With just 4 games and 8 teams playing this week, I’ll have to include a few players that were not awarded points to make up the numbers – players I believe also had a stellar game.
Despite fewer games this year, there was no shortage of top performers, with a lot of players putting in tremendous games to either guide their side to a win or lead them forward when it was required.
So, without further adieu, here’s the team of the week for Rd 15.
1. Ben Hampton – You might not have heard of this talented Storm player until he made his debut last night, but you have now. Forced to fill in and step up when Gareth Widdop went off injured, he did just that and added to an earlier try with some fantastic support play. He’s the future of the Storm and may well get a chance in the halves both this year and next year.
2. Tim Simona – It’s David Nofoaluma who gets the plaudits out of the Tigers wingers, but don’t underestimate the worth and value of the talented Tim Simona, who plays out of his skin every week and is constantly running hard, playing hard and working hard. A talented kid, he’s made the most of his opportunities in first-grade.
3. Jamal Idris – It was not that long ago that many were questioning his belief and desire to perform. Fast forward to the 2013 season, and you have perhaps one of the most improved performers in Idris, as well as one of the form centres of the competition. His work-rate and work ethic have improved tenfold, something that has propelled the Titans into the position they’re currently in.
4. Will Chambers – Perhaps one of the most under-rated centres in the game, the things Chambers does in a game to help the Storm to a victory often go largely unnoticed, but he’s slowly becoming a crucial part of their side. Showing his class today to help the Storm get back into the game, it’s no wonder his name has been tossed up as a potential QLD Origin candidate for the future.
5. Ken Sio – Criticised over recent weeks by Eels fans for not getting involved enough and struggling under the high ball, Sio did a lot of work to rectify that and played out of skin in a losing side. Proving his tremendous ability to create and finish off a try, Sio also showed his speed down the sideline off an intercept and proved some of the doubters wrong with a solid all-round performance.
6. Aidan Sezer – It has been his halves partner in Albert Kelly that has received all the plaudits of late, but Sezer has been going about his work quietly, except for tonight. Turning in a man-of-the-match performance and dictating the play well, Sezer’s goal-kicking is something to be admired as he rarely misses. He’s forming a dangerous partnership with Albert Kelly in the halves and the two are on fire.
7. Adam Reynolds – One of the best emerging halfbacks in the game, Reynolds has shown over the last few years that he can run to set up tries or score them, kick to set up tries and pass to set up tries, something he does frequently. Playing perhaps one of his best games of the year, the enigmatic and live-wire halfback was everywhere, as he helped his side to a win this week.
8. Tim Mannah – If you want to find any one player that epitomises what it means to be a Parramatta Eel, it’s Tim Mannah. Results wise, they’re not at their best, but when it comes to heart, drive, desire, passion and love for the club, you look no further than Mannah. Continuing his solid form this year, he led from the front and by example in the Eels forward pack.
9. Daniel Mortimer – On the NRL scrapheap not that long ago, it’s funny Online Blackjack just how quickly one’s fortunes can change and for Daniel Mortimer, that’s happened. Rediscovering himself and his form at the Sydney Roosters, he’s fast become a fan favourite for his enthusiastic and live-wire approach to the game when he comes on, often providing solid impact. Playing at halfback in the absence of the Roosters Origin halves, it was perhaps the most complete performance from Mortimer in his career.
10. Aiden Tolman – With all the focus on his fellow prop James Graham and his scintillating return to the NRL after his suspension, not a lot has been said about a player virtually identical to him in both style of play and looks – one Aiden Tolman. Enjoying some of his best form to date, Tolman is playing out of his skin and was in contention for an Origin role, a role that many believe he would be suited to if given a chance.
11. Sonny Bill Williams – After a lean run of games, SBW bounced back with a stellar performance, albeit one from five-eighth in the absence of the Roosters Origin halves. A position somewhat unfamiliar to him, he performed his role well and provided solid support and link play with his outside and inside men. With that game behind him, one would expect SBW to once again return to his ominous best.
12. John Sutton – Not that long ago, Sutton was a heavily criticised player at Souths. If you fast forward just 2 years into the future, though, since the emergence of Adam Reynolds as a halfback, Sutton’s overall game has improved in leaps and bounds, with the utility enjoying a career best year, one that he will look to build on as Souths build towards a minor premiership.
13. Shaun Fensom – Perhaps one of the most under-rated players in the game, if not the most under-rated, Fensom’s tireless work-rate and seemingly never-ending energy, is a big reason why the Raiders perform as well as they do. With a big motor to do the dirty work in defence and make the big tackles, combined with an equally big motor to run around all day, make metres and produce offloads at will, Fensom is the heart and soul of the Canberra club.
14. Boyd Cordner – Briefly mentioned for a potential spot a while back, Cordner has not done his Origin chances any harm in 2013, with another fantastic performance to go with a slew of top-notch games so far this year. Seemingly reborn under new coach Trent Robinson, Cordner has found his role within the side well and will look to build on this form.
15. Benji Marshall – With his prior inconsistencies well documented, it had an effect on the play of Marshall, who put in his best performance in recent times, guiding the Tigers to a much-needed win. Criticised for his lack of involvement at times and not justifying his pay packet, Marshall will have to seek the required consistency, though with the right attitude and approach and a desire to perform, he’ll slowly win back the support he needs.
16. Darcy Lussick – Usually starting off the bench for the Eels in recent weeks, Lussick was given an opportunity to start at lock and took it brilliantly. Offering aggression and power when hitting the ball up, Lussick played 65 minutes – the most for him this year – and helped the Eels forwards to gain the required momentum at times during the game. A hard-nosed forward, Lussick is a key part of the Eels side moving forward.
17. Mark Ioane – Regarded as a fringe player at the Titans, Ioane is often selected during the Origin period to make up the numbers for the club and he did his chances of retaining a spot no harm, putting in perhaps his best performance of the season so far. He ran hard, played hard and helped to continue the Titans momentum off the bench when they needed it most.