NRL: 'Unbelievable' Dallin Watene-Zelezniak soars to new heights as NZ Warriors overcome Manly Sea Eagles


That's the only way to describe NZ Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, if coach Andrew Webster has set any precedent.

Already enjoying a career-best season, Watene-Zelezniak has had another winning hand in the Warriors' 29-22 victory over Manly Sea Eagles.

Another hattrick saw two trademark dives for the corner and an effort that also saw him cut back inside to bump off defender Jake Arthur, then hold off Tolutau Koula and Ray Vaega to score.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scores against Manly Sea Eagles.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scores against Manly Sea Eagles. Photo credit: Photosport

Those three tries taken Watene-Zelezniak, 28, to 21 for the season - level with South Sydney Rabbitohs' Alex Johnston atop NRL rankings.

While Johnston's 21 have come in 21 games, Watene-Zelezniak has taken just 16 for an average of 1.31 tries per game. Dragons rival Mikaele Ravalawa is the only other averaging more than a try a game, with 19 from 18.

Webster only describes Watene-Zelezniak's display as "unbelievable" - five times. Asked if he is the best winger in the game, Webster doesn't even contemplate disagreeing. 

"Unbelievable," began Webster. "The way he's playing at the moment, he's got to be.

"Not only that, his defence has come a long way... how reliable he is, understanding where he's got to be for the team to make the right decision. He's just unbelievable.

"His yardage carries are unbelievable. The tries are the icing on the cake. 

"I've got to give him praise for that, because he's a freak at it. He's unbelievable.

"That try back on the inside was great, but his defence, his yardage carries, how reliable he is for the team - unbelievable.

"I think he's in great form. He's got to be one of the best NRL wingers, if not the best.

"He was definitely the best player on the field tonight, that's for sure."

Before his standout 2023 campaign, Watene-Zelezniak's best season tally in a season was 12 for Penrith Panthers in 2016.

With two regular season games to go and the Warriors sealing a finals spot, he's well placed to double that number by the end of the campaign.