Another week of the NRL season gone by and yet another installment of the weekly team of the week. Some strong performances in Rd 5. Some from players we expect, others from players that we may not have. Either way, they all deserve to be on the list this week and so there will be no more waiting.
For Rd 5, here is Ricky’s Team of the Week:
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Touted as one of the next big fullbacks to take the NRL by storm, Tuivasa-Sheck is known for remarkably quick feet that leaves defenders bamboozled and stranded. Although his side may have lost this week, he hardly put a foot wrong as the quick foot work he is so famous for led to a couple of breaks and opportunities. As he matures and finds his feet at fullback, he will cause even more heartache for opposition teams.
2. Marika Koroibete – Every team and their fans love a good Fijian flyer and the Storm have one of the best in the business in Koroibete. Blistering speed, raw power and sheer determination, that trio of traits is what sees him excel under Craig Bellamy. Not only is he becoming a fan favourite at the Storm, he is becoming a quality winger in the NRL. His form has been at the very top of the echelon in season 2015.
3. James Roberts – His off-field issues in the past were always well documented but it would seem that young Roberts has seen the error of his ways and curbed any lingering issues. Instead, he is taking it all out on the footy field and showcasing the talents that had him highly rated by both the Bunnies faithful and the Penrith faithful. Another player blessed with blistering speed, it his deft touch and surprising power that have him excelling in 2015.
4. Josh Dugan – Putting all and any injury concerns aside, when he is fit and firing, Dugan is a key player for not only the Dragons but also for NSW. His versatility across the back-line has proven to be crucial for both sides, though fullback has long been his preference. Hitting form at the right time of the season, if Dugan does indeed stay fit, then he will help guide both the Dragons and NSW to solid efforts across the season.
5. Tom Trobojevic – When a player makes their debut, you can tell if they are truly ready and just how big of a star they are going to be. Trbojevic was born to play rugby league. Gifted with a natural talent and ability to play the game and incredible speed, he had one of the best debuts in the modern era when he scored two tries for Manly, despite their loss. He will without a doubt, be one of the players to watch as the years go by.
6. Blake Austin – Keen to make as big of an impact as possible in the halves for his new club, the Raiders, Austin is living up to that billing, with another quality display at 5/8. Guided by the steady hand of halves partner Sam Williams, Austin continues to produce stellar performances for the green machine and is without a doubt one of the buys of the season. He will only get better as well, which is a scary thing for opposition teams.
7. Johnathan Thurston – Plain and simple, when the game is on the line or when you need someone to step up, JT is your man. Winning the game at the death last week against the Storm and blowing the Panthers off the park with an array of smart and astute attacking options last night, JT continues to show why he is one of the best players in the game. When he truly finds his feet and attacking mojo, other teams had better watch out.
8. George Burgess – By his own standards and by that of fans, 2015 has been an up and down year for Burgess form wise but he had what many believe was his best game of the season this past week. His impact and running style are well-known and it paid dividends, as he bent the line and kept the Dogs forward pack on their toes. The Englishman will want to keep that consistency up, as he and his brother look to step up in the absence of older brother Sam.
9. Josh Hodgson – Some Englishmen come to the NRL and succeed straight away/over time, whilst others often struggle to truly make an impact. Hodgson is making an impact from the get-go and shaping up as one of the most important players in the Raiders line-up. He can kick out of dummy half, provide nifty passes that lead to attacking opportunities and he has the awareness to be able to know when to run or pass. That awareness was crucial from his perspective in the Raiders win last weekend.
10. Mitch Dodds – The Broncos side is full of big-name forwards that have been around for years and with numerous representative honours, both state and international. Thus, the efforts of Mitch Dodds can often go unnoticed as a result. He was firing on all cylinders last week and overshadowed some of his veteran forwards with a vintage forward-like display. He ran hard, hit hard and was rewarded for some of his quality play, scoring a rare double.
11. Jack Bird – When a young player is talent, it can be seen from a mile away. After biding his time at the Dragons and then at the Sharks for a few rounds, Bird showed why he will be one of the next stars in the NRL. Putting in a scintillating performance, Bird was simply far too good. The opposition had no answers for his crafty play across the board and his performance was an emphatic one that saw him score two tries and cause havoc for the opposition.
12. Ethan Lowe – Much like Mitchell Dodds above, when you think of the Cowboys pack, Ethan Lowe is not a name that immediately springs to mind. With other veterans and representative forwards, his tremendous work-rate and involvement can often go unnoticed but he is the unsung hero of the Cowboys forward pack. His line-running is top notch, he defends prodigiously and he is a player that has heart and determination, and it shows when he plays.
13. Elijah Taylor – They say that defence is crucial and that it wins games and whilst that did not happen for the Panthers, Taylor put in a monumental defensive effort. He might not be an elite back-rower and he might not have the attacking arsenal of some others but he works and works, until he cannot do so anymore. Even then, he keeps plugging along, showing grit and determination to succeed as a player. He is the defensive backbone of the Panthers back-row and of their side in general.
14. Josh Reynolds – He can be erratic and a bit of a loose cannon at times but there is no doubting the natural ability that Reynolds has to play the game. A nuggety-type of player and a versatile one, he came off the bench for the Dogs and gave them spark and go-forward that was missing previously. His return will boost the Dogs who might have injury and suspension concerns to worry about, and they will hope that the live-wire Reynolds can help spark their attack once more.
15. Sebastine Ikahihifo – Taking opportunities when they are given to you is something all NRL players want to do and for Ikahihifo, who has often been in and out of the Warriors side, he capitalised. Once again, he is not instantly recognised among the Warriors forward pack but he does work hard and play hard to better himself and his game. His good form continues to be rewarded as he gets better and better every week.
16. Tim Glasby – One of the surprise packets as a forward not only for the Storm but across the NRL has been Tim Glasby. Coming off the bench at the Storm, his carries and work-rate have been phenomenal and he has laid the platform and set the framework for what the rest of the bench can do. When the starting forwards get a rest, he continues their solid work and thus makes it hard for opposition teams to gain an ascendancy.
17. Tim Simona – Whilst a knee injury last year may have slowed him down slightly, the ability to play rugby league has not left Tim Simona. He burst onto the scene with an array of attacking opportunities and long-range tries and he is slowing getting back to that sort of level and benchmark. His work as a centre and his deceptive footwork at the line is perhaps one of his biggest assets, and as he continues to get his range of motion back after the injury, he will also get even better.
Player of the Week: Jack Bird.