Category Archives: NRL Editorials

Editorials on the big issues in NRL Rugby League

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 6: Brenton Bowen

Our interview series with former players continues with pt 6; with former North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans utility back, Brenton Bowen.

With a synonymous surname in rugby league, a love of the game and the skill to boot, Bowen opened up on life prior to first-grade, his career and what the game means to him.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy his open, honest answers.

Q1: Your surname is synonymous in rugby league; what drew you into rugby league?

A: My earliest memory of Rugby League is when I was a kid; I remember my dad and uncles playing for the Mossman Sharks in the Cairns Local Rugby League Competition. I’d sometimes hop on the footy bus with my dad and follow him down to Cairns from Hope Vale to watch him play. When I got a bit older, I loved watching Allan Langer play for the Broncos. I was a big Broncos fan growing up because they had a lot of QLD Origin players.

Q2: With Matthew Bowen being your cousin, what were your rugby league memories growing up with him?

A: We were both very competitive. There was always a competitive rivalry between us from our time growing up at Hope Vale. Every time we played backyard footy or a game of touch footy, we would always be on opposing teams. We always wanted to outdo each other but at the same time had so much respect for each other.

Q3: Born in Cairns, you went on to play for Cairns Brothers at the junior level and then the North Queensland Cowboys; what were those experiences like and what did it mean to you to play first-grade?

A: Although I was born in Cairns, I grew up in Hope Vale near Cooktown. I did my High Schooling years at St. Teresa’s College Abergowrie (near Ingham). It wasn’t until I was 16 that I played for Cairns Brothers and we went on the win the Grand Final that year. I’d make the 3-hour trip north to play footy on the weekends.

I have some of my fondest memories playing footy alongside my school mates. None more special than winning the Confraternity Carnival in 1999 with my St. Teresa’s College schoolmates. Matty Bowen and Palmer Wapau were on the same side also. Palmer went on to play for the Brisbane Broncos.

When the Cowboys entered the NRL competition in 1995, I instantly changed teams from the Broncos to the Cowboys, haha! We had an NRL team to support in our very own backyard. To actually have the opportunity to not only play for them but to actually debut with them was a dream come true. One goal of mine was definitely ticked off.

Q4: After some success at the Cowboys, you moved to the Titans for a sole season in 2008; what prompted that move?

A: At the time, the Titans were offering me a 2-year contract whereas the Cowboys were only offering me a 12-month contract. So I thought I needed something with more stability and decided to sign with the Titans. It was a very tough decision to make to move to the Gold Coast as 2007 was a very good year for me at the Cowboys as I was playing regular first grade. I enjoyed my time at the Titans over the two years that I was there. Although I didn’t play many games down there I got to play/train along side the likes of Scotty Prince, Preston Campbell, Matt Rogers, Chris Walker, Brad Meyers, Luke Bailey etc. I only played a hand full of games in 2008 and spend the 2009 season with The Tweed Seagulls.

It was a very tough decision to make to move to the Gold Coast as 2007 was a very good year for me at the Cowboys as I was playing regular first grade. I enjoyed my time at the Titans over the two years that I was there. Although I didn’t play many games down there I got to play/train along side the likes of Scotty Prince, Preston Campbell, Matt Rogers, Chris Walker, Brad Meyers, Luke Bailey etc. I only played a hand full of games in 2008 and spend the 2009 season with The Tweed Seagulls.

Although I didn’t play many games down there, I got to play/train alongside the likes of Scotty Prince, Preston Campbell, Matt Rogers, Chris Walker, Brad Meyers, Luke Bailey etc. I only played a handful of games in 2008 and spend the 2009 season with The Tweed Seagulls.

Q5: You stayed in rugby league after that and played several seasons with the Northern Pride; did you feel as if that was a demotion or was it refreshing to continue playing at the grassroots level?

A: Yes, once my time with the Titans came to an end at the end of 2009, I made my way back to Far North Queensland to play for the Northern Pride. I felt that it was refreshing to be able to go back to grassroots level. Although, my 2-3 years there was marred by injury and later on doctors found a benign tumour on my Pituitary gland (just under the Brain).

Q6: Post-footy, do you still have an involvement within the game whether it be in a professional capacity or as a fan?

A: These days, I’m just a passionate fan of the game. I’d love to get back involved in the game as I love it and love what it gave me but my work commitments and family commitments take priority in my life now.

Q7: What is your greatest memory from your rugby league career?

A: My greatest memory from my Rugby League career would have to be my debut game; Round 3 2003 vs Manly. I came off the bench that day – Ty Williams got injured – and coach Graham Murray gave me the nod to take the field in place of Ty.

I was up against John Hopoate. After the game, he shook my hand and wished me all the best in my NRL career I thought that was pretty special. Other memories and highlights were obviously getting to play First Grade alongside my cousin Matty Bowen.

Q8: As a successful player, if you could give one piece of advice to any budding player that wants to play rugby league, what would it be?

A: The advice I would to anyone who wants to play at that level is to never give up on your dream. Billy Slater is a perfect example. I am the same age as Billy, he didn’t make many if not any of rep teams through the junior grades he’d always miss out but to his credit, he didn’t give up. Now he’s one of the best players in the world.

One that I use for budding rugby league players from the bush/communities that get homesick is that “home isn’t going anywhere,” it’s always going to be there. There are a lot of talented footy players from the bush/communities that would make it in the NRL but are afraid to move away from home. 

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 5: Matt ‘Sheep’ Fuller

Matt Fuller

Our next part of the interview series is here and we spoke to Matt ‘Sheep’ Fuller who played for the Canterbury Bulldogs, the St George Dragons, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Western Reds, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and the Western Suburbs Magpies. He spoke to us about his career, a surprise misconception during his Western Reds days and his successful fitness business among other things.

  1. You made your debut at the Canterbury Bulldogs at 18 in 1989; what were your nerves like heading into the contest and were you expecting to get the call-up?

All I ever wanted to do as a kid was to play first-grade rugby league. Making my first-grade debut was a proud moment for myself and my family. I played all three grades on the one day against the Roosters that afternoon. I made my first-grade debut in the centres, which was like a foreign language to me having played all my schoolboy rugby league at 6, 7 and 9. I remember only too well walking out of Belmore Sports Ground pretty tired and exhausted only to find a parking ticket on my car!

2. In 1995 you joined the Western Reds and later became captain; what did honour mean to you?

I loved playing at the Western Reds, it really felt like being at home with a great bunch of blokes. Peter Mulholland was my St Gregory’s College Campbelltown coach and the first-grade coach at the Western Reds. He had and continues to have a massive influence on my life as a mentor.

To this day, I don’t know how it was ever picked up that I became captain of the Western Reds as I was not. I felt like a leader on the field but never had the C against my name, but the story keeps evolving. I was very talkative on the field and was known for my sledging of which I enjoyed getting inside the opponents heads.

