SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Maika Sivo of the Eels is tackled during the round 19 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at Bankwest Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

With the NRL heading into the final six rounds of the regular season and the top eight battle heating up, we thought we would take a look at the top five players who have surprised us this reason.

The players have been listed in accordance with their reputation, or lack thereof, coming into this season as well as the impact they have had on their team's fortunes in the 2019 season.


5. Ryan Papenhuyzen

A relative unknown heading into the 2019 season, Ryan Papenhuyzen signed for the Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2018 season after an impressive junior career at the Wests Tigers.

Standing at 181 cm and weighing in at a modest 80 kg, Papenhuyzen is incredibly the third-lightest player in the competition, but you wouldn’t know it off the back of his stellar performances in 2019.

A fullback by trade, Papenhuyzen made his debut in round four against the Bulldogs off the interchange bench and has gone on to feature in every game since for the Victorians.

While the opportunity to play long minutes has not been afforded many times, the pacey fullback from Oakhill has impressed in the limited time provided, registering four try assists and five tries in his 14 appearances, as well as an impressive 33 tackle breaks.

Having only been given the starting fullback jersey twice this season, Papenhuyzen has impressed on both occasions registering a try in each game. While he is on the lighter side, the Dundas Shamrocks junior does his best to prove the adage true that speed is power, often seen winding up at the first line of defence in order to wriggle through, and if he manages to do so, good luck catching him.

Still only 21 and with plenty more growing left in him, look for Papenhuyzen to lock down the Storm’s No. 1 jumper in the coming years.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm warms up during the round 19 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on July 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)