take on Country.
While Nofoaluma went down injured early on in the match, the City boys claimed the trophy with Mansour scoring a try in the 44-30 victory.
Tackle break battle…
Both players are among the game’s leading tackle breakers, with Nofoaluma currently ranked 8th in the NRL with 63 tackle breaks.
Mansour is not too far behind with 58 tackle breaks, which ranks him 13th in the competition and the most amongst his Penrith teammates.
With a number of strike attacking players in both sides, the defensive attitude of both sides will be a deciding factor in this must-win clash for both sides.
On more for his best season yet…
Nofoaluma needs just one more try to make 2016 his best ever season in terms of try-scoring, with the winger currently sitting on eight tries.
The Campbelltown product scored eight tries during his stellar debut season in 2013, in which he won the Dally M Try of the Season Award for his remarkable putdown against Manly-Warringah.
This match will also equal the most games Nofoaluma has played in one year at 15 matches, which he achieved twice previously in 2013 and 2014.