3. You moved to Wakefield for the second time in 1997 and won the First Division Final in 1998; what memories do you have of that success and of your time in Wakefield/England?

Wakefield Trinity in the north of England was a very special and rewarding time for me, having left Souths at the end of 1993 to play with “Wakey” in 1993/94 before joining the Reds in 1995. I was part of a team that beat Wigan at their home ground for the first time in 17 years and that year we fought off relegation (94). This was massive for the club. My second stint was after the Western Reds had folded was in 1997/98. At first, I was angry that the Western Reds had folded after having 3 great seasons, but returning to the UK and finding Wakefield Trinity in the first division with a mountain to climb to get back into the super league was a massive challenge.

Overall, I wouldn’t say we had a skilful team but we had a close group of lads and a great coach who worked very hard for each other. This time I held the C against my name and led the team to a grand final victory against Featherstone Rovers. Walking up the stairs to lift the premiership trophy felt very surreal. It meant a lot to the club and to myself that they got promoted back into the super league and remain there to this day. It was a very proud moment, hence, the naming of our second child, a baby girl, Trinity.

4. 1999 was your last year as a rugby league player with Western Suburbs; looking back on your career, did you imagine that you would have such a successful career when you made your debut 10 years prior?

Looking back on my career, I remember the great Terry Lamb once saying to me, “you cannot call yourself a first-grade footballer until you have played 100 first grade games of rugby league.” That desire and motivation never left me. From 1989 – 1992, I was in and out of first grade, mostly playing reserve grade. But from 1993 – 1999, I only played about 4 reserve grade games; the rest I played in first grade. Having played two full seasons in the UK, at one stage I thought the 100 club was going to be a tricky assignment.

Knocking back a great offer from Wakefield Trinity to lead the side into super league promotion in 1999 was a very difficult decision for me to make. But getting a call from the Magpies to play in the 1999 NRL season gave me an opportunity to reach my goal of 100 first grade games of which I did, under the great Tommy Raudonikis.

I feel blessed to have played the great game of rugby league. I owe the game everything. After rugby league I have put the lessons I learnt into my life and have been able to mentally adjust to a normal life, as nothing comes close to being a professional sportsman.

5. You manage the Fuller Fitness Training Centre, a successful and reputable training facility; what prompted your move into the fitness industry once you had finished your rugby league career?

I’ve been in the fitness industry for the past 17 years having set up a business from scratch, Fuller Fitness Subiaco. I’ve always loved the fitness side of the game of rugby league and stuck to what I knew. The business side, well that was a different ball game altogether at first, but after so long, I now have a pretty good handle on the running of the business and what it takes to be successful.

6. Telethon is obviously an organisation close to your heart; what prompted you to get involved with them and what did it mean to you to play such an active role?

Telethon is WA’s premier fundraising event for the community, held in October each year. All media outlets put down their bias and come together to help Channel 7 in one common goal; raising much-needed funds for distribution to different beneficiaries throughout the community to help the sick kids of WA. Telethon has given me a great focus and purpose and since retiring from rugby league this year will be my 8th, 24-hour non-stop physical challenge.

My team and I will be attempting a 24 hour non-stop spin class in Telethon’s 50 year anniversary. Over the years, my team and I have raised over $500,000 for the kids of WA. These physical challenges are my way of giving back to the community. My wife and I are truly lucky to have healthy children and over the Telethon weekend, we are reminded of this each year.

7. If you could give any advice to young, budding rugby league players and people in general, what would it be?

My advice to young rugby league players would be to look after their bodies and finances to the best of their ability, even if it means getting professional help. Learn from the lessons that you gain from playing rugby league; discipline, respect, physical and mental toughness and punctuality; and apply these to your life and you will remain mentally and physically strong through your transition to normality.

Give back as much as you can to the fans and kids of rugby league because after the pats on the back have stopped, you will need a new focus. Love your family, without them by your side retirement will be a lot harder.

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 4: Grant Rovelli

Grant Rovelli

We are back yet again with another interview with a former player; this time Grant Rovelli,  a former New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys halfback. We asked him about his career, his international rugby league adventures and his coaching in Mackay.

So sit back, have a read and enjoy the interview (and thanks again to Grant for answering our questions):

1. What is your earliest memory of rugby league growing up in Mackay?

I spent a lot of time with my Dad and younger brother at our local league team Wests Tigers; my dad was always heavily involved with the club particularly coaching and playing. We started off as ball boys and picked up a few tricks of the trade along the way. I would pass the ball to the home team and leave the ball on the ground for the opposition and we also used dry sand for the opposition and put water in the sand for the home kickers. We would then go onto the field at halftime and play against all the other kids that came along to the game. They were great times.

2. You made the shift to New Zealand in 2006 to play first-grade; tell us about the experience of getting the call-up to make your debut under then coach Ivan Cleary?

I was coached by Ivan for 2 seasons at the Roosters and we had formed a strong player-coach relationship so when he approached me to go over there, I jumped at the chance. I was actually really surprised to be picked for the first game of that year as I had played all the games from the bench in the trials and there were also some great players competing for positions.

I can’t remember exactly how the call up happened but I was absolutely stoked that I was making my debut in the NRL. In the second last training run before the game, I did rib cartilage because Ruben Wiki belted me in a defensive drill. As a result, I played the first 15 games of that year with injections to 3 ribs. My debut was a special moment for me as it was a culmination of a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get to that point. We didn’t win but I remember just having a ball.

3. You played your junior footy for the Cowboys before moving away to NSW and then NZ. You then returned to North Queensland to play for the Cowboys; what prompted that decision and did you ever think you would play first-grade for Cowboys in your career?

Being from Mackay, I came through the Cowboys Juniors system and at that time, my Dad and David Roberts used to drive a minibus full of Mackay boys up to Townsville for the junior cowboy’s camps which were a lot of fun. That was the start of friendships I still have today; Aaron Payne, Jaiman Lowe, Michael Luck, Matty & Brenton Bowen and Justin Mackay.

The opportunity arose after a frank discussion with Ivan at the end of 2008. He thought it would be in my best interests to find another club and move on. I was still contracted to the Warriors for another year with an option for another and I really enjoyed it at the club so I wasn’t that keen to move on but once it was out there, a few options arose and the Cowboys I thought was the best fit. I always wanted to play first grade for the Cowboys as it was a secret goal of mine.

When I was 15, I drew a Cowboys jersey with the number 7 on the back of my school hat as a symbol of that goal. It’s funny to think but I always remember that as something that stands out in my mind when I really actually decided that is what I wanted. At the time, I had only made regional rep teams and I wasn’t the best player in town but I had a vision and from that point on, I worked hard and made sacrifices so I could achieve that. While I didn’t play a lot of games for the Cowboys, every game was special because I felt I was representing our region every time I put the jersey on.

4. You made a couple of appearances for the Italian side in your career; tell us a bit about your Italian heritage and what playing for the Italians meant to you.

