Yet another round has come to an end and we are at that time of the week again, the team of the week. Some great performances, some bad performances, but a list of 17 players has to be settled upon and here it is, the team of the week for Rd 17:
1. Anthony Milford – If you want to see a talent in the NRL, look no further than Anthony Milford. Quick, deceptive and an all-round brilliant player in attack, his versatility across the park is a great asset for the Raiders. When you watch him play, he reminds you a bit (at least he reminds me of it), of Preston Campbell, who was a great utility player himself.
2. Jorge Taufua – With that vacant NSW wing spot open before it went to McManus, Taufua’s name would have had to have been mentioned, after some great displays in recent weeks and throughout the season by the Manly winger. Last night he had a field day and with his size, speed and strength, for a winger, he’s a hard man to bring down and an asset that NSW could have used against the big QLD backs.
3. Dean Whare – A talented outside back who moved to the West to seek greener pastures and he hasn’t disappointed, with Whare a key part of the recent resurgence the Panthers have enjoyed. A versatile player in the back-field, it his link-up play that has him firing on all cylinders, as he combines well with team-mates to set them up for both tries and line-break assists, a stat he’s performing well in so far this season.
4. Tim Simona – As talk continues to grow regarding his future and where that will be, Simona hasn’t let it diminish his solid form, producing yet another solid display for the Tigers despite their loss this week. A big, mobile back, Simona loves doing the dirty work and getting stuck in, often helping out tiring forwards in defence with some great runs. Wherever he does go, he’s a player the NRL should keep an eye out for.
5. James Roberts – The talent that James Roberts has is evident from his blistering speed to his ability to break the line and his finishing skills, but the one thing that has been holding the young Penrith back in the past, has been persistent injury. It hasn’t been kind to him but if he can stay on the field and stay healthy, he too will be a valuable asset for the Panthers side moving forward.
6. James Maloney – He’s had a bit of a downswing in form leading into the Origin games but he bounced back well, with the enigmatic five-eighth the key behind the Roosters win. Regarded as one of the best hole-runners in the game, he pounces and waits for an opportunity to strike when a forward plans to offload the ball. Linking well with Mitch Pearce, Maloney will play a key role in the Roosters chances of premiership glory.
7. Adam Reynolds – One of the form halves in the competition at the moment, it took he and Souths a little while to find their mojo this week but when they did, they were electric. With a killer kicking game and a running game that is improving week by week, Reynolds has the ability to read the game well and know exactly where a player is going to be. With Souths off-the-cuff style of play sometimes, it suits him well.
8. Andrew Fifita – A barnstorming, bullocking and behemoth-type prop, there’s just no stopping Andrew Fifita at the moment. Admitting that starting from the bench is what gives him fire in the belly, he was unstoppable against the Tigers, scoring two tries – something unheard of by props in the past – as he cements his spot in the NSW Origin side and has one of the elite props in the NRL.
9. Cameron Smith – What a difference one round makes. Last week, Smith doesn’t play and the Storm lose. The next week, he plays and they Viagra win. Why? Thy answer is simple; Cameron Smith. One of the best hookers in the game, if not one of the best players, Smith has an uncanny ability to quite literally turn a match on its head. When he decides to flick the switch and lift the tempo of the game and his side’s intensity, opposition teams know they have to watch out.
10. Jesse Bromwich – With the focus on the big 3, the tireless efforts of the forward pack often go unnoticed but the form of Bromwich in 2013 has been great to watch. A big, agile forward, Bromwich hits the line up hard and with speed, possessing a great offloading ability. A staple of the side, he forms the core of the players that know they have to step up and help the Storm’s big 3.
11. Josh Papalii – When you think of form back-rowers in the competition, if Josh Papalii doesn’t spring to mind, he should. With the QLD selection on the horizon, Papalii gave a subtle message to coach Mal Meninga that he’s ready to play more minutes, after a brilliant display for the Raiders. A big man with great footwork close to the line, it’s his robust style that allows him to make so many metres and break the line.
12. Chris Houston – It was not that long ago that Houston found himself out of the Knights side and dwindling in the NSW Cup but after forcing his way back into the side, he has made a difference. Scoring two tries on the weekend, Houston has lifted his overall play and intensity since his return, providing a solid platform with the other Knights forwards, to give the backs a chance they need to make the plays happen.
13. Sam Burgess – When you’re in form, you’re in form and for Sam Burgess, he’s electrifying at the moment. Week in and week out, he seems to be in beast mode and works tirelessly and effortlessly. Along with James Graham, the duo are two of the best English imports the NRL has seen in recent times and Burgess will only continue to improve and impress as the weeks and years roll by.
14. Brett Finch – Given the chance to cement a long-term spot with the injury to Gareth Widdop, there were some critics of Finch early on but he has bounced back well, producing his best display of the year to help the Storm steam-roll the Broncos. A veteran half but a crafty one, Finch is slowly starting to find his feet this year and help to take some of the pressure off of Cooper Cronk.
15. Konrad Hurrell – Playing at centre but big enough and mobile enough to play in the back-row if push comes to shove, Hurrell epitomises the word beast in the NRL. Close to the line, he’s a machine, a powerhouse or whatever you want to call him and he showed that with a blistering solo effort. A hard-running forward, Hurrell’s a key player for the Warriors in the back-line, with the centre recently committing to Tonga for the 2013 World Cup.
16. David Shillington – Recently culled from the Queensland side, Shillington has taken the demotion well and has since played out of his skin. With the Raiders in a solid run of form, it is the work of Shillington coupled with the work of his team-mates in the forwards that has helped to lay the appropriate platform and foundation for the Raiders side. As signs look ominous, Shillington will look to continue that form.
17. Sam Moa – Roosters fans love him and his form has been tremendous all year, but he might well slide under the radar at the club somewhat given how well the likes of Hargreaves, Cordner and Williams are playing. Don’t let that fool you, though, as Moa has proven he can match it with the best in the NRL, as he enjoys a great run of form since his return from the Super League.
Player of the Week: Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks).