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.

4. Briton Nikora

Hailing from his native New Zealand before completing his schooling at renowned rugby league nursery Keebra Park, Briton Nikora was signed ahead of the 2016 season to join the Sharks under 20s squad.

Having impressed during his two-year stint in the Holden Cup under 20s, Nikora graduated to the Sharks’ senior squad ahead of the 2018 season and played the year out with Cronulla’s feeder side the Newtown Jets.

After a consistent first season in senior football and with Wade Graham set to miss the start of the 2019 season following an ACL injury, Nikora was selected to make his debut as a starting second-rower in round one of the 2019 season.

Since then he has come along in leaps and bounds, forging a reputation as a strong and hard wide running backrower, Nikora’s performances even went so far as to earn him a test debut for the Kiwis against Samoa in the recent pacific test, as well as a bumper contract upgrade and extension until the end of 2022.

The explosive backrower is now widely considered one of the top contenders for the rookie of the year award, registering four tries, eight line breaks and possessing an impressive 89% tackle efficiency rate on the edge.

Alongside Wade Graham, Kurt Capewell, and Jack Williams, the Sharks have a nucleus of back-rowers that opposition teams could only dream of.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 03: Briton Nikora of the Sharks celebrates scoring a try during the round eight NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Melbourne Storm at Shark Park on May 03, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)