My grandfather moved over to Mackay from Italy when he was 8 years old to be with his family who were already living in Mackay trying to establish a cane farm. We grew up living on the family farm where my great-grandparents who were from Italy also lived. I remember going to their house and getting chocolate but they didn’t speak English.

My great Uncle Charlie spent a lot of time on the farm from my early memories. When I had the chance to play for Italy, it was a great thrill for me and my family; I know my Grandfather was proud. We framed one of my jerseys and it was the pride of place at his house for a long time.

My first game, Greg Florimo came off the bench and we played in the halves together that was unreal, playing against Greece in Sydney. We scored on the bell and kicked the goal to win after the siren and some fans let flares off after the game which was pretty wild.  

5.  Since your playing days, you’ve made a move into the coaching arena with the Mackay Cutters; how has that experience been and was coaching always on the agenda?

My first official coaching gig was with the Mackay Cutters U20s this year which was a rewarding experience for all involved. We had a successful season making the Grand Final against Redcliffe. Coaching is something I was always interested in. When I played, I was a student of the game and took an active role in mentoring young players so it felt natural going into the role this year.  

The biggest thrill for me was being able to pass on my experience to the local kids from Mackay. Our team was mostly made up of local kids who grew up in the area so for them to have the success we did, was huge for their confidence and the area. The improvement in them in such a short space of time was incredible and all round it was a great time.  

6. Looking back on your career as a whole, what moment sticks out to you as one of the greatest?

That’s such a hard question to answer because there isn’t one that stands out because there were so many great times and moments; even just being a fulltime professional on its own is a great thing.

I’m just extremely grateful for all the experiences I have had and the life skills I have learnt as a result of being in that environment which has given me the tools to succeed in life. I think if I had to pinpoint one it would be my debut and my first Cowboys game as both those moments were dreams of mine or goals that I had from a young age.

7. If you could give advice to any young, budding player, what would it be? 

Set small goals that will help you achieve your dream and make sure you have fun doing it.  

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 3: Sione Faumuina

Sione Faumuina

Back again with another interview, this time with Sione Faumuina, a former Canberra Raider, New Zealand Warrior, Hull FC player, North Queensland Cowboy and Castleford Tiger. 

He spoke to us about his career, his autobiography, how he wants to change the lives of young people and other areas.

Sione Faumuina

1. Your rise from the junior system in Auckland into the NRL world was quite rapid; was it something you were expecting or was it a shock for you to play so early?
It was definitely a shock and happened very quickly. I went from playing in our local under 19 side then moving up to our reserves then senior side, making the Auckland rep team and NZ under 18 side. Before I knew it, I was turning up for pre-season training at the Raiders. All this happened within 8 months.

2. Your first-grade debut came with the Canberra Raiders; why Canberra and what was it like playing first-grade for the first time?
It was between the Roosters and Raiders and I chose the Raiders – sorry, my Mother chose the Raiders because they had a hostel which was run by a Samoan couple. The Roosters were going to put me in a house with other players and no adult supervision. My debut was made more memorable because it was against the Warriors in Auckland. My whole family and extended family showed for my debut and I’ll never forget that.

3. d had your most successful period as a player; what did it mean to you to return home and play for your hometown team?
Returning home was a blessing and a curse. My first year at the Warriors, I was in and out of first grade. I was more concerned with going out and having a good time with my mates then footy. My second year was a lot better as I knuckled down and really got stuck into training. Having my family around was a huge blessing but looking back, I was very selfish with some of the decisions I made.

4. By your own admission, you were not the player or the leader you wanted to be because of off-field indiscretions. Looking back, what would you have done differently and what would you tell your former young self?
Playing in the NRL is no easy feat and the profile that comes with it can be used to do great things. If I had my time again, I would have done a lot more community work. I would use my profile to add value to people and organisations. Being a positive role model is easy when you have core values and beliefs which I know I did, unfortunately when I consumed alcohol, that all went out the window. I would also start to create a life after football and also mentor young players that were coming through. “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way”. I was given a great opportunity and I didn’t value it.

5. At what precise moment did you realise that you had to change your ways and become a better person and role model?
When I had my first child, suddenly it wasn’t about me anymore. I finally had a reason to change and the thought of my children reading about Dad and all the trouble he was in was scary. It’s been 7 years since I played and I’m using whatever profile I have left to be a role model now. Basically making up for what I should’ve done during my career.

6. You released your autobiography ‘The Second Phase’; what prompted you to release the book and what do you hope its release achieves?
The purpose was to get my message out and basically say, “hey, I really stuffed up but I’ve turned my life around. Here’s how I did it”. I wanted fans to see the other side of professional sport. Tell my side of the story and also share how I overcame my alcohol addiction. My mentor put it best when he said: “if we can’t help each other, what’s the point in gathering experiences”. Basically, I’m sharing my mistakes and the main message is that you don’t let your past dictate your future.

7. If you could give any budding rugby league player some advice, what would it be?
“No guarantees in professional sport” is what another mentor of mine would always say. Playing in the NRL is an opportunity, value it. The traits that rugby league teaches you can be applied to every aspect of your life. Stay grounded and work hard on and off the field and always remember that you are a reflection of your club, family but more importantly yourself. Be a pillar in your community and know that young people are looking up to you. Don’t look at being a role model as added pressure, look at it as an honour.

Facebook: @sionefaumuinaoffical.


Twitter: @sione_faumuina.

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 2: Aaron Gorrell

Back again with part 2 of our NRL interview series and we had a chat with former St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos and Catalan Dragons hooker, Aaron Gorrell.

He spoke to us about his career, his post-playing days and why he went into coaching, so sit back, read and enjoy the ride!

Aaron Gorrell interview:

1. As a Wollongong local, did you always harbour an ambition to play for the St George Illawarra Dragons?
Growing up in Wollongong, I would go and sit on the hill and watch the Steelers. I was lucky enough to then play Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Flegg for them so, at that stage, that was what I always wanted to do. I always had a soft spot for the Dragons so it was easy once they merged!

2. Tell us about the match-winning conversion in round 15, 2006 against the Broncos. What was running through your head at the time with the game on the line?
As a goal kicker, it’s the moment you’ve always dreamt of especially at a ground like Suncorp with a big crowd against a team like the Broncos. I hadn’t had a shot that night – Matty Head had taken the previous shots. I was heading back and one of the trainers called me back saying the call had come down for me to take it. It was probably a blessing as I didn’t have too much time to over think it. To me, as soon as I kicked it, I thought it was going through!

3. After such a good start to your career at Catalans, you unfortunately injured your knee and missed the rest of the season; did you set any goals upon your return and what got you through the rehabilitation?
Yeah, it was very frustrating. Being at a new club and wanting to make a good impression. We had won our first two games, one of them Hull who were beaten in the grand final the year before and leading Leeds by 40 when it happened. It was tough – probably the toughest few months of my career. Trying to be part of a new club in a new country. I was doing everything I could to try and get back on the field.

