It feels like it was Rd 1 only yesterday, yet here we are at Rd 24. Just two more Team of the Week’s left, before the Team of the Year is announced after Rd 26.
Without further adieu, here’s the team of the week for Rd 24:
1. Matt Bowen – Although there’s uncertainty about his future at the present time and worries over his troublesome knees, Matt Bowen showed that he can still mix it with the best of the best, as he put on some pace, some shimmying and helped guide the Cowboys to a comfortable win, one that continues their surge towards the finals. With some big games coming up, maybe they might sway his decision somewhat.
2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – I think it’s safe to say that not only is RTS a star of the future, but that he possesses the the quickest feet and the best left or right foot step in the NRL. Countless times, defenders feel comfortable that they’re going to tackle him, yet before they know it, he’s flown past them. Oh, and he can play footy, too and has shown that he will be a star of the future.
3. Will Chambers – A talented centre who perhaps doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves at times, Chambers has shown time and time again that he is a crafty player, a smart player and a fantastic finisher. Well and truly back as a key player in the Storm system, Chambers combinations have proven vital this year for the Storm in defence and attack, particularly with Maurice Blair.
4. Greg Inglis – Inglis’ versatility across the back-line is well-known but no matter whereabouts he plays, he seems to have a knack of either scoring points, busting tackles or making breaks and at will. He’s the sort of player that has game-breaking ability and can turn a game on its head with a simple run, pass or break. Upon his return, he’s slowly starting to hit his straps again.
5. Tim Simona – He was a bit of an unknown quantity in first-grade when he was given a chance but ask any Tigers fan and they’ll tell you that Tim Simona is a crucial part of their side. With an uncanny knack of scoring tries and lots of them, he doesn’t just score them – he makes them flashy and extravagant, all whilst making them look easier than they actually are. If you ask me, he’s perhaps the best young centre/winger in the competition right now.
6. Anthony Milford – If you’ve seen Milford play, not only would you have seen his versatility across several grades, but you would have seen just how good of a player and how big of a star he’ll be. In a Raiders that has at times, been disappointing, it has been Milford who has sparked something for them and made the required impact. Time and time again, he is showing that wherever he does go, he is bound to make a tremendous impact for any side.
7. Daly Cherry-Evans – Whilst it could be argued that he has perhaps not reached the heights and stellar form of past years, the crafty work and play of Cherry-Evans should not go unnoticed. His link-up play and partnership with Foran in the halves is still thriving and with Manly in the position that they are, he has obviously been a key influence and a main reason for that, just like he will be moving forward.
8. James Graham – When you think of props, Graham is probably one of the first ones that come to mind. If he doesn’t, then he should. Graham’s ability is not only to charge the ball forward and make inroads in a side’s defence, but for a man of his size and position, his ball-playing skills are perhaps second to none. An important part of the Dogs side, it is those ball skills that can at times, assist the halves into producing points.
9. James Segeyaro – Cowboys fans were disappointed when he left but now the Panthers fans are cheering, as Electronic Cigarette Segeyaro continues to show why he was and still is a highly-rated young hooker coming through the ranks. On the back of arguably his best performance of the season, it was a master-class from him as he ran, ducked, dipped, dodged and weaved his way around the opposition defence, almost at will.
10. Ryan James – James is a player that has come a long way this year in particular, after previously finding himself in and out of the Titans side on a regular basis. Whilst hard to pinpoint what the change in his game was, it cannot be denied that since his re-entry into the Titans side a couple of months ago, he has taken his game to a new level and is laying the platform for the Titans when required.
11. Anthony Watmough – He might not be everyone’s favourite player but he doesn’t have to be, especially when he’s one of the elite back-rowers in the competition. With a style of play that works and one that gets results, Watmough is an integral part of the Manly side, often acting as an additional ball-player when required and putting his best foot forward in an attempt to get the best possible result for his side.
12. Matt Gillett – What could be described as somewhat of an inconsistent season for Gillett – at least statistically – the last few weeks, he has knuckled down and worked tirelessly for the Broncos, producing and creating havoc for opposition defenders as well showing off a new side to his game – handy offloads. With room to develop further as a player, Gillett is on his way to becoming a very, very good back-rower in the NRL.
13. Paul Gallen – On his day, Gallen is probably the best lock forward in the game and you only have to watch last night’s game to see why this is the case. Whilst Gallen’s temper can at times flare up and whilst he might be ill-disciplined when it comes to on-field penalties, his leadership, determination and drive/will to win are what makes him the glue in the Sharks side. His form will be imperative for the Sharks moving forward.
14. Billy Slater – Another player that when he is on song, his form is electric. Whilst he might be down somewhat on consistency from previous years, Billy Slater is still regarded as the game’s best fullback for his game-breaking ability from the back and his stellar link-up play with the Storm’s other big 2. His awareness of the game and ability to read the play is what makes him an elite player.
15. James Tamou – Not a cleanskin by any means, Tamou has had his fair share of dips this year and drops – namely from the NSW Origin side – but with the Cowboys pushing for a finals berth, he has stepped up his game and is nearing the form we saw from him last year, form that got him a jumper for the Australian side. Working in tandem with Matt Scott, he’ll want to continue this sort of form for the Cowboys and for another potential Kangaroos berth.
16. Jesse Bromwich – Whilst you might not see his name mentioned in a lot of circles when it comes to elite props, the consistent form of Bromwich cannot be overlooked for much longer. With the focus often on the Storm’s big 3, Bromwich is the prop who lays the platform for them to weave their magic and is often able to break a tackle or two, break the line or offload. With this form, he’s a shoe-in for a NZ World Cup spot.
17. Chris Heighington – Probably not playing as many minutes as he’d like at times since his move to the Sharks, the veteran in Heighington is quite simply, a toiler. Not a flashy player, he makes up for it in determination, dedication, drive, willpower and a desire to perform at the highest level. Played perhaps one of his best games of the season last year and was rewarded with a try.
Player of the Week: Matt Gillett.