The stats and highlights don’t leap out and slap you in the face but no less a judge than Billy Slater has lauded the contribution of Dylan Edwards towards Penrith’s memorable run to Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Five tries and seven try assists has been the Albury product’s lot in 2020 as flashier rival fullbacks hog the limelight.
But Slater, the position’s standard bearer for so many years, knows dotting the Steeden down over the line is just the icing on the cake for a fair dinkum No.1.
Edwards, 24, has banished the ropier parts of his game this year with his composure in high stakes moments now comparable to both Slater and Panthers coach Ivan Cleary in their pomp.
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“He’s been a real contributor in 2020 and I’ve really enjoyed the development of his game, in particular under the high ball.
“He has had his moments in the past under the high ball, came up with a few errors and the communication side of his game wasn’t there, he didn’t keep his feet moving and once you start dropping these balls it can become a habit.
“It’s been a part of his game that he’s obviously worked on hard.”
Slater highlighted two clutch catches at the pointy end of the tense preliminary final win over South Sydney to underscore his value.
“There were some really big moments towards the end of the game and he just had that confidence to be aggressive up into the ball, kept his eyes on the target and takes the ball,” Slater said.
“A minute to go, a big moment leading into a grand final to save the day for his team, it looks like he does it with ease.
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“And that’s just through confidence.
“He’s obviously been working on that part of his game at training and it’s the only way you can get better at it, is repetition.”
Perhaps Slater’s greatest asset was his tireless running off the ball, constantly sniffing for an opportunity that may only eventuate one time out of 50.
And so it is high and meaningful praise when the former Storm superstar identifies some similar qualities in the hard working Edwards.
“He doesn’t get the fanfare that a lot of the other fullbacks get and he doesn’t have all of those great try assists and tries,” Slater said.
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“But he is a great support player and in the preliminary final, this was the match winning moment.
“Isaah Yeo busts them down the middle of the field and that anticipation for Dylan Edwards to be there, to finish off that try – that’s his game.
“He’s always there.
“Now he’s only in his 58th game, 13 in 2020 and a modest five tries and seven try assists this season.
“But he averages 200 run metres a game and that indicates his involvement.”
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Express rival fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is half Edwards’ price to score the first try on Sunday.
But for insight into some of the position’s more subtle tasks, it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on the man in black at the back.
“With so much strike on the edges, he just has to do his job,” Slater said.
“He’s ever reliable and a real unsung hero.
“There will be a black jersey flying through the middle of the field if the Panthers create a linebreak and he’ll have a No.1 on his back.”