The end of another round and the start of another team of the week. Will you agree or disagree with the players chosen? Remember, it’s all based on a certain criteria.
So, without further adieu, here’s the side:
1. Anthony Milford – It’s hard to believe that at his age, you can play so well and at such a consistent level but for this young Raiders back, he takes all of it in his stride. Starting his career as the side’s utility man, his form has been so good, that David Furner has had no choice but to play him in the starting side in a favoured position of his. Fullback. What’s scary, is he’ll only get better.
2. Corey Oates – Another talented youngster that has been touted for future stardom at all levels of the game and he’s shown why. A versatile player and able to cover positions in the back-line and the back-row, this Broncos young gun has gone from strength to strength and has been rewarded with a starting opportunity – one that he is taken to the best of his ability – in light of injuries. Don’t be surprised if he now stays as a permanent fixture in the Broncos side.
3. Jamie Lyon – Widely regarded as the best centre currently playing the game, the experience of Lyon shows through in every facet of his game. From producing a top defensive tackle on his opposition number, the way he carries himself on the field and leads his team forward when they’re in trouble and to knowing the right option to take in both defence and attack, it’s why he’s regarded as an elite centre in the NRL – if not the best – despite some fans not being a fan of his.
4. Jarrod Croker – Only just starting to find his feet again after a bit of an injury disrupted year, Croker’s finding his mojo again. With the Raiders needing a centre to step up in the absence of Blake Ferguson, Croker has done just that, linking up well with his inside and outside men and boasting one hell of a goal-kicking accuracy rate. Although he has had his fair share of criticism in the past, Croker’s a player that will only continue to get better.
5. Michael Gordon – Going through some turbulent injury periods of his own already this season, there was a time when many were wondering just how long it was going to take Gordon to make his return. Well, it happened a couple of weeks ago and since then, the Sharks fullback has been like bat out of hell – on fire. Producing top-notch linking play with his side’s play-makers and sniffing around for opportunities from offloads – like his try scored off Wade Graham’s pass – Gordon is slowly getting back to his best.
6. Thomas Leuluai – Ask any Warriors fan and they’ll tell you that the start of Leuluai’s year was by no means great. In fact, they might have described it as bad, to the point where some wanted him dropped from the side altogether. Persistence is the key, however and it has paid off, with the Warriors half enjoying a stellar run of form over the last 6 weeks – coinciding with the Warriors recent resurgent ways.
7. James Maloney – Starting the year on fire, the Roosters half with a lot to prove burst out of the blocks but regressed a bit around the Origin period, for whatever reason. As he starts to find his feet again and get his game back to the blistering best we know he is capable of, his weapons in attack still pose a very dangerous threat for any side and with the Roosters team performing as a whole and as a unit, Maloney will be keen to spark the side in whatever way he can.
8. James Graham – He might be an Englishman but he’s a damn good one, as the Bulldogs prop continues to show why he is an elite prop not only in the NRL but in the entire rugby league world. Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, the consistently solid numbers he puts up is astounding. When you factor in that he missed the first several rounds due to his biting charge in 2012, his statistics already this year having missed those kathie lee gifford pokies games is remarkable.
9. Todd Carney – Not selected for Origin this season, the snub by selectors may have actually done Carney more good than harm, as he has taken it upon himself to lead the Sharks forward in attack. Possessing a terrific all-round game and in the NRL’s elite halves when he’s in solid form like he currently is, he’s the lynchpin in the Sharks attack. Usually when he’s performing and on song, it means the Sharks are also on song. A key part of their charge towards the finals.
10. Matt Scott – Some would say that he perhaps hasn’t had his best year compared to that of others, but there’s no denying that Matt Scott, regardless of how he’s travelling, is an elite prop in today’s game. With representative honours galore to his name and more still to come throughout his career, his work-rate and commitment to his footy never go unnoticed by club fans, Origin fans or international fans.
11. Justin Horo – A change of teams and scenery can either be a detriment or a blessing in disguise for a player and for Horo, it has proved to be a successful change for him. Down in the dumps during his time at the Eels and looking for a way out to further his career, it was the Sea Eagles who came knocking. Since that move, Horo has proved invaluable to their side on the fringes and has given them additional fire power in the forwards.
12. Sonny Bill Williams – Many had doubts as to just how effective SBW would be upon his return to league but it’d be safe to say that those with doubts would now no longer have them. Producing some of the best footy you will see from a back-rower, SBW’s knack for being involved in tries – whether it’s scoring them or assisting them – puts him in the elite category of back-rowers.
13. Sam Burgess – Englishman often have a big impact in the game one way or another and this Burgess brother is firing on all cylinders at the moment, with no signs of slowing down. After another bullocking performance in Souths recent win, it’s a given that Sam is one of the elite back-rowers in the world of rugby league, if not the best at this point in time. Factor in the work he does alongside his brothers, and you’ll see just how damaging he is.
14. Trent Merrin – Making a transition to lock in 2013 to accommodate a few other forwards, the move has worked wonders for the St George forward. With a lot of locks these days essentially playing as an extra front-rower in attack, Merrin’s game hasn’t been damaged, with the forward possessing a solid hitting-style, an effective running style and the ability to produce top quality offloads at will.
15. Simon Mannering – Whilst some would say that his form this year as been somewhat inconsistent, the last four to six weeks that certainly hasn’t been the case, as the Warriors captain continues to prove his worth for the club as they enjoy a bit of a successful streak. Leading from the front and getting more involved than we’re perhaps used to seeing, it’s the sort of form that has seen he – along with other Warriors players – take their games to a new level.
16. Sam Moa – With all the focus on the likes of SBW, Maloney and Jennings at the Roosters, some may have forgotten that the club acquired Sam Moa from Hull in the Super League, and what a buy he’s been. He started the year off tremendously, before an injury struck and he was forced to sit on the sidelines. Since his return, though, it’s almost as if he’s gotten even better than he was at the start of the year.
17. Luke Keary – Regarded as one of the best young talents coming through the ranks at the Rabbitohs, many believe it’s just a matter of time before he becomes a permanent fixture in the Bunnies starting side which would then see Sutton move to lock. A quick, deceptive and creative half, Keary showed his array of skills this week as he carved up the opposition defence with his nimble feet, great awareness and overall team play.
Player of the Week: Sam Burgess