A month into the season and boy have there been some entertaining games and rivalries so far. There have been some surprise packets and upset wins and there have been teams struggling so far that were expected to perform well. Just who will get the kudos this week for stellar performances? You’re about to find out.
Here’s Ricky’s Team of the Week for Rd 4:
1. Jarryd Hayne (C) – Regarded as the best player in the Eels roster, Hayne does have days where he is not as involved as he probably should be. The games where he does get involved and make an impact, though, are the ones the Eels usually win and his performance from the back in defence and chiming into the attack when in a good position were two facets that proved vital for the Eels in their win. Their hopes often rest on how he performs.
2. Glen Fisiiahi – Rarely do you see four tries scored in a game in this day and age of rugby league but the man known as the Fish has done it, and he did it convincingly. Not the biggest winger, Fisiiahi makes up for that with pure speed, acceleration and determination. With a few niggling injuries to other players and some good form, Fisiiahi has retained his spot and is a valuable asset on the wing for the Warriors.
3. Gerard Beale – Last year was a year to forget for Beale after he was injured but fast forward to the 2014 season and it is a different story, with the Dragons centre nearing some of the best form of his career. With stellar displays, a good skill overall skill set and combining well with his outside man, Beale has come a long way in his career and has no issues in playing at the centre position for the Dragons.
4. Joey Leilua – It is amazing what a new club and the right coach can do for a previously troubled player in turning their game around and their life around. For Joey Leilua, it was guidance that he lacked and since his move to the Knights a couple of seasons ago, the hulking centre has improved in every sense and was simply unstoppable in the win over the Sharks. His statistics in that game speak for themselves and with the form he is in, he will soon be one of the form centres of the competition.
5. Tim Lafai – The Mr Fix-It man of the Bulldogs back-line – filling in whenever there is some sort of injury – it makes you wonder why he is not a mainstay of the side, given he always produces and plays well in the opportunities he gets. Normally a centre but equally adept on the wing as a player, Lafai’s vision, awareness and ability to sniff out an opportunity for his outside man are what make him a very good player.
6. Kieran Foran – Without setting the world alight so far this season, Foran has gone about his business in the usual manner that he does. Just one half of what is one of the best halves combinations in the NRL, Foran is perhaps the one that gets fewer kudos but he does not let that bother him. Rather, he goes about his work with aplomb and knows what his role within the team is.
7. Anthony Milford – There isn’t much to say about Anthony Milford that has not already been said. The versatile live-wire utility back is in some electric form for the Raiders – a sign that will have Broncos fans impressed – as he produces clinical displays time and time again. He is a crucial piece for the Raiders in 2014 and if they are to have any chance to producing upsets and progressing to the finals this season, their hopes no doubt lie on his dynamic ability in attack.
8. James Graham – Coming from England, many may not have known what to expect from Graham at the NRL level. Having recently signed a new contract to remain with the Dogs and in Australia, Graham’s form since his time in the NRL has always increased and gotten better and this year is no exception. His play as a prop is a sight that many love to see and for a big man, his ball-playing skills are among the elite for a prop. One of the form props in the NRL right now.
9. Nathan Peats – When you talk about buys of the season, Nathan Peats is going to come very close to winning that mantle. The Eels have long cried out for a hooker of his ability and he has not disappointed with a combination of nifty running, astute awareness when running the ball and a measured, controlled approach to the position that has resulted in swift passes and opportunities. Peats has been a revelation for the Eels and they certainly needed one.
10. Matt Scott – You know what you are going to get with Matt Scott every week, no questions asked. A no-nonsense, hard-hitting prop, the QLD representative continues to show why he is an elite prop and very few question that. His leadership as a forward on the field and off the field in helping the younger, emerging players, are what make him an elite player and a great person.
11. Sam Thaiday – Criticised coming into the season for not leading as a senior player and not performing to the standards that fans expect, Thaiday has since emerged as a genuine attacking threat for the Broncos since moving back to the second-row. Equally adept at prop, the veteran has been an important piece in the Broncos very good start to the season and will remain an important piece moving forward in season 2014.
12. Robbie Rochow – Not a household name by any means, you could just about say that Robbie Rochow is one of the best emerging back-rowers in the game. His form often goes unnoticed by the media and other mediums but to those that watch him play and to those that know him, they would know that his work-rate and tireless effort on the field a testament to his own personal desire and determination.
13. Greg Bird – Still an elite player in the back-row/lock positions after some years in the NRL, Bird is a player that will compete and perform no matter the scoreline is team is faced with. Able to change a game with just one play – especially on the fringes – the veteran is not only one of the crucial players for the Titans side but also for the NSW side, who will need some experience in 2014.
14. Konrad Hurrell – He may not have started the season given some concerns about his overall game but since Hurrell has come back into the NRL in 2014, no-one has been able to stop him. Now used as forward off the bench, Hurrell has steamrolled defenders and made a mockery of them for fun, before linking up with his team-mates to create try-scoring opportunities and tries. You could ask, has Hurrell found his ultimate position as an interchange forward?
15. Glen Buttriss – With a lot of focus on veteran half Terry Campese and Jack Wighton’s move to five-eighth this season, Buttriss has managed to escape the spotlight so far. Although he has been criticised by Raiders fans in the past, 2014 is a different story and whether that is down to the pressure that Josh McCrone brings to the hooker position, we may not know. Either way, Buttriss is enjoying a healthy run of form.
16. Brenton Lawrence – Opportunity means everything in the NRL and since he made the move to the Sea Eagles a couple of years ago, Lawrence has made the most of it. Offering huge impact with a power-running style and a desire to work as hard as he can in games, Lawrence is a big reason behind the Manly’s ability to dominate games and make metres in the middle of the ruck. His performances remain vital for the club as the season wears on.
17. Tyrone Roberts – Losing your halves partner to a long-term injury can often affect a player’s game but for young half Tyrone Roberts, it seems to have galvanised him. Producing some of the best play we have seen from him since he entered the NRL, the young half is firing on all cylinders at the moment and is leading from the front as a player and as a play-make when his side need it most. He is a talented and exciting young player.
Player of the Week: Glen Fisiiahi.