4.  What were the reasons behind your NRL return in 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos?
I had a third-year option at Catalans and was more than happy to stay. It’s a great club and great supporters, not to mention an amazing part of the world to live in. While we were sorting that out, the Broncos option came up and I thought the opportunity to play for a club like the Broncos was too good to pass up.

5. You took a step away from professional rugby league to take up the coaching role at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos; how has that experience been so far?
Yes, I always wanted to coach and my body wasn’t handling the full-time training. So when I was approached by the Queanbeyan Kangaroos, I jumped at it. They were a club that had a lot of success but hadn’t won a Comp in 30 years so I thought it was a good challenge. We won the 1st two years – 2010 and 11 – got beat in the GF in 2012 and won again in 2013. We made the semis 2014 and final 2015. 2016 was very disappointing. We lost round 1 and went the rest of the year undefeated. We led the GF until the last minute and got beaten by a penalty goal . I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully we can win another this year!

6.  In addition to that, has coaching always been an avenue you have wanted to pursue post-footy?
I’ve loved coaching so far and I’d love an opportunity if one pops up. There’s nothing better than seeing someone learn something from you or helping them achieve what they have been working towards.

7. Looking back on your career, what was your career highlight?
There are a few and all for different reasons. Obviously, your debut will always be special. Playing for the Junior Kangaroos was special. I think no matter what level, pulling on your countries jumper will always be special. The kick in Brisbane. The 1st grand final at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos is up there, too. Only a few years before they were getting beat by 100, so to see how much it meant to the players and supporters that were there through the tough times was amazing!

8. If you could give one piece of advice to young, budding rugby league players, what would it be?
Train hard, listen and never stop learning. You can learn something from everyone!

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 1: Kevin Campion

Kevin Campion

Every rugby league fan has their favourite players, their favourite teams and their favourite moments; but have you ever taken a step back and wondered what former rugby league players are up to post-footy?

After a fantastic suggestion to us by a user on Twitter, we made a decision to get in touch with former players and talk to them about their careers, their highlights, their adventures and their memories, as well as advice they would have for budding rugby league players.

In the first part of our new interview series, we had a chat with Kevin Campion, a premiership winner with the Brisbane Broncos, as well as stints with the Gold Coast Seagulls, the St George Dragons, the Adelaide Rams, the New Zealand Warriors & the North Queensland Cowboys.

If you happen to be a fan of those teams, enjoy the read and the interview. Even if you’re not, just enjoy the interview anyway and plenty more to come.

Kevin Campion Interview:

1. What are your earliest memories of rugby league growing up?
Mostly going to the Mackay showgrounds and watching dad play. I distinctly remember the smell of liniment from the old sheds and playing footy with all my mates on the dog track that circled the main field with anything that resembled a ball.

2. Throughout your career, you played for 6 different teams; which team did you feel most at home with?
The Broncos. I remember telling Wayne that I wanted to become part of the Broncos Family when I arrived. I loved the place.

3.  In your first year with the Broncos, you won a grand final and scored a try in that game; what was it like to get your hands on the grand final trophy among your team-mates?
It was an amazing experience. To be part of arguably one of the greatest grand final teams of all time is something kids from North Queensland can only dream of.  

4. Born in Sarina and growing up with rugby league in Queensland, was it always a goal of yours to play Origin? When you did, what were your thoughts of it and does it differ from regular club games?
I think it’s every young player who loves the game of rugby league, their dream is to play Origin and it was no different for me. When I finally got my chance, I knew it was a different beast to a club game. The speed and intensity without any room for mistakes are the difference and throw in the pressure from the whole State needing a win.

5. At the 2000 World Cup, you were given the opportunity to represent Ireland; talk to us about that experience and what your Irish heritage means to you.
Yes, my ancestors are from Dublin and when the opportunity presented itself, I thought what a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be passed up and it didn’t disappoint. We were the first Ireland side to make the quarter-finals of a rugby league World Cup and we were just pipped by our arch enemies England by a small margin.

6. Post-footy, how have you been keeping yourself busy and are you still up-to-date with the game at present?
Yes, I am still involved and have recently taken up a mentoring role with the ISC Tweed Heads Seagulls. Loving it.

7. If you could give any young, budding player advice, what would it be?
You are going to have a once in a lifetime experience but if you are not prepared to sacrifice everything in your life for this experience and be prepared for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, then this ride may not be the ride for you.

Holden Cup to First-Grade Percentage Breakdown by Team

Many people have often wondered about the value of the Holden Cup and whether it serves as a genuine pathway for young, budding rugby league players to make the next step into first-grade. Blessed with rich talent and admittedly, players that failed to cut the mustard, just which teams have been the most successful in procuring talent to take that next step?

Here at NRL News, we love stats and everything they represent, so we thought we would cast our eye over this very question and assess which teams have enjoyed the most success when it comes to blooding youngsters from their Holden Cup ranks into first-grade.

Just note, this has nothing to do with juniors or where a player played their junior footy. There will be crossover for some players as they played for more than one side during the recent years of Holden Cup and those players that have played for more than one side have been included within both teams and the overall percentage.

We have tried to ensure that this is as accurate as possible but if you notice any player missing from any side that should be there, please, let us know, and we can amend that swiftly and accordingly.

So, without further adieu, here are the percentage and success rates of all 16 NRL teams when it comes to the successful promotion and transition of their Holden Cup players in order of the highest percentage and thus success rate:

New Zealand Warriors

Total number & percentage: 53/192 at 27.6%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Brad Abbey, Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Patrick Ah Van, David Bhana, Erin Clark, Sonny Fai, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Sosaia Feki, Glen Fisiiahi, David Fusitu’a, James Gavet, Charlie Gubb, Siliva Havili, Adam Henry, Peta Hiku, Konrad Hurrell, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Mark Ioane, Isaac  John, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Ngani Laumape, Siuatonga Likiliki, Mason Lino, Sam Lisone, Kevin Locke, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lousi, Sione Lousi, Alehana Mara, Ben Matulino, Ken Maumalo, Constantine Mika, Nathaniel Neale, Agnatius Paasi, Russell Packer, John Palavi, Abraham Papalii, Isaiah Papalii, Nathaniel Peteru, Steve Rapira, Nathaniel Roache, Ligi Sao, Nafe Seluini, Toafofoa Sipley, Omar Slaimankhel, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Elijah Taylor, Jazz Tevaga, Carlos Tuimavave, Bill Tupou & Albert Vete.

The total number of first-grade games: 2082 games.

Total Origin appearances: 0.

Total international appearances: 128 – New Zealand: 82, Tonga: 25, Samoa: 17 & Cook Islands: 4.

Brisbane Broncos

Total number & percentage: 45/165 at 27.27%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Daniel Alvaro, Tyson Andrews, Jai Arrow, Kurt Baptiste, Gerard Beale, Caleb Binge, Kurt Capewell, Dale Copley, Cameron Cullen, Mitchell Dodds, Jordan Drew, Mitchell Frei, Dane Gagai, Brendon Gibb, Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn, Jake Granville, David Hala, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Jordan Kahu, Danny Levi, Dunamis Lui, Lachlan Maranta, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Francis Molo, Jayden Nikorima, Kodi Nikorima, Corey Norman, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, Tom Opacic, Tevita Pangai Jr., Jonas Pearson, Mitch Rivett, Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, Michael Spence, Jaydn Su’A, Ash Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Aaron Whitchurch & Jharal Yow Yeh.

The total number of first-grade games: 2627.

The total number of Origin appearances: Queensland: 27.

Total international appearances: 66 – New Zealand: 39, Fiji: 10, Australia: 10, Samoa: 5, Tonga: 1 & Cook Islands: 1.

Wests Tigers

Total number & percentage: 50/205 at 24.4%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Mitch Achurch, Sitaleki Akauola, Neccrom Areaiiti, Blake Ayshford, Luke Brooks, Nathan Brown, Manaia Cherrington, Simon Dwyer, JJ Felise, Andrew Fifita, David Fifita, Asipeli Fine, Matt Groat, Delouise Hoeter, Justin Hunt, Marika Koroibete, Blake Lazarus, Leva Li, Jacob Liddle, Lamar Liolevave, Isaac Liu, Matt Lodge, Kyle Lovett, Joel Luani, Robert Lui, Te Maire Martin, Willie Mataka, Jacob Miller, Nathan Milone, Tim Moltzen, Mitch Moses, Jake Mullaney, Ben Murdoch-Masila, David Nofoaluma, Moses Pangai, Pat Politoni, Leivaha Pulu, Junior Roqica, Kurtis Rowe, Matt Ryan, Brenden Santi, Jason Schirnack, Tim Simona, Curtis Sironen, Shaun Spence, Sauaso Sue, Moses Suli, Peni Tagive, James Tedesco & Aaron Woods.

The total number of first-grade games: 1827.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 19.

The total number of international appearances: 72 – Samoa: 19, Australia: 15, Tonga: 13,  Fiji: 13, Italy: 6, United States: 4, Cook Islands: 1 & New Zealand: 1.

Sydney Roosters

Total number & percentage: 46/199 at 23.12%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Rohan Ahern, John Asiata, Cheyse Blair, Sam Brunton, Nat Butcher, Kurt Capewell, Anthony Cherrington, Boyd Cordner, Tyler Cornish, Sandor Earl, Brendan Elliott, Kane Evans, Asipeli Fine, Brendan Frei, Jake Friend, Grant Garvey, Josh Graham, David Hala, Jackson Hastings, Ryley Jacks, Ben Jones, Martin Kennedy, Mark Kheirallah, Samisoni Langi, Joey Leilua, Vincent Leuluai, Jack Littlejohn, Isaac Liu, Ethan Lowe, Nene Macdonald, Joseph Manu, Mose Masoe, Willis Meehan, Taane Milne, Latrell Mitchell, Tautau Moga, Dylan Napa, Jayden Nikorima, Dominique Peyroux, Curtis Rona, Tom Symonds, James Tamou, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Stanley Waqa, Connor Watson & Antonio Winterstein.

The total number of first-grade games: 2158

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 20.

The total number of international appearances: 85 – Samoa: 32, Australia: 14, New Zealand: 11, Cook Islands: 8, Fiji: 7, Tonga: 6, Papua New Guinea: 5 & Canada: 2.

Canberra Raiders

Total number & percentage: 37/168 at 22.02%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Matt Allwood, Mitch Barnett, Luke Bateman, Shannon Boyd, Morgan Boyle, Justin Carney, Michael Chee-Kam, Mitch Cornish, Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Lachlan Croker, Josh Dugan, Shaun Fensom, Matt Frawley, Jeremy Hawkins, Jarrad Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Drury Low, Nathan Massey, Sam Mataora, Matt McIlwrick, Anthony Milford, Steven Naughton, Mark Nicholls, Tevita Pangai, Josh Papalii, Michael Picker, Sami Sauiluma, Nick Skinner, James Stuart, Joel Thompson, Paul Vaughan, Daniel Vidot, Travis Waddell, Jack Wighton & Sam Williams.

The total number of first-grade games: 1738.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 9 & QLD: 6.

The total number of international appearances: 40 – Australia: 19, Samoa: 13, Cook Islands: 4, Italy: 3 & Scotland: 1.

Parramatta Eels

Total number & percentage: 41/187 at 21.9%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Mitch Allgood, Josh Aloiai, Daniel Alvaro, Jason Baitieri, Rory Brien, Nathan Davis, John Folau, Bevan French, Jacob Gagan, Nathan Gardner, Trent Hodkinson, Justin Hunt, Tui Kamikamica, Kris Keating, Albert Kelly, Taniela Lasalo, Leva Li, Jacob Loko, Jon Mannah, Tim Mannah, Ryan Matterson, Anthony Mitchell, Tepai Moeroa, Ryan Morgan, Daniel Mortimer, Pat O’Hanlon, Pauli Pauli, Junior Paulo, Kaysa Pritchard, Semi Radradra, Tim Robinson, Ava Seumanufagai, Ken Sio, Reimis Smith, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jorge Taufua, Taulima Tautai, Peni Terepo, Vai Toutai, Daniel Tupou & Joseph Ualesi.

The total number of first-grade games: 1958.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 10.

The total number of international appearances: 32 – Tonga: 11, France: 10, Fiji: 5, Samoa: 4 & Australia: 2.

Newcastle Knights

Total number & percentage: 39/192 at 20.31%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Josh Ailaomai, Sam Anderson, Joe Boyce, Adam Clydsdale, Jack Cogger, Cory Denniss, Joel Edwards, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Jaelen Feeney, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Johnathan Ford, Mitch Garbutt, Josh King, Brock Lamb, Danny Levi, Jake Mamo, Kurt Mann, Chanel Mata’utia, Pat Mata’utia, Peter Mata’utia, Sione Mata’utia, Constantine Mika, Kevin Naiqama, Api Pewhairangi, Dylan Phythian, Tyler Randell, Chad Redman, Tyrone Roberts, Daniel Saifiti, Jacob Saifiti, Jason Schirnack, Korbin Sims, Will Smith, Ryan Stig, Sam Stone, Joseph Tapine, Zane Tetevano, Paterika Vaivai & Luke Yates.

The total number of first-grade games: 1029.

The total number of Origin appearances: 0.

The total number of international appearances: 32 –  Fiji: 15, Cook Islands: 5, New Zealand: 4, Australia: 3, Samoa: 3 & Ireland: 2.

Melbourne Storm

Total number & percentage: 36/182 at 19.78%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kirisome Auva’a, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Dane Chisholm, Brodie Croft, Matt Duffie, Mahe Fonua, Slade Griffin, Aidan Guerra, Ben Hampton, Tohu Harris, William Isa, Sam Joe, Luke Kelly, Richie Kennar, Blake Leary, Matt Lodge, Kurt Mann, Jordan McLean, Cam Munster, Justin O’Neill, Kevin Proctor, Robbie Rochow, Billy Rogers, Curtis Scott, Denny Solomona, Joe Stimson, Aiden Tolman, Joseph Tomane, Young Tonumaipea, Suliasi Vunivalu, Christian Welch, Gareth Widdop & Brayden Wiliame.

The total number of first-grade games: 1774.

The total number of Origin appearances: QLD: 12.

The total number of international appearances: 94 – New Zealand: 57, England: 17, France: 4, Tonga: 4, Italy: 3, Australia: 3, Fiji: 3 & Samoa: 3.

St George Illawarra Dragons

Total number & percentage: 34/172 at 19.77%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Euan Aitken, Jack Bird, Jack de Belin, Adam Docker, Matt Dufty, Kenny Edwards, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Daniel Fepuleai, Jai Field, Addin Fonua-Blake, Craig Garvey, Yaw Kiti Glymin, Nathan Green, Jackson Hastings, Beau Henry, Jacob Host, Drew Hutchison, Cameron King, Luciano Leilua, Kane Linnett, Jake Marketo, Alex McKinnon, Trent Merrin, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Rory O’Brien, Adam Quinlan, Mitch Rein, Charly Runciman, Hame Sele, Chase Stanley, Kyle Stanley, Jack Stockwell, Joe Vickery & Dean Whare.

The total number of first-grade games: 1438.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 15

The total number of international appearances: 38 – New Zealand: 19, Scotland: 6, Australia: 6, Samoa: 4 & Cook Islands: 3.

Canterbury Bulldogs

Total number & percentage: 38/211 at 18%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Harlan Alaalatoa, Ben Barba, Lachlan Burr, Paul Carter, Adam Elliott, Herman Ese’ese, Jaelen Feeney, Dale Finucane, Jake Foster, Danny Fualalo, Daniel Harrison, Jamal Idris, Josh Jackson, Sam Kasiano, Sione Kite, David Klemmer, Tim Lafai, Shaun Lane, Samisoni Langi, Leilani Latu, Nathan Massey, Moses Mbye, Matt Minto, Marcelo Montoya, Ed Murphy, Heka Nanai, Lloyd Perrett, Tyrone Phillips, Shane Pumipi, Josh Reynolds, Aidan Sezer, Nathan Smith, Reimis Smith, Tupou Sopoaga, Peni Ratu Tagive, Tautalatasi Tasi, Arana Taumata & Martin Taupau.

The total number of first-grade games: 1592.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 12.

The total number of international appearances: 55 – New Zealand: 21, Australia: 11, Samoa: 10, Tonga: 7, Fiji: 4 & Scotland: 2.

Penrith Panthers

Total number & percentage: 39/222 at 17.6%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Tinirau Arona, Blake Austin, Waqa Blake, Braidon Burns, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Cleary, Damien Cook, Lachlan Coote, Dylan Edwards, Tom Eisenhuth, Sarafu Fatiaki, James Fisher-Harris, Tim Glasby, Wade Graham, Tim Grant, Corey Harawira-Naera, Masada Iosefa, William Isa, George Jennings, Robert Jennings, Moses Leota, Matt Lodge, Sam McKendry, Kierran Moseley, Matt Moylan, Joseph Paulo, Daniel Penese, James Roberts, Joel Romelo, Tony Satini, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Harry Siejka, Chris Smith, Junior Tia-Kilifi, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Matt Wright & Isaah Yeo.

The total number of first-grade games: 1838

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6.

The total number of international appearances: 36 – Samoa: 14, New Zealand: 11, USA: 4, Cook Islands: 3, Scotland: 3, & Australia: 1.

North Queensland Cowboys

Total number & percentage: 26/153 at 17%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Javid Bowen, Josh Chudleigh, Kyle Feldt, Obe Geia, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Chris Grevsmuhl, Coen Hess, Sam Hoare, Jayden Hodges, Dane Hogan, Tom Humble, Felise Kaufusi, Patrick Kaufusi, Viliame Kikau, Tyson Martin, Michael Morgan, Moses Pangai, Kalyn Ponga, Zac Santo, James Segeyaro, Nick Slyney, Ben Spina, Jason Taumalolo, Ray Thompson, Will Tupou & Wayne Ulugia.

The total number of first-grade games: 735.

The total number of Origin appearances: QLD: 5.

The total number of international appearances: 37 – Tonga: 13, New Zealand: 9, Papua New Guinea: 7, Australia: 6 & Fiji: 2.

Gold Coast Titans

Total number & percentage: 33/216 at 15.28%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Caleb Binge, Jamie Dowling, Kane Elgey, Kevin Gordon, Jy Hitchcox, Jahrome Hughes, Hymel Hunt, Sam Irwin, Ryan James, Brian Kelly, Max King, Tom Kingston, Karl Lawton, Kayne Lawton, Will Matthews, David Mead, Cody Nelson, John Olive, Luke Page, Dominique Peyroux, Jordan Rankin, Jordan Rapana, Ben Ridge, Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Srama, Bodene Thompson, Joseph Tomane, Esi Tonga, Siosaia Vave, Cody Walker, Shannon Walker & Jarrod Wallace.

The total number of first-grade games: 1278.

The total number of Origin appearances: 0.

The total number of international appearances: 25 – Papua New Guinea: 9, Cook Islands: 5, Tonga: 5, New Zealand: 4, & Samoa: 2.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Total number & percentage: 30/197 at 15.23%.

List of players to have played first-grade: George Burgess, Luke Capewell, Jason Clark, Angus Crichton, Dylan Farrell, Jack Gosiewski, Aaron Gray, Alex Johnston, Luke Keary, Apisai Koroisau, Josh Mansour, Cam McInnes, Kane Morgan, Cameron Murray, Zane Musgrove, John Olive, Nathan Peats, Eddy Pettybourne, Tyrone Phillips, Adam Reynolds, James Roberts, Chris Sandow, James Segeyaro, Josh Starling, Brad Takairangi, Siosifa Talakai, Kyle Turner, Dave Tyrrell, Junior Vaivai & Dylan Walker.

The total number of first-grade games: 1974.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 7.

The total number of international appearances: England: 11, Australia: 10: Fiji: 6, USA: 4, Fiji: 3, Lebanon: 3, Cook Islands: 3, Papua New Guinea: 1 & Samoa: 1.

Cronulla Sharks

Total number & percentage: 27/191 at 14.14%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Josh Addo-Carr, Jack Bosden, Jayden Brailey, Fa’amanu Brown, Jayson Bukuya, Blake Ferguson, Karl Filiga, Tyson Frizell, Nathan Gardner, James Hasson, Valentine Holmes, Lancen Joudo, Albert Kelly, Ricky Leutele, Michael Lichaa, Jon Mannah, Penani Manumalealii, Sione Masima, Stewart Mills, Kyle O’Donnell, Tyrone Peachey, Shane Pumipi, Patrice Siolo, Scott Sorenson, Nathan Stapleton, Chad Townsend & Matthew Wright.

