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The NRL is back in a big way and so is the VB Hard Earned award, which celebrates the true toilers of the game who don't always get the credit.

Round three saw huge efforts from the underrated likes of Kurt Mann, Aiden Tolman and Tohu Harris, while guns including David Klemmer, Victor Radley and Daly Cherry-Evans also posted big numbers.

To recap what the VB Hard Earned award is all about, each round players receive a VB Hard Earned index score that is calculated by doubling their total runs and adding a point for every tackle, offload, decoy, support, charge down and tackle break.

Negative plays lower the index score. One point is taken off per missed tackle, while errors and penalties cost four points. Being sin-binned results in eight points being subtracted.

Each round a Team of the Week featuring the highest-scoring players in their positions is announced.

When the competition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic after round two, Broncos powerhouse Payne Haas had a one-point lead over Wests Tigers ironman Alex Twal on the overall leaderboard.

Following round three, Panthers lock Isaah Yeo has surpassed them both after his mammoth 90-minute performance in his team's golden point draw with Newcastle.

Forwards currently occupy the entire top 20 on the leaderboard.

Given the middle men, in particular, have an advantage due to their natural workloads, Mann's display for the Knights on Sunday was noteworthy.

The five-eighth was required to step up after fellow playmakers Mitchell Pearce (head knock) and Connor Watson (ankle) were forced from the field early against the Panthers.

He registered 25 tackles (three misses), 19 runs for 133 metres, two tackle breaks, two try assists and 17 kicks for 401 metres, earning an index score of 78.

Elsewhere, Warriors second-rower Tohu Harris notched an index score of 104 in his team's inspiring 18-0 win over the Dragons.

Harris made 48 tackles with only one miss as well as having 21 runs for 219 metres.

Another standout performer was Bulldogs prop Tolman, who was initially in doubt with a hip injury.

You couldn't tell, though, with the ever-consistent bookend totalling an index score of 107 with 53 tackles (one miss) and 17 runs for 138 metres in a loss to Manly.

On the topic of standouts in beaten sides, Dragons captain Cameron McInnes had an index score of 91.

The hooker, playing his first game of the year after a knee injury, made a whopping 75 tackles without any misses.