Another round is complete and yet again, there were some brilliant displays by some of the game’s elite. Narrow wins, surprising games and down-to-the-wire finishes, Rd 4 had it all.
So, without further adieu, here is Ricky’s Rd 4 Team of the Week:
1. Matt Moylan – One of the most promising young players in the game, Moylan is slowly asserting his authority on the game. As one of the Panthers most important players, his efforts from fullback have not gone unnoticed, with a potential Origin berth on the horizon. His form both this year and last has been top-notch and as long as he remains on the field, the Panthers will have every chance to winning as many games as possible.
2. Akuila Uate – The Fijian flyer is back! Uate himself will tell you that the last couple of years were tough and that he was down on form. In 2015, though, he has improved dramatically, to the point where he is, at this point, one of the form wingers in the NRL. He has the venom back in his runs, he has the barnstorming ability back and most importantly, he is enjoying his footy once again. Ominous signs for the rest of the league.
3. Blake Ferguson – The long-term injury he sustained is a blow for Ferguson, who was just starting to re-discover his form in the NRL. Despite that, since his return, he has steadily gotten better and has worked hard to fit into the game once more. A talented player, Ferguson managed to get on the scoresheet a few times and set up numerous chances for his team-mates. The Roosters will miss his dynamism on the edges.
4. Justin Hodges – When in form, there is perhaps no better or more consistent centre than Justin Hodges. Although his form can be up and down, this year, he has been a catalyst for the Broncos, leading from the front as captain. Although injuries have slowed him down – and yet another appears to have done so – he seems to pick things up from where he left off every time he returns. His experience and skill are what the Broncos desperately need.
5. Daniel Tupou – A hulking winger, Tupou’s size and powerful fend are what make him so hard to defend against. He has also enjoyed a solid start to the season on the back of the Roosters successful start to the season thus far. The right side combination he is forming with Michael Jennings is becoming one of the most potent in the NRL so far and Roosters fans will hope that can continue in the coming rounds.
6. Johnathan Thurston – To put it simply, there is no better half in the game and you saw why last night. With the game on the line, some players would have cracked. But for JT, there is never any pressure. He slotted home a crucial conversion and then, for good measure, kicked two field goals – one that tied the game up and the other that won the game – to show that he really is, as cool as a cucumber. Is this the return of JT?
7. Chris Sandow – Sandow has had his fair share of critics in the past, many of whom have dismissed him as a threat in the NRL. But so far in 2015, Sandow has proved the doubters wrong, proving to be an essential part of the Eels cog, putting in quality, game-winning displays. The little maestro is everywhere and it is the free reign he has to play his natural ad-lib style of game, that is a big reason behind his own individual success and that of the Eels this year.
8. Sam Kasiano – By his own admission, he had a relatively poor 2014 season but after working hard in the off-season and getting himself in shape, Kasiano has looked better and played better. A huge forward, he runs at speed and is always causing problems for the defensive line. With safe hands for a big man, he is the perfect foil for the smaller, nippier players to run off, to try and create attacking opportunities.
9. Adam Clydsdale – With the Knights currently firing, Clydsdale might be one player that has flown under the radar somewhat during their so far undefeated season. But that should not fool you, as his efforts in both attack and defence have played their part, with the young hooker proving that he can cut the mustard in the NRL. His dummy half work often sets the tone for the Knights moving forward.
10. Jesse Bromwich – When you think of the best props in the NRL, Bromwich is up there and rightly so. Playing an astonishing 76 minutes in last night’s game as a prop, the man nicknamed JBrom is an integral part of not only the Storm’s forward pack but of the game in general. When he sets the tone with his runs and carries, the rest of the team follows suite and it makes life easier on the halves in attack when creating opportunities.
11. David Gower – Making the most of an opportunity when it is given to you is not one that all players take but they are not one David Gower. In the absence of Tepai Moeroa, Gower was given an opportunity to start and performed brilliantly. Able to cover both the back-row and prop, Gower has been a revelation for the Eels this year and last, becoming the fan favourite of many. His well-timed offloads create the crucial second-phase play the club needs.
12. Jason Taumalolo – When he is on, you cannot stop him. Although he can be inconsistent, there is no denying that Taumalolo is one of the most destructive forwards in the game. An absolute powerhouse of a player, the Cowboys back-rower often proves too hot to handle as he steamrolls his way into the defensive line on a regular basis. Last night was a taste of what he can do, he just has to go on with it and remain consistent.
13. Nate Myles (C) – The captaincy has helped Nate Myles both on and off the field as a player and a person, and it shows in his current form. A crafty piece of play to set up one of his side’s tries for their maiden win was the highlight, but his work-rate and carries also set the tone. With his partner undergoing a battle of her own, Myles has dug deep to find it within himself to play with her in mind, as he leads from the front for the Titans side.
14. Jarrod Wallace – Perhaps somewhat of a surprise packet on a list such as this one, it is a deserved one in every sense. Used predominantly as a bench forward, Wallace is finally getting the decent minutes and opportunities he has desired and is making the most of them. Running hard, flat lines, Wallace is showing that he can step up when required. A rare try for him was the highlight, as he continues to get better.
15. James Roberts – All incidents aside, if James Roberts stays out of trouble, he shows why he is one of the most promising centres in the NRL with consistently solid games. Regarded as one of the fastest players in the league, Roberts has all the tools to be a fine, young player, and potentially an elite player in years to come. Although the Titans have just the one win to their name so far in 2015, Rberts form has been tremendous and that will no doubt continue.
16. James Tedesco – Touch wood, young James Tedesco is slowly finding his feet after an unfortunate run with injuries in years past. Having not lost any of his blistering speed, the most surprising and pleasing aspect about Tedesco’s game is the partnership he is continually building with young half Luke Brooks. The two are mates both on and off the field and it is evident in spades, as the two often read each other’s minds, especially in attack. It could be the start of something very special.
17. Thomas Burgess – Often overshadowed by twin brother George, it was Thomas who got the better of his sibling this week, putting in a solid attacking display despite the Souths loss. With everyone expecting George to be the brother that steps up in the absence of brother Sam, it has been young Tom who has taken it upon himself to work hard and play hard. His numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he is playing from the bench.
Player of the Week: Jason Taumalolo