NRL 2021: Kiwis contingent drive Canberra Raiders to victory against Wests Tigers

Canberra's Kiwi contingent were at the forefront as the Raiders topped Wests Tigers 30-12 in their round one NRL clash.

Joseph Tapine ran for 131 metres on 14 carries, while fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad led all players with 210 metres, scoring a try and adding two tackle-breaks.

International teammate Jordan Rapana also dotted down as the Raiders flexed their muscles early, to signal their premiership credentials.

Jordan Rapana scores
Jordan Rapana scores Photo credit: Getty

But it was new recruit Ryan James who stole the headlines in his first NRL game in 678 days.

The former Gold Coast Titans forward has suffered multiple injuries in the last three seasons, but was handed a career-lifeline by coach Ricky Stuart.

James scored a try in his 42 minutes, sparking a second-half surge that powered Canberra to victory. 

"I was happy for him that he got through that match," Stuart said of James.

"He's worked extremely hard all off-season, he's just a real professional and what I admired about Ryan, he came to Canberra earlier than he needed to start preparing for his season.

"He started training with our under 20s, you visualise they had with a guy such as his stature, 11 seasons as a NRL player and he's in the gym training with the 18 and 19-year olds."

"But he's worked his way through pre-season to be in the position to be in the side and for me I was just really happy for him that he got through what would have been a pretty nervous day for him, because he's had some bad luck with those couple of knee reconstructions."

Meanwhile, Cronulla Sharks got their campaign off to a winning start for the first time in eight seasons.

The John Morris coach side prevailing 32-18 over St George Dragons, who look set for any season fighting for scraps at the bottom of the table.

Leading 14-12 with 20 minutes to play, the Sharks added three late tries to blow out the scoreline and ease pressure on Morris who is an early-season favourite to lose his job.

William Kennedy of the Sharks scores a try
William Kennedy of the Sharks scores a try Photo credit: Getty

"We spoke about that game because we knew it was going to those sort of conditions today and our boys were tuned into how we wanted to complete our sets. It was only when we went away from that it actually hurt us.

"I think it is a good reward for a lot of effort that has gone in over the pre-season. We have certainly raised the bar with a few of the things we did getting ready for the year and I was confident coming here. We started really fast and I thought we won the game early getting off to that 14-0 scoreline."

Former NZ Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson didn't play as he recovers from an Achilles tear at the end of last season.