Ricky Ricardo’s picks for the best players coming from all the NRL action in last weekends Round 15 clashes:
Fullback: Billy Slater â€“ Billy the Kid is at it again with another sublime performance over the weekend, once again showing his strong combinations with Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
Winger: Beau Ryan â€“ The often under-rated Tigers back showed his metal with a two- try haul in the Tigers win. He is often regarded as the heart of the Tigers club as he gives 100% regardless of the scoresheet.
Centre: Steve Matai â€“ Whilst at times, he may be seen as a serial injury faker, thereâ€™s no denying the skill that this man has at his disposal. He scored two tries despite suffering an injury earlier in the game. Showed great resolve to keep on going.
Centre: Kyle Stanley â€“ This young man continues to come up with the goods. Initially thrust in by Bennett during the first Origin period, he grabbed the opportunity with two hands and is showing why Bennett showed faith in him to begin with. Possible bolter for Rookie of the Year.
Winger: Justin Oâ€™ Neill â€“ The unheard of Melbourne Winger scored three tries in the Storms demolition of the Cowboys. Whether or not he can maintain his form remains to be seen, but both he and Duffie are wreaking havoc on the wings for Melbourne.
Five-Eighth: Trent Hodkinson â€“ Headed to the Dogs next year, you would have thought his game would diminish right? Far from it! Kicked two field goals in the space of five minutes to tie and then win the game for the Sea Eagles. Itâ€™s almost unheard of, but a very gutsy move that paid off for the Sea Eagles.
Halfback: Ben Barba â€“ Coming off the bench, the utility has been rewarded with a starting spot this week following a two try effort in the Bulldogs narrow loss to the Titans. He is a player for the future, and the Bulldogs will want to hold onto him to form a strong combination with new recruit Trent Hodkinson for 2011.
Prop: Tim Grant â€“ Often in the shadow of Petero, the young Panthers prop has proved this year that he is star of the future. A fantastic player who can make metres and tackles, and could be a bolter to start in Origin 3.
Hooker: Isaac Luke â€“ Behind Cameron Smith, Luke is perhaps the best hooker in the game right now. He scored two tries in the Bunnies narrow loss to the Sea Eagles, and would have scored at least 2 points in the Dally M Charts despite the loss. If only he was a NSWelshman hey? 😛
Prop: Trent Merrin â€“ Another unheralded player given a shot by Bennett has taken it with two hands. Was definitely the Dragons best forward on the night, and will be looking to emulate those performances for the rest of the year.
Second Row: Mark Minichello â€“ The lesser known Mini brother, but equal in talent, had a stellar performance in the Titans win. Scored a try, made the metres and tackles as usual, and is an outside chance for Origin.
Second Row: Justin Horo â€“ This man is the future of the Eels second row and is almost guaranteed a starting spot at Lock in 2011 once Mateo departs. Scored the Eels only try, and is very creative for a second rower. Similar to Mateo in many ways.
Lock: Paul Gallen â€“ At club level, there is perhaps no better player at club level. He makes the metres and makes the tackles, and is the heart and soul of the club. Origin level though is a different ball game with the penalties and poor judgment often his downfall and the reason for constant criticism.
Player of the Week: Justin Oâ€™Neill.