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He started the season on the bench with a point to prove but Eels second-rower Isaiah Papali'i is now a genuine starter and among the game's hardest workers.

A revelation at Parramatta whose standout performances have been reflected on the VB Hard Earned Index, Papali'i posted the highest index score of round eight with 101 in a win over the Bulldogs.

The former Warrior knows his way to the try-line, having bagged five four-pointers in 2021, but he thrives doing the tough stuff.

Per VB data, Papali'i recorded 168m from 18 runs - 16 of those resulting in a gain of eight or more metres - as well as 42 tackles, three tackle-busts, three offloads, three decoys and two supports.

With those stats, he easily broke through the baseline of hard work given the average index score for his position is 53.3.

Another player who far exceeded the norm was Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (86) as he almost doubled the average index score for a fullback (47.7) in his team's victory over the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, ever-consistent Panthers winger Brian To'o's exceptional season continued against the Sea Eagles as he busted a whopping eight tackles and had 20 carries to finish with a score of 75.

Papali'i has jumped into second spot on the overall leaderboard but Penrith prop James Fisher-Harris, the 2019 VB Hard Earned winner, has retained the lead while Storm bookend Christian Welch has bolted into equal-third alongside Panthers lock Isaah Yeo.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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