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2022-06-07 05:04:53 GMT
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The four leading options for the 2022 Ken Irvine Medal
At the halfway mark of the 2022 season, the race to claim the top try scorer award in the NRL is tight at the summit, with two tries separating the leading eight players.
After 13 rounds, Storm superstar Ryan Papenhuyzen leads the chase with 12 tries as an outright frontrunner, while a log jam of options narrowly follow his tail.
As we reach the first Origin window and markets on bet365 nz continue to cover what you need, we take a look at the leading options to take out the Ken Irvine Medal.
Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm)
The electrifying Storm fullback was on track to break records across the opening third of the season before succumbing to a hamstring injury.
Despite the layoff, the New South Wales speedster remains in pole position among the NRL's top try scorers, having crossed the chalk on 12 occasions from nine games.
A mid-season return is anticipated for the Clive Churchill Medal winner, who is likely to have lost his palace atop the leaderboard by then.
However, should Papenhuyzen return to his blistering form in the latter end of the year, then there's no ruling out his prospects of returning to the top.
Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
The reigning Ken Irvine Medal winner is back among the top scorers in 2022, looking to back up his stunning tally of 30 tries from last year.
The Rabbitohs flyer has scored 11 tries at the midway point of this year and can't be ruled out of the running until the end of the home and away season.
With the advantage of not featuring at Origin level, Johnston is sure to excel in the absence of others.
Now the Bunnies' all-time leading try scorer, the 27-year-old has plenty of time left to further cement his place at the top and will see this season as his best chance to do so.
Taylan May (Penrith Panthers)
The emerging centre has been the surprise packet of the season among the NRL's top try scorers, currently placed equal first with Papenhuyzen after 13 rounds.
May has recorded 12 tries from 11 appearances to be among just two players to be averaging greater than one try per appearance, having been the spearhead in Penrith's dominant attacking third to start the year.
Having not had a single try to his name prior to 2022, May is firming as the shock candidate to spoil the party and secure the Ken Irvine Medal at season's end.
Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm)
It seems Papenhuyzen's biggest threat is likely to be his teammate in Coates.
The pair have shared the spoils in Melbourne's high-scoring run to start the season and will continue to tussle for tries as the Storm continue to place opposition defences under pressure.
Origin duties will hinder Coates' chances throughout the year, but the Queenslander's ability to pick up bags of tries in a single 80-minute outing is what will keep him in contention.
One of two players placed on 11 tries after 13 rounds, Coates is well in the hunt to secure the top try scorer honours in 2022 and will see the coming rounds in Papenhuyzen's absence as his best chance to strengthen his prospects.