With a new team in the NRL Telstra Premiership, four new teams in the NRLW competition, two women's Origin games for the first time and a modern-day giant winning three straight titles for the first time in 40 years, 2023 dished up something for everyone.
Freaks and flyers, tackling machines, try machines and the Green Machine, new records and old favourites.... take a look back at the season that was!
Season 2023, by the numbers
100. Metres … and a few more. The distance covered by Knights centre Enari Tuala when he picked up a loose ball in his own in-goal and ran the length of the field to score against the Bulldogs in Round 24.
99... 1999 that is. The year the Storm came from 14 points down to defeat the Dragons in the NRL grand final. The biggest comeback ever in a grand final until Penrith recovered from 16 behind to beat the Broncos.
98. Tackle breaks for Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to go with seven tries, eight line breaks and eight try assists in a stellar season for the 28-year-old.
97. Percent. The Panthers’ outrageous completion rate in trying conditions in the grand final. The champs completed 37 of 38 sets in the big one.
96. Points from 24 tries for Jamayne Isaako. Throw in 146 points from 73 goals as well as two field goals and you’ve got season high 244 points for the Dolphins winger. Isaako became the first man since Canberra’s Mal Meninga in 1990 to top the tryscoring and pointscoring in the same season.
95. Fantasy points for Panthers supremo Nathan Cleary in the NRL grand final. The next best Panther was James Fisher-Harris with 54 points while Payne Haas led the way for the Broncos with 78 points.
Cleary wins Churchill Medal
94. Goals by Adam Reynolds this year, the most by any player in the NRL. The Brisbane veteran finished the season with an 81.7 percent success rate off the tee.
93. Tries scored by the Cowboys in the regular season, down from 108 the previous year.
92. Tackle breaks between them for backline stars Tamika Upton (59) and Sheridan Gallagher (33) as the Knights marched to the NRLW premiership.
91. Goals kicked by Storm fullback Nick Meaney in 2023 at a handy success rate of 78 percent. Throw in 10 tries for a personal haul of 222 points – the second highest tally in a season for the Storm behind Matt Geyer’s 242 points in 1999.
90. Minutes in Mudgee in Round 5 and still the Knights and Sea Eagles couldn’t be separated as they fought out the season’s only draw (32-32).
An action packed last play in Mudgee
89. Minutes it took to get a result in the extra-time thriller between the Knights and Raiders that eventually saw the Raiders knocked out 32-30 after a late Kalyn Ponga penalty goal broke the deadlock.
88. Line engagements for Roosters playmaker Tarryn Aiken in a stellar season that saw her collect Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year honours.
87. Blockbusting Eels winger Maika Sivo’s career try tally after crossing 20 times in 2023. Sivo will have his eyes set on becoming the fourth man to score 100 tries for the club after Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne and Brett Kenny.
Sivo scores a hattrick!
86. Raiders legend Jarrod Croker’s goal kicking success rate in his final season with the Green Machine. Croker landed 59 of his 68 shots and scored three tries to take his career tally to 2374 points, third all time behind Cameron Smith and Hazem El Masri.
85. Percent. Cowboys five-eighth Tom Dearden’s tackle efficiency rate, taking down bigger men on a regular basis and more than holding his own in defence.
84. Wins for Stephen Crichton in his 100 games with the Panthers. A stunning strike rate as he now heads on to the Bulldogs.
From the Winner's sheds: Stephen Crichton
83. Career games for Panthers rake Mitch Kenny with just the two tries – the first in Round 5, 2022 against the Bulldogs and the second on a slightly bigger stage in the 2023 grand final against the Broncos.
82. Percent. The Broncos' completion rate in their preliminary final demolition of the Warriors before that dropped to just 71 percent in the decider against the Panthers.
80. Tackle breaks by Titans fullback Evania Pelite in 11 games, the most in the NRLW. Broncos centre Mele Hufanga was second with 71.
79. Runs between them for Penrith’s starting forward pack in the grand final, James Fisher-Harris leading the way with 20, closely followed by Isaah Yeo on 19. The Broncos’ starting six had 61 runs.
78. Tackle breaks between them for Knights back three Kalyn Ponga, Dom Young and Greg Marzhew who sparked countless attacking raids for their team.
77. Post-contact metres per game for Sharks centre Annessa Biddle, who capped a superb debut season by being named NRLW Dally M Rookie of the Year.
Biddle named NRLW rookie of the year
76. Number of linebreaks by the Broncos to lead the NRLW in that category, one ahead of the Roosters on 75. Premiers Newcastle came up with 66 linebreaks for the season.
75. Number of games Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards has won during the past four seasons after winning just 28 across his first four seasons at the club.
74. The average points per game Nicho Hynes generated in NRL Fantasy in 2023. Despite missing the start of the season through injury, the Sharks' No.7 returned to be the top scorer once again, with his average putting him just ahead of fellow HLF Nathan Cleary.
73. Career tries for Anthony Milford, who fought his way back into Wayne Bennett’s top 17 at the Dolphins late in the season and brings plenty of experience to the table for the NRL newcomers.
