‘Unbelievable’ Brian To’o is the NRL’s newest box-office stud
Brian To’o has continued to push his State of Origin credentials with a blistering performance against Newcastle as the Panthers winger develops into one of the most damaging ball-runners in the NRL.
Penrith beat the Knights 24-6 and To’o chimed in with a spectacular front-flip try in the corner, but the real story was his whopping 290 running metres.
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The 22-year-old is now averaging 232m per game in 2021 — up from 160m in 2019 and 162m in 2020 — all the while racking up 52 tackle busts and eight linebreaks in the opening seven rounds.
Whether it’s kick returns or taking tough carries coming out of trouble, To’o is one of the toughest players in the competition to pin down.
If he maintains his average running metres, he’ll be on track to beat Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s record (215m) from 2015, foxsports.com.au reports.
There’s obviously a long way to go before that happens but at the very least To’o can expect to be watched closely by NSW coach Brad Fittler as he considers his line-up for the first Origin match in June.
Daily Telegraph reporter David Riccio said To’o is “definitely in the conversation” when it comes to snatching one of the two wing spots in the Blues team.
Good luck stopping To’o in full flight.Source:Getty Images
“What a revelation he has developed into for the Penrith Panthers on that wing,” Riccio told SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“He reminds me of Sosaia Feki when Cronulla won the premiership in 2016 with those barnstorming carries and the ability to get Penrith on the front foot straight away with every first and second run.”
Penrith legend and Fittler’s Origin adviser, Greg Alexander, is in awe of how To’o has transformed himself into one of the Panthers’ most important players.
“It has been incredible how quickly he has come on,” Alexander told Fox League.
“I think everyone always had hopes for him and coming through the juniors he did basically the same thing — he was just a tank and no one could tackle him.
“He’s breaking more tackles than anyone in the game. The team rely on him so much.”
After Thursday’s game, rugby league writer Simon Brunsdon tweeted: “Brian To’o a lazy 290 metres tonight. Kid is unbelievable.”
To’o said recently he learnt to beat opponents as a child because he was always playing pranks on family members, and he’d have to evade bigger siblings and cousins as they chased him to get revenge.
Whatever his preparation, it’s certainly working for To’o.
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