The total number of first-grade games: 1169.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6.

The total number of international appearances: Australia: 14, Fiji: 10, Samoa: 10, Wales: 5, &  Scotland: 3.

Manly Sea Eagles

Total number & percentage: 19/187 at 10.16%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Jason Annear, Billy Bainbridge, Jamie Buhrer, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Drinkwater, Kenny Edwards, Kieran Foran, Clint Gutherson, Will Hopoate, Liam Knight, Darcy Lussick, Michael Oldfield, Brad Parker, Lama Tasi, Jorge Taufua, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves & Dean Whare.

The total number of first-grade games: 1193.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6 & QLD: 6.

The total number of international appearances: New Zealand: 53, Australia: 12, Tonga: 6 & Samoa: 1.



Ricky’s Team of the Week Rd 4

Coen Hess

Another entertaining round of footy as some teams are left with genuine soul-searching to do as others continue to fly high and soar above the rest of the pack. Momentum is everything in rugby league as is confidence and with so many good performers enjoying a rich vein of form, just who cracks our team of the week for Rd 4. 

Just note, as per the last few weeks, because the players named are done so based on the allocated points we hand out for our own awards throughout the year, some players will be named out of position to accommodate for that and to ensure total consistency with our team.

Well, stick around and find out because we shall not keep you waiting any longer. Here it is, Ricky’s Team of the Week for Rd 4:

  1. Tom Trbojevic – After a slow start, Tommy Turbo has found his feet and he put in another impressive performance. The heir to the fullback throne at Manly, the position is one that many expect him to hold for years to come. The scary part is, as good as he is, he will only get better.

2. Jordan Rapana – It would be safe to say that Rapana has continued his 2016 form to establish himself as one of the elite wingers in the game. Despite some inconsistencies from the Raiders, his game rarely falters as he continues to score tries and prove a handful for opposition defences.

3. Josh Dugan – A rare entry for Dugan in a team of the week this season who despite his club’s good form, has been overshadowed by performances from team-mates. Not this week. A strong, confident performance from Dugan will have fans hoping it can continue as they look to maintain their form.

4. Michael Gordon – A surprise packet so far in 2017, Gordon is just what the doctor ordered for the Roosters. His sleek, confident play has the Roosters firing on all cylinders and his link-up play with 5/8 Luke Keary and centre Latrell Mitchell is a joy to watch as a fan.

5. Josh Addo-Carr – Another surprise performer in 2017, Addo-Carr has so far filled the shoes of Marika Koroibete perfectly. His speed and hard work are on display every week and he was rewarded with a runaway try for his efforts.

6. Johnathan Thurston – The game’s elite half is back in business. After a slow grind, Thurston had the ball on a string and produced the goods in a masterful display of class, precision and finesse as he racked up the stats in the club’s win v the Titans.

7. Daly Cherry-Evans – Another player coming more into his own this year, the man nicknamed DCE has been under some pressure since the departure of Kieran Foran but he is starting to handle that and the captaincy. A masterclass on his part as he laid the ball on to all parts of the ground with feet and hands.

8. Paul Vaughan – You could make an argument that Vaughan is currently the form prop of the competition with seemingly no end in sight to his consistency. Playing solid minutes and making the most of them, he is leading the Dragons pack forward and propelling them towards success.

9.  Cameron Smith – For his leadership and smarts under pressure, Cam Smith makes the team this week. The defining moment in his side’s win over the Tigers was a 40/20 he kicked that turned the tide of the game when the Storm’s back was against the wall. He has always had that instinctive play in him and that one was no different.

10. Adam Blair – At times criticised for pushing an offload or making a silly error, Blair continues to run hard and hit hard and establish himself as a key player in the Broncos forward charge. Whilst not as flashy or gifted  as others, he has the courage of a lion and every team needs that.

11. Coen Hess – What a revelation Hess has been this year! Initially slated for minimal time off the bench, he has exploded out of the blocks and performed consistently whether it has been from the bench or starting in the absence of others.

12. Corey Harawira-Naera – An impressive debut has many asking just who CHN is. A hulking edge player, he made the most of the opportunity and gave coach Anthony Griffin plenty to think about as he dismantled the opposition defence, picking them apart at will.

13. Paul Gallen – Yet another workhorse-like performance from the Sharks veteran who ran hard, tackled hard and produced the goods all day against the Eels. A neat little 1-2 saw him nab a try assist and line-break assist as well.

14. Scott Bolton – Stepping up in the absence of Matt Scott, many believe Bolton is a genuine Origin contender and if he continues to play as he is, he may well be. Accustomed to coming off the bench, he has lost none of the spark and fire that sees him perform strongly off the bench in years past.

15. Andrew McCullough – Milestone games can be bogey ones for many players but McCullough was standing tall at the end of it, as his side not only won but he also got on the scoresheet with a lovely show and go from dummy half. One of the genuine workhorses of the league.

16. Siosaia Vave – In what was a game to forget for the Eels in many regards, the impact and punch off the bench from Vave was a rare highlight. His first game with the club after off-season surgery, Vave showed that he has a spot in the team and that he can make an impact.

17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona – Perhaps one of the biggest back-rowers you will see yet so incredibly mobile, the man they simply call NAS is a huge specimen but puts his frame to good use. Hard to tackle and bring down, he shrugs off defenders with ease and makes running the ball look like child’s play.

Player of the Week: Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys).

Ricky’s Team of the Week Rd 3

Jordan Rapana

A round of surprises and upsets, there were equally surprising performances as some players bounced back whilst others failed to perform. Focusing on those that excelled, the Team of the Week will throw up some interesting names! Also, just note, players may appear slightly out of position based on the points system that we utilise. For example, if there is no centre to have accumulated points but three wingers have done so, we will move a winger into the centre position.

So without further adieu, here you go. Ricky’s Team of the Week for Rd 3:

  1. Tom Trbojevic – Taking over the fullback role from the retiring Brett Stewart, Trbojevic had a slow start to the season but is kicking on and making inroads into opposition defences. A remarkably talented player, he shapes as a genuine elite fullback in years to come.

2. Michael Gordon – An early surprise packet form wise, Gordon has been a breath of fresh air for the Roosters. Calm, composed and experienced at the back, he has made his presence felt as he guides the Roosters towards wins and potential success.

3. Josh Morris – With several young guns in the Bulldogs backline, Morris and his brother Brett are needed to step up and guide them and the veteran centre did that with an impressive display in Rd 3.

4. Jordan Rapana – A phenomenal game from Rapana against the Tigers as he made breaks for fun and was quite literally unstoppable against a poor Tigers defence. His statistics from this game were remarkable.