72. Number of players who made their NRL debut in 2023, the Bulldogs and Dolphins topping the list with nine apiece.
71. Try assists from the Dolphins in their inaugural season. Kodi Nikorima (18) had the most of any player in the team.
70. Total tackles made by Knights back-rowers Leishon Albert-Jones, Hannah Southwell and Yasmin Clydsdale between them in the NRLW decider against the Titans.
69. Origin wins for Queensland since the concept began in 1980. The Maroons added two to their tally in 2023 as they took the series 2-1. The Blues have 58 wins over the 43 years of Origin.
68. Total points scored by the Maroons across the Origin series as they made it two series wins in a row against the Blues, who could muster only 48 points.
67. Minutes into the grand final when Stephen Crichton crossed for the Panthers - the fourth consecutive grand final he had scored a try.
66. Score racked up by Wests Tigers in their stunning win over the Cowboys in Round 12 in front of the Leichhardt faithful.
65. Minutes gone in Origin III when Bradman Best crossed for his second try to wrap up the win for NSW and ice a memorable Blues debut for the Knights centre.
Two on debut
64. Total points scored at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Round 11 when the Cowboys beat the Dragons 42-22. The Dragons played in six games where 60 points or more were scored, losing five of them.
63. Shaun Johnson’s average NRL Fantasy score each week in a terrific return to form for the veteran playmaker.
62. Tries scored by the Knights across their 10-game winning streak between Round 18 and the elimination final.
61. Missed tackles by the Panthers in the grand final.
60. Goals by Wests Tigers, the fewest of any team in the NRL. Penrith were the most with 117 from their 27 games.
58. Points in an absolute barn burner of an elimination semi between the Knights and Raiders that went to extra time and was won 30-28 by the Knights.
57. Years since the mighty St George juggernaut won the last of their 11 straight premierships. The Panthers go in search of four in a row in 2024.
56. Total number of Dally M points racked up by Kalyn Ponga on his way to winning the game’s most coveted individual award.
Kalyn Ponga's 2023 Dally M reel
55. A new record for most tries scored in an NRLW season, set by the Roosters in 2023, just one more than the Broncos with 54.
54. Tackles by Olivia Kernick in the Women’s Origin series, the most of any player.
53. Total errors made by dynamic Broncos fullback Reece Walsh. That number was eight more than the next worst offender, Dom Young.
52. Offloads by Bryce Cartwright in a superb return to form with the Eels, the second most of any player behind teammate Shaun Lane (54).
51. North Sydney Bears halfback Ben Stevanovic had 27 try assists and 24 linebreak assists for a total of 51 huge plays in a stellar season as he led his side all the way to the NSW Cup grand final.
50. Number of finals game Storm supremo Craig Bellamy has coached, winning 31 and losing 19.
49. Tries in the career of Storm winger Xavier Coates, who added 16 to his tally in 2023 and claimed the club’s player of the year award.
48. Thousand plus change. The crowd on hand at Adelaide Oval to witness the opening game of the 2023 Origin series, a 26-18 win for the Maroons courtesy of late tries to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Cameron Munster.
47. Percent of the Dolphins' overall 520 points, that's what Jamayne Isaako accounted for in the club's debut season. The flying winger scored 24 tries and kicked 73 goals to lead the Telstra Premiership in points scored with 244
46. Average tackles per game of Titans captain Georgia Hale, the highest average from any player in either the NRL or NRLW competition.
All Hale Georgia
45. Games in the NRLW regular season in the expanded 10-team competition, with 18 of those decided by 10 points or less as a thrilling battle for supremacy played out.
44. Runs between them for NSW fullback James Tedesco (18) and winger Brian To’o (26) in Origin III as the under-siege Blues saved face in front of their home fans.
43. Percent of South Sydney's tries came on their left edge in 2023, down from 48 percent in 2022 and 55 percent in 2021.
42. Tackles per game for workaholic Storm hooker Harry Grant, who made 1065 tackles in 25 games, most in the NRL ahead of Rooster Nat Butcher (1062).
41. Tackles made by Broncos prop Payne Haas in the grand final to go with 14 runs for 150 metres. A herculean performance which almost got his team across the line.
40. Years between reserve grade premierships for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who beat Norths in the NSW Cup grand final to break a four-decade drought in the NSWRL’s premier men’s competition.
Turuva claims rookie of the year in 2023
39. Years between Dally M Rookie of the Year awards for the Panthers – Greg Alexander taking the gong in 1984 and Sunia Turuva becoming Penrith’s second winner in 2023.
38. Linebreak assists by Burleigh Bears five-eighth Guy Hamilton in the Hostplus Cup to go with 33 try assists as he led his team all the way to the grand final.
37. Number of 40-20 kicks in the NRL in 2023 with Reed Mahoney, Nathan Cleary and Lachlan Croker leading the way with four apiece.
36. Linebreaks by the Dragons in the NRLW season at an average of four per game. Only wooden spooners Parramatta had less with 27.
35. Offloads by Addin Fonua-Blake in 2023, the only Warrior to feature in the top 50 in the NRL in that category.
34. Points conceded by the Panthers across their three finals games, just two more than they gave up in the 2022 finals.
33. Linebreaks for Ronaldo Mulitalo, the most in the NRL – one more than Newcastle’s Dom Young. The Sharks flyer also reached his mark in two less games.
