Another year and another weekly edition of Ricky’s Team of the Week. Yep, it’s back! How fast has the year gone? Feels like not that long ago, we were counting down the days for the season to return. Now, it’s back!
Using a certain criteria that is based on a points system Ricky himself allocates to the top 3 players of each game, a respective team of 17 players will be form the team of the week each week. Will you agree with the selected players or did you have someone else in mind?
Without further adieu, here’s the team of the week for Rd 1:
1. Greg Inglis – If you needed any reason as to why Greg Inglis is an elite fullback in the NRL and in the world, you saw it in the Bunnies dominating win over the Roosters. Busting tackles and making breaks for fun, Inglis was on a mission and no matter what the Roosters threw at him, he could not be stopped. In such ominous form early on, you would expect the behemoth of a fullback to continue his good form.
2. Josh Mansour – Perhaps a surprise candidate to make the team of the week but based on his performance, it is thoroughly deserved for the Panthers winger. He may not get the kudos of some of the more high-profile wingers but he let his game on the field do the talking, as he produced a master-class in the second half especially and made breaks that broke the back of the Newcastle Knights. One of his tries was all about sheer power, as he burst through and beat about five defenders to score.
3. Dale Copley – Injuries can be cruel and for Copley, he has seen his fair share of them. Promisingly, the utility back has started his 2014 season well as he showed his ability, technique and enthusiasm to finish up as one of the best on ground for the Broncos on Friday night. Running solid lines and causing the Bulldogs defence some issues, for his sake, hopefully Copley can have an injury free season and a season that sees him excel on the footy field each week.
4. Chris McQueen – Usually accustomed to the back-row in the modern era, centre is not a position that is foreign to the QLD Origin rep. Earning his chance last year and backing it up early on, it was a stellar display on the fringes by the talented second-rower, who was linking up well, supporting the play and creating all sorts of problems for the Roosters defence. Although he is not the most high-profile back-rower, it is his work ethic and desire to succeed as a player that see him excel.
5. Semi Radradra – Although there are some facets of the game that the hulking Fijian has to fine-tune and learn, in an attacking sense, he is purely unstoppable as the Warriors defenders found out. Running and charging at the line at will, the sheer power and strength of Radradra was a thing of beauty and a big reason behind the Eels stellar finishing when they had their chances. Consistency is the key for Semi and if he can produce games like the one against the Warriors regularly, he will be a valuable asset for the year ahead.
6. Gareth Widdop – It’s always hard changing teams and making a name for yourself somewhere else when you’ve had world-class players around you, but Widdop showed that he is more than capable of standing on his own two feet, as he produced a dazzling display of passing and led the Dragons to a Rd 1 win. Crisp passing, solid kicking and an overall game that was the key to the Dragons win, performances like that viagra online cheap have the Dragons optimistic not only about their chances as a whole but about Widdop’s ability in general.
7. Johnathan Thurston – Not much has to be said about Thurston. Put simply – and his overall game at all levels, consistent stats and stellar start to the season show this – he is hands down, the best half in the game across the board. Dictating a game and grabbing it by the scruff of the neck is something he relishes and when his side is against the ropes, he knows what it takes to win. As the Raiders found out, you can be on top, only to have Thurston take the game away from you in the blink of an eye.
8. Corey Parker – Making a surprising move to prop – one that fans and Supercoach players were not expecting – it was a move that did eventually pay off, as Parker led from the front and produced the sort of stats and form we have come to expect from him over the years. Offloading for fun and at will, he is perhaps the best exponent of it in the side and he has certainly solidified his stance as an elite forward in the NRL. Not only that, but he is a prodigal son and a fan favourite of the club and the NRL.
9. Cam Smith – When you think of a player that can change a game and take it away from you, Cam Smith is that man. We have all seen it first hand and with his side well and truly against it – seemingly down and out – it was he who showed class, poise, finesse and experience, as he guided his younger cohorts and his side into battle. The result? They came out the other side and won after a stellar comeback. All on the back of Smith’s sheer class and execution. Easily the game’s best hooker.
10. Tyson Frizell – Another interesting move – this time at the Dragons – saw Tyson Frizell move to prop and my goodness, it worked! A ripper display from a player with untapped potential and the world at his feet in regards to the NRL. Representing Wales early on his career, the move to prop will add to his versatility and repertoire as the talented forward set the bar high for his more experienced counterparts. You could go as far as to say that it was the best game of his NRL career so far.
11. Greg Bird – Hard-nosed, bruising and experienced. Bird is the sort of player that puts in every game and you know that without fail, he will put his body on the line during all and any NRL games or die trying. A lynchpin of the Titans forward pack, his versatility and experience is crucial and he helps to carry the side. He can swing the momentum with some stellar runs and with a fresh approach to 2014, it may well be his year to truly shine as an elite back-rower.
12. Josh Papalii – Cementing his spot as one of the Raiders’ most consistent players, Papalii’s overall game has gone from strength to strength. Destructive on the edges and a go-to man for the club when they need a burst of energy or a big hit-up, Papalii puts his hand up and does the hard yards. Some fans may not like him after the whole contract debacle but what cannot be denied, is that the kid has talent and that is evidenced by his Origin appearances. Ones he deserved.
13. Jason Taumalolo – Beast, beast and a bigger beast. When you talk about behemoths and talented kids in the same sentence, one name that will appear – or at least should appear – is that of Jason Taumalolo’s. Blessed with the natural ability to play rugby league, Taumalolo made the perfect start to his career and made the most of the chance to play the whole game. Breaking tackles, wreaking havoc and making breaks, there was just no stopping him. What’s scarier, is that he can probably get even better!
14. Nathan Peats – Making your debut for a new team can be a touch daunting but for some players, they thrive in it and are keen to make a point. One such player was Peats, who is the answer at hooker that Eels fans have been crying out for. Some stellar runs, some crucial tackles and putting his body on the line where it matters, were just some facets of his game that Eels fans smiling. With the improvement now taking place, Peats will become a crucial player for the Eels moving forward.
15. Albert Kelly – One of the most exciting and talented young halves currently playing in the NRL, Kelly is a live-wire when it comes to ability and he puts it all on the line and works his backside off to ensure the Titans get the win. His elusiveness is a very good asset, as he is able to weave his way in and out of opposition defences and couple that with his acceleration off the mark and you have a player with speed to burn and nifty footwork to boot. He and fellow halves partner Aidan Sezer are crucial for the Titans in 2014.
16. Manu Ma’u – Players often go through the wringer but none more so than Ma’u. Back in 2007, he was in jail for three years. Through sheer hard work, determination, a will to succeed and a dream to play in the NRL, Ma’u made it. His debut was one of the best you will ever see from a back-rower. Sheer power in his running on the fringes was too much for the Warriors and it showed, as he carved up their defence at will and for fun. He made 2 line-breaks to boot and was far and away the Eels best on ground.
17. Jordan McLean – He may not be a player that a lot of people have heard of but he has ability in bucketloads and it shows, as his power and determination from the bench sees him make the team of the week. A big bopper of a kid, he runs hard, works hard and hits hard, and knows what his role is. He is a talented forward to watch for the future and if things continue as they are, he may well remain a mainstay of the Storm side for years to come, such is his impact on the field.
Player of the Week: Manu Ma’u.