Despite how the old saying goes, some records just aren’t meant to be broken. Dave ‘The Bradman of League’ Brown’s staggering tally of 38 tries (in just 15 games!) for Easts in 1935 is likely to stand forever as a premiership record.
Brown’s phenomenal haul has barely been approached; Newtown winger Ray Preston came closest with 34 tries in 1954, while Souths flanker Les Brennan chalked up the third-highest total ever that same year with 29 touchdowns.
Since then, no player has managed more than 27 touchdowns in a season. Nevertheless, the premiership’s tryscoring machines still regularly break the magical one-try-per-game threshold across an entire campaign. The CBS Top 5 celebrates the highest individual try tallies of the NRL era – including three entries by a certain wing wizard from Tingha.
MOST TRIES SCORED IN AN NRL SEASON (1998-2016)
5. 24 – Semi Radradra (2015)
The big Fijian overcame a seven-week injury layoff to top the NRL’s tryscoring table in 2015, crossing 24 times in just 18 games. Radradra became the first player since the aforementioned Preston 61 years earlier to bag doubles in five consecutive games, a streak that included a hat-trick against St George Illawarra. Radradra left for French rugby union at the end of 2017 with the outstanding record of 82 tries in 94 first-grade games.
5. 24 – Nathan Blacklock (1999)
The Indigenous flyer topped the NRL’s tryscoring lists for the first time in St George Illawarra’s inaugural season as a joint venture. Blacklock’s 24th try of the season was an unforgettable long-range effort in the Dragons’ heart-breaking grand final loss to Melbourne.
2=. 25 – Brett Morris (2009)
Brett Morris made his Test and Origin debuts on the back of a brilliant 2009 campaign for Wayne Bennett’s rejuvenated Dragons, finding his way over the stripe 25 times in just 24 games for the minor premiers. ‘B-Moz’ nabbed hat-tricks in wins over Cronulla and Parramatta, and crossed four times in a losing effort against North Queensland, finishing above twin brother Josh (22 tries) on the premiership’s tryscoring table.
2=. 25 – Rhys Wesser (2003)
One of the genuine stars of Penrith’s euphoric 2003 premiership success, Wesser set a new all-time record for most tries in a season by a fullback, bettering the 22 tries Brett Mullins scored for Canberra in 1994. ‘Rhys Lightning’ scored three regular-season hat-tricks to edge out the likes of Francis Meli, Nigel Vagana and Matt Sing for the NRL’s tryscoring crown.
2=. 25 – Nathan Blacklock (2000)
Nathan Blacklock secured back-to-back tryscoring titles despite the Dragons’ failure to reach the 2000 finals, finishing a whopping seven tries ahead of his nearest rival at the end of the regular season. ‘Tingha’ only had five tries to his name at the halfway mark of the competition, but racked up an astonishing 20 tries in his remaining 13 appearances – including two hat-tricks and five doubles – to street the field.
1. 27 – Nathan Blacklock (2001)
Blacklock finished a mile in front again in 2001, in turn becoming the first player in more than 70 years to top the tryscoring charts in three straight seasons. In 13 games from Round 5 to 17, he notched 19 tries – including two hat-tricks. Blacklock’s treble against Wests Tigers featured arguably his greatest ever try, a last-minute match-winner from long range. For so long ignored by representative selectors, Blacklock’s 2001 performances saw him chosen in the end-of-year Kangaroo Tour squad.