32. Points per game conceded by the Bulldogs in 2023, the worst defence in the NRL. The Dragons and Wests Tigers finished below Canterbury on the ladder but only gave up 28 points per game.
31. Points per game scored by the Roosters’ NRLW side in 2023 as they piled on 284 points in the regular season, a new record.
30. Minutes. That’s how long we had to wait for the first try of the 2023 season, scored by Eels centre Will Penisini against the Storm at CommBank Stadium.
28. The age at which Mele Hufanga made her NRLW debut this year. The powerful Kiwi went on to score 10 tries in as many games and averaged seven tackle busts. She was rewarded with selection in the 2023 NRLW Dally M Team of the Year.
27. Runs by Dylan Edwards in the grand final as the Panthers No.1 again stamped his class on the biggest game of the year. Edwards ran for 306 metres, topping the 291 metres he accumulated in the 2022 decider when he took home the Clive Churchill Medal.
26. The Dolphins' record comeback to beat the Titans in Round 8 at Suncorp Stadium. Trailing 26-0 after 29 minutes, Wayne Bennett's men powered home to win 28-26, equalling the all-time biggest comeback in premiership history.
25. Knights winger Dom Young’s try tally in 2023, smashing the old club record of 21 held by Timana Tahu (2002) and Akuila Uate (2010).
NRL try time: Dom Young
24. Tries for the flying mullet Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, setting a new mark for tries in a season at the Warriors. David Fusitu’a (23 in 208) and Francis Meli (23 in 2003).
23. Years since Wests Tigers entered the competition, claiming one premiership in 2005 and two wooden spoons in 2022 and ’23.
22. Years since the Newcastle won their last premiership. A 10-game winning streak had the Knights faithful daring to dream of the club’s third title but the fairytale ended at the hands of the Warriors in week two of the finals.
21. Tries in 2023 for Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston, taking his career tally to 187. Johnston is 25 tries away from equalling the premiership record of 212 held by Ken Irvine.
NRL try time: Alex Johnston
20. Tries in his debut season for Titans flyer Alofiana Khan-Pereira. The record for a rookie is 28 by Balmain’s Bobby Lulham in 1947.
19. Tries in 2023 for Eels fullback Clint Gutherson who is now just nine short of a century of tries. The gun No.1 also needs just 10 games to bring up 200 NRL appearances.
18. Number of tries scored by Broncos young gun Ezra Mam, equalling the record for most tries in a season by a five-eighth, alongside Arthur McCabe (Souths 1910), Trent Barrett (Illawarra 1998) and Ben Walker (Northern Eagles 2001)
17. Years since the Broncos won a premiership. That’s how many minutes were left when Moses Leota scored and the tide started to turn.
16. Minutes. Time it took the Dolphins to create history at Suncorp Stadium in Round 1 when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow crossed for their first ever try.
15. Number of short dropouts by Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds in 2023. The veteran No.7 would like at least two of those back after they led to a simple Panthers try in the 18th minute of the grand final and another two points in the 30th minute when he put it out on the full.
13. Seconds remaining on the clock when Mat Feagai crossed for a miracle try for the Dragons to snatch victory over the Roosters in Ryan Carr’s first game as interim coach in Round 12.
12. Losses in 12 away games for the Dragons in 2023. The Red V’s only wins came in home games at Netstrata Jubilee (three) and WIN Stadium (two).
11. Away wins for the Broncos in 2023. Kevin Walters’ men had a remarkable 11-1 record in away games, their only loss coming against the Storm in Round 11 at AAMI Park.
10. Golden point games in 2023 as well as the extra-time elimination final between Knights and Raiders
9. Tries in nine games for Titans superstar Jaime Chapman in the 2023 NRLW season, including a hat-trick in the grand final loss to the Knights.
8. Number of places the Cowboys fell on the ladder to 11th after finishing third in 2022 and making a preliminary final. The other big slider was Parramatta from fourth to 10th.
7. Wins for the Bulldogs in 2023, the same number they had in 2022 despite adding Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney to their squad.
6. Number of times Eels winger Maika Sivo was charged by the match review committee in 2023, paying a total of $11,800 in fines and missing four games late in the season for a careless high tackle.
5. Games in a row the Titans scored 26 points. In Round 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 they scored 26 points, winning just two of those games.
4. Players who joined the 300 Club in 2023 – Jesse Bromwich, Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans and Jarrod Croker.
From Goulburn to greatness: Croker to hit 300
3. Number of players that have won the coveted Clive Churchill Medal twice, with Nathan Cleary joining Canberra’s Brad Clyde (1989 and 1991) and Melbourne’s Billy Slater (2009 and 2017) as the only two-time winners.
2. Wins for Parramatta over premiers Penrith in 2023. The season didn’t go to plan for the Eels but they were the only team beat the Panthers twice.
1. Career try tally for Wests Tigers prop Alex Twal in 124 games. He broke his drought in Round 16 against the Storm in his 116th game.