Another round over and that means another team of the week. There were upsets, there were routs and there was action galore but just who stood out. We will be casting our eye over the round and picking the 17 players that we felt had the biggest impact.
Using a 3, 2, 1 points system based on our evaluations of the game, here is the team of the week for Rd 2:
1. Anthony Milford – When you talk about players with x-factor, this young man has plenty of it and then some. Making line-breaks look effortless and simply toying with opposition defences is something he seems to enjoy and his talents are on show for the entire RL world to see. Versatile across the back-line, it does not seem to matter where he plays or how the Raiders are performing, Milford is going to give it his all to the end and more often than not, he will end up as the Raiders best player.
2. Brett Morris – Dragons fans will tell you that he is the better Morris brother and with his side starting well, the rep winger came out all guns blazing in Rd 2 and was a crucial factor in the Dragons win. Blessed with speed and lots of it, Morris’ ability has been on show for some years and he often scores tries for fun using his speed, acceleration and a great game awareness. With form not an issue at the moment, if it continues, he could find himself in a NSW jersey before too long.
3. Steve Matai – You either love him or you hate him but there is no doubting that Steve Matai’s ability in the centres is up there with the elite. He can be reckless at times and it can cost his team a game or give away a try, but he steps up when it is required and he makes an impact in just about every game. A hard-nosed, aggressive centre – one of the few of his kind in the NRL – Matai forms a crucial part of the Manly side if they are to win the premiership this season.
4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall – He can often be dubbed as inconsistent but the talent is there for all to see, as Kenny-Dowall ran riot in a rout of the Eels side. Seemingly everywhere on the field and setting up tries for fun – not something you usually see from a centre – it was the sort of form that Roosters fans want to see from the Kiwi centre and the sort of form that may well see him picked for the Kiwi side down the track.
5. Dale Copley – Everyone always knew that he had the ability and untapped potential but injury always seemed to strike at inopportune times, thus preventing Copley from showcasing it. In 2014, it has been worth the wait. Finally getting some luck with injuries, Copley is making the most of every chance he gets and is taking his game to the next level and offering impact, speed and flair to the centre position. He was in the side last week – rightfully so – and is again this week, given the stellar consistency he has so far shown.
6. Trent Hodkinson – Hodkinson has been around the league for some time but does still have his critics – as most players often do. Last night was a sign that he may well be prepared to take the next step, as he just about single-handedly set up a Dogs victory with a gritty try and some majestic passes for his team-mates. A half that is all about natural ability, Hodkinson shapes as a big factor in the Dogs chances and with more performances like last night, who knows how good he can get.
7. Cooper Cronk – There is not much to say about Cooper Cronk that has not already been said by others over the years. Easily one of the best halves in the NRL and in the elite category, Cronk often has the ability to find a way to help the Storm win games and more often than not, it happens. He can change a game and take it away from you, or he can simply toy with you and keep you guessing combining fantastic running, passing and kicking games on a regular basis. Not to mention that he does kick 40/20’s for fun.
8. Martin Taupau – He was always a talented player but it seems like the move to the Wests Tigers has rejuvenated Taupau, as he runs with vigour, tackles with vigour and is keen to make an impact on every play he can in both attack and defence. A big hulking prop, his efforts have been crucial for the Tigers and none more so than last week, as they romped home to their first win of the season. Could be a smokey for improver of the year.
9. Robbie Farah (C) – Much like Cronk, there is not much more that can be said about Farah that has not already been said. One of the elite hookers and perhaps just about Cam Smith in terms of elite status, Farah also has an ability to turn a game on its head. His running game from dummy half is something to watch and he was carving up the opposition defence in Rd 2 for fun. He looms as the key factor for the Tigers if they are to do something this year and go places.
10. James Tamou – Attitude wise, Tamou can be a complicated player at time and thus he can become prone to form slides but when he is on song and firing on all cylinders, he is a barnstorming prop that is hard to stop. Trying to re-capture the form that has seen him in the NSW and Australian sides in the past, it his partnership with fellow Cowboys prop Matt Scott that gets him the plaudits as the two often acted like a 1-2 punch against teams. The hard-working and determined nature of Scott, followed by the bruising, destructive nature of Tamou.
11. Jamie Buhrer – One could say that Buhrer is perhaps the unsung hero of the Manly side. With other back-rowers like Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough often receiving all the plaudits, the efforts of Buhrer can often slip under the radar but when given the chance, he too has shown that he is more than capable of excelling and leading from the front. With a ripper game in Manly’s win this weekend, it his bench impact that often lifts the Manly side and gives them another solid option in attack.
12. Mitch Aubusson – Many believe that Aubusson is the most under-rated player in the game – I must admit, I am in that category – as the utility continues to go about his work and efforts with aplomb and with determination and a will to succeed. Getting an increase in minutes due to the suspension of SBW, Aubusson made the most of it, as he had no issues in carving up a sloppy Eels defence – performances that Roosters fans have often come to expect of him – even if he doesn’t always get the kudos for it.
13. Shaun Fensom – Defence, defence and defence. That is one of the biggest mantras for Fensom, with the tireless workhorse continuing to rack up huge defensive numbers every week. Making a remarkable 52 tackles for the Raiders this week, his efforts are what help to shore up the Raiders ruck defence. Do not be mistaken, though, Fensom is just as potent in attack and he has shown that both this year and in years’ past. If circumstances over the past few years were different, Fensom would have already played Origin for NSW.
14. James Segeyaro – There are impact players on the bench and then there is pure dynamism from the bench. Segeyaro falls into that dynamic area as just about every game, somehow, he makes a crucial impact for his Panthers side and seemingly with ease. One of the nippiest hookers in the game, his acceleration and awareness out of dummy half is often what gives opposition teams a hell of a lot of grief and his unique style of play is what makes him an effective player and a crucial one for the Panthers.
15. David Klemmer – Klemmer burst onto the scene, performed well and was thus offered a new deal at the Bulldogs but since that time, he disappeared somewhat – injury striking him and keeping him out for a long while – but the talented prop is back and is making his presence felt. Seen as the future of the Dogs forward pack, Klemmer’s sheer aggression and power-running is seen in every carry of his and his size is often difficult for opposition defences to deal with. A potential future Origin player.
16. Simon Mannering – One of the most loved players at Warriors HQ and adored by fans, the experience he brings to the Warriors side is crucial and despite their poor start to the season, he is one player that pours his heart and soul into the club and his own game. He is the captain for a reason as he often leads from the front in attack and defence and shows his team-mates how it is done. The Warriors need that and more from him if they are to get out of their current slump.
17. Matt Gillett – On the fringes of the Broncos attack, Gillett is a potent player and has games where he absolutely carves up for fun. The flipside is that he can go missing at times but his ability to bounce back is what holds him in such high esteem by Broncos fans and other fans and it is what has seen him rewarded with Origin jerseys for QLD. Starting the season well as a player and in his team, his efforts in the back-row and the efforts of his team-mates are behind the strong start for the Broncos.
Player of the Week: Anthony Milford