We’re at that time of the week again, for what is my team of the week using the points system I award at the end of every game to players on a 3, 2, 1 basis. Some fantastic performances this week, some players no doubt will resurface in this team once again – who has stood out for you and who would you pick?
Without further adieu, here’s this week’s Team of the Week:
1. Josh Dugan – If you’re a Raiders fan, you might be feeling a bit gutted. If you’re a Dragons fan, however, you’re over the moon with the way Josh Dugan has started his Dragons career. After his performance this week, he’d have to be a near certainty for NSW fullback, should Jarryd Hayne not be fit in time. Playing some of the best footy of his career and he’ll look to continue that, like Dragons fans would want.
2. Peta Hiku – Filling in at fullback for the injured Brett Stewart at Manly but also able to play wing, Hiku came up against his former side the Warriors and performed well at the back. Causing problems around the middle of the field and linking up well with his outside men, coach Geoff Toovey will have a tough decision on his hands as to whether he drops the youngster or retains him when Stewart returns. Does he change around a few positions?
3. Joey Leilua – Knights fans had to wait a while before they saw what he could do for their club but a rejuvenated and bulkier Joey Leilua is having great success at the Knights, even if their side isn’t winning games. Appearing heavier and bulkier than in previous years, Leilua is playing well enough to keep veteran Timana Tahu out of the side, which is no mean feat, as he uses his size and strength to overpower opposition defenders.
4. Edrick Lee – Another player that has come through the Raiders junior system that has gone from strength to strength. In and out of first-grade in the past, 2013 is the year that Earl has made one wing spot his own, even knocking off the more experienced Sandor Earl to keep his spot. Another solid display in a great season for him so far, and a player who can get around you with both strength and speed. He can do it easily, too.
5. David Nofoaluma – A young Tigers player who was given an opportunity due to injury, Nofoaluma, who was highly rated by Tigers fans has made a great impression so far for the side, proving to be a great talent on the wing. Able to finish a try and create one on his own, Nofoaluma in his brief first-grade stint, has shown that he has a bright future ahead of him, one that can flourish and be successful.
6. Gareth Widdop – Leaving the Storm at season’s end to forge an identity of his own away from the big 3 at Melbourne, Widdop played perhaps his best game all season, as he tore the Sharks defence to shreds with a mix of deft passing, beautiful kicking and a fantastic running game. With facets of his game perhaps unheard of or unknown given the emphasis on the big 3, Widdop showed what a talent he is when he has the ball in his hand.
7. Cooper Cronk – Arguably the best halfback in the game right now, after a string of somewhat quiet performances, Cronk showed why he is one of the best halves in the game, as he produced a scintillating display and all-round game to carve the Sharks team apart. Able to swing momentum in the Storm’s favour with just one play, it’s no wonder Cronk has been a mainstay of representative sides for several years now .
8. Ben Matulino – He might be starting off the bench more often than he starts, but that doesn’t stop the NZ representative prop from having a colossal impact. For the last few weeks, with the Warriors resurgence, Matulino has been their most consistent forward. Whether it’s making metres, breaking tackles or poking his head through a gap to create a half-chance, Matulino has once again shown why he is a top prop in the game right now.
9. Cam Smith Levitra – The best hooker in the game bar none. I or anyone could sit here and tell you why, but we’d be here forever. Smith has the ability to single handedly change a game whenever he feels like something has to change, and in his 250th game this week, it was his ability on show, as he too put in a fantastic performance for his side, leading from the front as captain.
10. Aaron Woods – Perhaps unlucky to have missed out on an Origin spot for NSW this year, it’s news that had Tigers fans cheering, as the young, in-form prop continues to go from strength to strength. Each week, it’s like he gets even better as he continually lays the platform for the other experienced forwards, despite being relatively new to the NRL arena himself. If his form continues, it might only be a matter of time before he’s recognised on the representative stage.
11. Greg Eastwood – When you think of the Bulldogs forward pack, Eastwood’s name is not the first one that will spring to mind, but don’t let that make you believe he’s just another player in the side. Bringing aggression, a competitive nature and a will to win to the side, Eastwood is a player that thrives on playing to the best of his ability. A tough, mobile player, he often causes problems for opposition defences with his great footwork near the line.
12. Peni Terepo – One of the best young talents to come out of the Eels junior system in recent times, Terepo is a player that gets better and better with more first-grade time. Getting at times, limited minutes, it’s Terepo’s work-rate that has Eels fans raving about him and his approach to footy both on and off the field. As his form continues and the season wears on, Eels fans will be hopeful that the club make the decision to retain the talented back-rower.
13. Shaun Fensom – When you think of a defensive workhorse, Shaun Fensom springs to mind. When you watch any game the Raiders are playing, it’s almost as if just about every tackle, you see Fensom there making the tackle or thereabouts. Don’t let that fool you into believing that he has no running game, though – he’s equally versatile in attack and links up well with his team-mates with a great ability to offload.
14. Martin Kennedy – A versatile, damaging forward when on song, Kennedy showed why he’s one of the best young, emerging props in the game, as he lead the way for the Roosters in the absence of some more experienced forwards. With a hunger to succeed and a want to do what he can to ensure his side wins, Kennedy hits the line hard and is a tough, hard-nosed player of the future.
15. Terry Campese – We all know of the injuries that have plagued his career over the last few years, but it looks like he’s finally having a good string of games, playing in several on the trot this year. Whilst his running game of old might not be as prominent, Campese’s stellar kicking game and fantastic all-round passing game haven’t left him, as he shines for the Raiders side and leads from the front, like a captain should.
16. Josh Reynolds – A determined and dogged individual on the field, Reynolds is a player that will play his heart out and play wherever the coach tells him to. Usually a five-eighth but able to cover hooker if need be, it’s his willingness to win and his effort that has him pegged as a fan favourite at the Bulldogs. Much loved by those at the club, the man nicknamed ‘Grub’ loves footy and is passionate about winning.
17. Mose Masoe – Not the first name you’d pick to be in your side if given an option of a whole range of props in the NRL, but what Masoe lacks in notoriety, he makes up for in size, strength, power and acceleration. A big forward who plays in the middle yet with the footwork and acceleration of a smaller player, Masoe is a player that is hard to tackle and he shows why, with some damaging runs in the middle third when required.
Player of the Week: Gareth Widdop