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Stat Attack: 'Halfback in the middle' Radley gets Immortal approval

No lock touches the ball more than Victor Radley with Immortal playmaker Andrew Johns lauding him as a "halfback in the middle of the field".

Aggressive defence earned the Roosters forward the moniker "Victor the Inflictor", but his ability to perform like an extra playmaker has set him apart.

Having returned from an ACL injury in round four, Radley has averaged just under 30 receipts per match and recorded more try involvements (five) than any other No.13 in six games this season.

The Tricolours, who face the Cowboys in Brisbane on Saturday for Magic Round, missed his steadying influence in last week's loss to the Eels as he played only nine minutes due to a head knock.

Disregarding that match, Radley's average ball receipts per outing jump to 34.2 - a figure not too far behind that of a five-eighth.

With star halfback Luke Keary suffering a season-ending knee injury a week before Radley's return, the forward's ball-playing ability has been of huge benefit to brilliant rookie No.7 Sam Walker.

The 18-year-old whizz-kid has taken the league by storm with 10 try assists in six starts, but as Johns recently noted on his Wide World of Sports show Immortal Behaviour, Radley often feeds him the pill.

"Victor plays the middle role and links – he's the ball-player, he's the halfback in the middle of the field," Johns said.

"If you think of the black dot [on the crossbar] – when the ball's 15 metres, 10 metres either side of the black dot, that's Victor's area.

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"Watch Victor – he links with his big men, gets them one-on-one tackles, then he links with his halves and his fullback. So Sam's killing it, but watch how many times Sam gets the ball off Victor."

When Radley has possession, defenders are on alert. He is averaging the most line-engaged runs (4.5 per game) of any starting lock in 2021.

And with opponents wary of the 23-year-old, not knowing if he'll run or tip-on, space is frequently created for teammates or himself.

"[Radley] provides toughness in defence but he also provides a lot of footy," Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello told NRL.com.

"He is a link between the halves and the forwards.

"He's got a great passing game and the ability to pull that back and have a good running game as well."

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Manly's Jake Trbojevic (26.1 receipts per game) and Penrith's Isaah Yeo (25.5) are other locks with superb ball-playing abilities.

Trbojevic fills a similar role to Radley, often standing at first receiver and playing short to a fellow forward or starting a backline move.

"[Radley] opens up the field," Johns said.

"That's the way the locks play now."

Radley also knows when to roll the sleeves up in attack, averaging a healthy 96 metres and 11 carries every outing.

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A NSW State of Origin debut is looming for the Clovelly Crocodiles junior. Minichiello believes Radley was "born" for that stage.

"He will be ripe for Origin. He is someone who will thrive in those conditions. He's a tough kid who loves to mix it up and plays footy. And that is what Origin is about," Minichiello said.

"Origin is not about structured play, it's about playing tough and when there is an opportunity you play some footy and that is what Radley does. He is no doubt suited to that [Origin] arena."