My how time flies. Here we are for another week, the Team of the Week. Round 19 already – can you believe it?!
Here’s my team of the week. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment, a Twitter mention or anything else you want – feedback is good.
And without any more suspense, here it is:
1. Brett Stewart – Whilst he may not quite be at that elite level that we all know he is capable of given an earlier stint with injury this year, the Manly custodian & club legend is fast getting back to that form, putting in a five-star performance for his Manly side. A fullback that can chime in from the back and act as an additional playmaker, his tools and assets from the back in that regard are a valuable asset for the club.
2. Akuila Uate – It’s not often you see this Fijian flyer go seven games without scoring a try but to his relief and to that of the Newcastle fans, the drought is no more. The former NSW rep player was at his blistering best, as his power and strength were on show in the Knights win over the Panthers. With a key passage of play coming up for the Knights, Uate’s game-breaking ability from the wing and his powerful running style may prove to be a handy asset for the club moving forward.
3. Tim Simona – A versatile back, the talented Tigers player has gone from strength to strength since making his debut earlier this year and is one of the Tigers most in-form players. Doing some tremendous things on the field, he went one better in his side’s loss to the Warriors, scoring what was perhaps the best individual try of the season with a lovely run and kick-and-chase. The scary thing is, he’ll only get better.
4. Jamie Buhrer – Usually a back-rower but capable of filling in at centre, Buhrer’s minutes from the bench for Manly at times have been rather sporadic. With not much of a chance to make the most of them sometimes, Buhrer took his opportunity of increased minutes and went with it. With the chance to inject himself into the game and impact it in some way, the interchange forward proved to be a vital piece towards the Manly win and will look for similar performances with similar game-time.
5. Josh Dugan – Whether it’s the change of club, an admission from him that things were not previously rosy or both, there’s no denying that Dugan is currently one of the form players for the Dragons. Bursting onto the scene since he signed with them, he has been influential from the back and was just as key to their attacking chances in this game as he has been in past ones. It was his game-changing final play that led to the match-winner, something that Dragons fans are excited to see more of in the future.
6. Shaun Johnson – When you look at Shaun Johnson, the talent is there and it is evident for all to see all of the time. With that, however, comes inconsistency, a trait that disturbs many a Warriors fan. What will not disturb them, though, is the way their halfback single-handedly turned the game around against the Tigers and led them to victory. Whether it was kicking, passing, running or just knowing what to do, he was the key and in that sort of form, anything is possible for the Warriors.
7. Mitchell Pearce – Heavily criticised for a number of reasons throughout his career but none more so for not stepping up in Origin when required – at least judging by the reactions of some fans – there was not a better way to bounce back then with a stellar performance for the Roosters in their easy win. With the ball seemingly under his spell, Pearce laid on three lovely passes for his team-mates to score and was a constant threat for the Sharks defensive line.
8. Kade Snowden – Just last year, it was clear that Snowden was not at his best nor in the form Knights fans wanted him. For whatever reason that was, it just didn’t happen. Fast forward a year, though and 2013 has been one of the best seasons of his career, as the prop forward leads from the front and sets the tone required in attack for his side. Forming a lethal combination in the front-row with Willie Mason, the duo have helped to lay the required platform for the Knights so far this season.
9. Craig Gower – There were some people scratching their heads at the signing of Gower, just as others were willing to give him a pokies slots chance and see how he’d fare. If you’re wondering, he’s fit in and gelled well with the Newcastle players so far and recorded his first try in the blue and red colours of the Knights. Whilst getting on in age, the experience Gower brings to the table along with fellow hooker Buderus is something that inspires the younger players and something that Knights fans hope can get their side over the line in big games and the games that matter.
10. Sam Moa – He was already playing well before his injury but whether his stint on the sidelines gave him new life or unleashed some sort of further inner ability, the recent play of Sam Moa has caught the eye of many-a-Rooster fan and that of international sides. With spots on the line heading towards a big World Cup coming up later this year, Moa is a chance to feature in a number of sides, depending on who he chooses and where he wants to play. As for his Roosters form, he’s been on fire and close to one of the buys of the season.
11. Anthony Watmough – He may not be the sort of player that every fan likes, but there’s no denying that when it comes to raw ability and the ability to change a game, Watmough has it. Whether it’s with a power running game mixed in with darts and jives, or an unheralded passing game, the Manly and rep back-rower is a key contributor to the ever-improving cog that is the Sea Eagles. When at the top of the game, he is quite easily one of the best back-rowers in the game.
12. Sam Burgess – Yet again, that Englishman makes it into the Team of the Week. There just seems to be no stopping the man regardless of the opposition or the players he comes up against. At his phenomenal best, Burgess, you would think, is a shoe-in for selection to the English World Cup squad and with the form he’s in, that bodes as a scary thought for opposition teams.
13. Trent Merrin – Another player coming off Origin, he was made to start off the bench but he is the sort of player that can thrive in that situation and it was no different for Merrin this week, as he came on and pulverised his opponents and had a field day. Big hits, big metres, big runs and a try to go with it. With this sort of form, he will no doubt retain any future Origin spot.
14. Terry Campese – Troubled by injuries over the last couple of seasons, the climb back to the elite level was a tough one for Campese but having played close to 12 games now on the trot and slowly gaining confidence, Campese’s game has found its feet again. With the Raiders poised to make a decent charge towards the NRL finals, the work of their veteran half has propelled them to the position they are. Whilst not running how he wants due to the prior knee injuries, his passing and kicking game make up for it.
15. Boyd Cordner – If there was ever anyone currently in form, it’s this man – Boyd Cordner. Coming off an Origin debut for NSW – even though the result wasn’t what he would have planned for – Cordner also bounced back well in a game that saw him score a double and contribute heavily in other areas. Doing his chances of future Origin selections no harm, it’s now only a matter of time before the Roosters back-rower becomes a mainstay of the NSW side that will look to improve as the years go on.
16. David Shillington – Omitted from the Origin squad earlier this year for what was deemed as a poor run of form, the Raiders prop has made it a personal mission of his to show that he can play consistently and go toe-to-toe with the best and that’s what he’s done. The rep prop has continued his tremendous form with another colossal amount of metres, as he lays the platform for the Raiders to create, attack and have the opportunity to score points and put the opposition under pressure.
17. Anthony Milford – Perhaps the best young talent in the NRL right now, don’t let the size of Anthony Milford fool you. A quick, deceptive and classy young player, Milford has all the talent to succeed in the NRL long-term. Able to cover a variety of positions across the back-line, his recent move to fullback has done wonders for his game, with the young gun excelling in just about every facet with his game-breaking ability.
Player of the Week: Kade Snowden