New South Welshman everywhere were wiping their brows after watching Dylan Napa fire the Sydney Roosters to a drought-breaking 17-10 win on Friday night over South Sydney.
The fiery red head was in everything, pulling off a series of monster hits, including a bone-rattler on Rabbitohs star Sam Burgess, and scoring a try as the Roosters scored their first victory of the NRL season at ANZ Stadium.
Napa’s was the kind of performance that would ordinarily have the young prop being sized up for his first Queensland State of Origin jumper.
However, the 23-year-old has been blacklisted for this year’s shield defence by the Maroons’ management for his part in the Emerging Origin camp scandal.
In an ironman 80-minute effort, Napa made 40 tackles, most of them leaving a Rabbitohs defender clutching at their ribs, as well as 151 metres from 19 runs.
Premiership-winning coach and Nine Network commentator Phil Gould described Napa’s first-half performance as: “one of the best defensive displays I’ve seen in 40 minutes of football from a forward, ever”.
The Rabbitohs looked the more likely in the opening exchanges, with Kirisome Auva’a blowing two near-certain tries, before the Roosters struck first with Jackson Hastings chipping perfectly for Daniel Tupou.
When Tricolours skipper Jake Friend sent Aidan Guerra crashing over, it looked like they would head into the sheds with a 10-0 lead but Aaron Gray pulled one back for the home side.
Napa provided the only highlight of an ugly second half when he pounced on a Hastings grubber to give his side a 14-point advantage.
The Roosters looked like a renewed and more-disciplined side, with the win relieving pressure on last year’s minor premiers as they went to 1-5 for the season.