5. Alex Johnston – Under tough scrutiny from many Souths fans, Johnston has so far made a good transition to fullback in 2017 and performed well for the club since Inglis’ injury. Consistency is the key, however.

6. Shaun Johnson – Enjoying perhaps one of his best starts to the season individually, the Warriors overall performances might make it seem as if they are struggling but that is through no fault of Johnson who is making the most of what is presented to him.

7. Mitch Pearce – Some want him back in Origin, others do not. However, his form continues and his partnership with Keary develops further, Origin selection may be a mere formality.

8. Jordan McLean – Talk about consistency and McLean is one of the first names on the list this season. Tremendously talented, he is a huge reason as to why the Storm is able to control a game and make efficient meterage in the opposition defensive line.

9. Tyrone Roberts – Switched around somewhat throughout his career and in the Rd 3 clash, Roberts move to fullback was perhaps the winning formula even though he started the game at hooker. He was in everything and proved his worth and value to the Titans side.

10. Tim Mannah – An unsung hero of the Eels forward pack despite their recruits coming in. A hard worker, a tireless player and a genuine leader, Mannah sets the bar for his fellow Eels props with commitment, determination and will power.

11. Josh Papalii – At present, he is the form back-rower of the competition. Just when you think he cannot do anymore, he has another spectacular game. His partnership on the edges with his inside and outside men is a big reason behind his success.

12. Josh Jackson – Another elite back-rower in the game, Jackson is highly rated by Dogs fans and is a consistent performer in their forward pack. A hard worker in his own right, his form on the edge is a key for the Bulldogs.

13. Jamie Buhrer – One of Knights key recruits ahead of 2017, Buhrer has so far lived up to the expectation and helped guide the younger forward pack around. Playing big minutes himself and leading from the front, his leadership and his resolve playing a part in a rejuvenated Knights outfit.

14. Brenton Lawrence – Having overcome his back injury, Lawrence is turning heads and impressing Manly fans once more with strong carries and hard running, producing the goods with big metres and opportunistic tries as a result.

15. Junior Paulo – A bullocking man mountain, Junior hits the line as hard as you will see from any prop and his presence his felt in attack. An enforcer of the Raiders forward pack, his metres set the tone for the rest of the forwards.

16. Chris McQueen – Another versatile player, McQueen had a shift to the centres in Rd 3 and was a strong performer as he scored two tries and made several breaks. Whilst not a noted try-scorer, when he has the chance to score, he makes the most of it.

17. John Asiata – A surprising selection perhaps but with much of the focus on other forwards in the Cowboys side, the work-rate and commitment of Asiata can often go unnoticed. His efforts off the bench give a boost to the Cowboys at any point in the game.

Player of the Week: Jordan Rapana.

Ricky’s Team of the Week Rd 2

Cody Walker

Back again for another week with our team of the week put together by key contributor Ricky. It was a round of upsets, strong performances and interesting games but just who cut the mustard to make it this week in our top team.

Once again, as we will do every week with this, we stress that our selections are based on the respective points that we give out to the respective players after each individual game.

  1. Tom Trbojevic – Ater a quiet Rd 1 game, Trbojevic came to the fore with a strong performance for his Manly side despite their Rd 2 loss. The tall, lanky fullback has the potential to become an elite player and Manly fans will be hoping that is just the case.

2. Nathan Ross – A fan favourite at the Knights, Ross is a key figure in their solid start to 2017. He loves scoring tries and the club’s Rd 2 win over the Titans was no different. He works hard, plays hard and is loved and revered by fans, the club and his team-mates.

3. Tyrone Peachey – Not traditionally a centre, Peachey has made the position his own and he produced a stellar performance in the position in a comfortable win over the Tigers. Whether it was making metres, breaking tackles or making line-breaks, he was doing it all.

4. Cameron Munster – Thrust into the vacant fullback role in the absence of Billy Slater, Munster has taken the role in his stride and performed brilliantly. Rd 2 was no exception as his crafty play and link-up from the back echoed the very same effect of Slater in back-line movements.

5. Semi Radradra – Although the weight of his pending court case might be on his mind, Semi did not show it at all. He scored a remarkable four tries in the club’s romp of the Dragons and seemed to be enjoying his footy again.

6. Cody Walker – Needing someone to step up in the absence of Inglis who is out for the season, it was a masterclass by Walker playing at 5/8 who was the catalyst behind Souths impressive win. One of the craftiest players you will see, his running game is perhaps the most impressive aspect to his game.

7. Corey Norman – With big expectations to meet – both set by himself and the outside rugby league landscape – Norman has started the season impressively with two tremendous displays. The focal point of the Eels attack, he is leading from the front and taking it upon himself to guide the side.

8. Viliame Kikau – Better late than never to make a debut but Kikau was just as impressive as everyone knew he would be. A hard-runner, a spirited player and a committed worker, Kikau’s efforts will not have gone unnoticed.

9. Jayden Brailey – With much hype surrounding his entry into first-grade, Brailey has not disappointed to date. Size is no issue as he puts his body on the line in defence, trying to emulate the success of Michael Ennis in the role. Scoring a debut try was a handy sweetener for him.

10. Jack Stockwell – A surprise packet of the Knights side and the NRL in general, Stockwell is producing the form that many believed he was capable of during his Dragons days. The fact he comes off the bench to achieve such good form is even more impressive.

11. Boyd Cordner – One of the game’s elite back-rowers, Cordner’s play on the edge has always been remarkable and as the Roosters find their mojo, there will only be more opportunities for him to excel. One of the best line-runners you will see on the edge, Cordner thrusts himself into his work and comes out on top.

12. Wade Graham – A rare hat-trick for Graham this week and a much deserved one. Biding his time patiently for Origin duties, he is a quality player in his own right on the flanks and is the man touted for future captaincy honours once Paul Gallen retires.

13. Jason Taumalolo – Without question, he is the man of the moment right now. Amassing more than 500m in just two games, there is seemingly no-one that can stop Taumalolo in his tracks. A hulking figure in the Cowboys pack, he leads from the front and sets the tone.

14. Coen Hess – The young buck of the Cowboys go-forward has so much promise and looks the goods to reach the promised land. With more opportunity likely to come now after some injuries, he is the sort of player that you would expect to make the most of it.

15. Brock Lamb – One of the under-rated figures in some ways at the Knights club, the young half has performed well in the opening two rounds since being thrust into the 5/8 role after Mullen’s departure due to drug issues. Linking well with Hodkinson, the two are forming a nice combination.

16. Brenko Lee – Yet another surprise packet to start the season. Not many thought he would start in the centres for the Bulldogs this year but he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands with nice touches and nice plays.

17. Suaia Matagi – An early contender in the eyes of some for buy of the year, Matagi runs as hard as a mack truck on every carry, a trait that Eels fans have been crying out for. Complementing the other Eels forwards well, Matagi runs hard and hits just as hard as well.

Player of the Round: Cody Walker