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VB Blues Team Of The Week | Round 2 staff writers

TURBO TEARS UP: 305 metres, two line-breaks, a try-assist and a try well and truly land Tom Trbojevic in the Round 2 Team of the Week.
TURBO TEARS UP: 305 metres, two line-breaks, a try-assist and a try well and truly land Tom Trbojevic in the Round 2 Team of the Week.

Each week of the NRL season, the staff writers will have their say on the round's best performing New South Welshmen. These are based entirely on the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSWRL or the State of Origin selection process.

1 - Tom Trbojevic
Club: Manly Sea Eagles; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

305 total metres, seven tackle-busts, two line-breaks, one try-assist, one try.
In a losing side, Trbojevic was a clear highlight as he registered a monumental metre count - the largest since Josh Dugan's 312-metre effort in Round 6, 2016. The 20-year-old's first line-break came in just the 13th minute, finishing in a try as Manly looked like tearing South Sydney to shreds, before magical chemistry with brother Jake resulted in another in the second half. The Trbojevics were well and truly the Sea Eagles' best as they ran out of steam against the Rabbitohs.

2 - Nathan Ross
Club: Newcastle Knights; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Two tries; two line-breaks; 145 total metres.
Many were disappointed when Ross, a cult figure at Newcastle, was narrowly denied a selection in the Round 1 Team of the Week despite a classy double against the Warriors. The 28-year-old repeated the feat this weekend against the Titans, however, and there was no denying him this time. In addition to his status as one of the game's characters, Ross can actually play football -and followed up some good late-2016 form with a blistering start to the new season. The Knights have already shown major improvements from last year and if they are to enjoy a better result this season, Ross will be a big part of that.

3 - Tyrone Peachey (c)
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

182 total metres, four line-breaks, seven tackle-busts, one try-assist.
The Wests Tigers v Panthers match-up might have been billed as a battle between classy NSW fullbacks James Tedesco and Matt Moylan, but it was Peachey who shone the most at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. With immortal Andrew Johns and his Panthers teammates already building up his State of Origin chances, Peachey showed that he can cope with the expectation as he propelled Penrith to a dominant victory.

4 - Michael Jennings
Club: Parramatta Eels; Origin Appearances: 18; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Two try-assists, 19 tackles
The Michael Jennings-Semi Radradra left side combination is one of the most destructive on paper, and they certainly proved that tonight against the Dragons. Jennings was at his threatening best, putting two tries on a platter for Radradra, and was seemingly untouchable in the first half. The incumbent VB Blues centre also worked hard in defence, making 19 tackles. 

5 - Daniel Tupou
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin Appearances: 4; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Two tries, 97 total metres
Thanks to his 196-centimetre frame, Daniel Tupou is one of the most dangerous players in the air, and the Canterbury Bulldogs were on the receiving end of an aerial assault on Thursday night. He finished off a wonderful passage of play for his first try by pouncing on a grubber, but it was his second that had everyone talking. Luke Keary put a cross-field kick in that would be considered too deep for the average winger, but not for Daniel Tupou, as he unconventionally plucked the ball out of the air in an awkward position to score a scintillating try.

6 - Cody Walker
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Three line-breaks, two try-assists, one try
Cody Walker, who was born in Nowra, grew up in Casino and attended high school on the Gold Coast, is eligible for NSW - a fact which many VB Blues supporters will be happy with after his display on Saturday afternoon. The 27-year-old was the engineer behind South Sydney's come-from-behind victory, setting up two tries, scoring one and regularly earning repeat sets to build pressure for his slow-starting side. Alongside the returning Adam Reynolds, Walker gave Rabbitohs fans hope that all is not lost for 2017, a week after the club was rocked by a long-term injury to captain Greg Inglis.

7 - Nathan Cleary
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin Appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

One try, one line-break-assist, three tackle-breaks
The two youngest halves pairings in the NRL came together this afternoon, and it was Cleary and Te Maire Martin who completely dominated their Wests Tigers counterparts. Cleary organised the game well beyond his years, set up a line-break, and scored a try in a game where he shouldered a ton of responsibility in a week of drama for the Panthers.

8 - Andrew Fifita
Club: Cronulla Sharks; Origin appearances: 7; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

187 total metres, 14 tackles, two offloads, five tackle-breaks.
Andrew Fifita earns another selection in the team of the week thanks to a typically rampaging performance in the nation's capital. Coming close to replicating his standout game against the Raiders in Week 1 of the 2016 finals series, Fifita was hard to handle as the Sharks ran away with a dominant 42-16 victory in the second half. Never one to shy away from a confrontation with the opposition and their fans, the 27-year-old had this to say shortly after the big win:

9 - Robbie Farah
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs; Origin appearances: 16; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

20 tackles, two try-assists, one try.
Robbie Farah or Damien Cook? Why not both? The two hookers complemented each other beautifully at Lottoland on the weekend, with Farah setting the platform for his side to claw back into the game when Manly were up 12-0 after 12 minutes. His second stint began mid-way through the second half, and within eight minutes, he had set up two tries and scored one himself to win the game for South Sydney. Farah certainly looked at home in red and green, and if he keeps up performances like that this year, it would be hard to imagine anyone else in the sky-blue No.9 jersey.

10 - Ryan James
Club: Gold Coast Titans; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

17 total runs, 149 total metres, 39 tackles.
After making several Teams of the Week in 2016, Ryan James finds himself back in the mix this year with a good showing against the Knights. While the fell victim to the fired-up Newcastle side on an emotional day at McDonald Jones Stadium, the Gold Coast co-captain did his share in the middle and gave his side a fighting chance.

11 - Boyd Cordner
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin appearances: 6; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

One try, one line-break, 135 total metres, 35 tackles.
Boyd Cordner showed why he is one of the most reliable players in the competition on Thursday night, once again shining brightly against the Canterbury Bulldogs. He is arguably the best hole-runner in the NRL, and was perfectly positioned aside Luke Keary to collect a pass for yet another four-pointer. While Cordner is a dangerous asset with the ball in hand, he still possesses the traits of a workhorse, running for 135 metres and making 35 tackles.  

12 - Wade Graham
Club: Cronulla Sharks; Origin appearances: 1; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

126 total metres, 21 tackles, six tackle-busts, three line-breaks, one try-assist, three tries.
A superb all-round performance from Wade Graham was a big part of the Sharks' second-half demolition job of the Raiders on Saturday night, also earning him a second Team of the Week selection. Scoring twice off good service from James Maloney and once from an unexpected dive from dummy-half, Graham also set up prop Matt Prior late in the game to have an involvement in the majority of Cronulla's tries. A very pleasing game for NSW VB Blues fans happy with the state's second-row depth.

13 - Trent Merrin
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin Appearances: 13; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

157 total metres, 37 tackles, 2 offloads.
Trent Merrin was part of the side that were completely dominated in the middle of the field last week against the St George Illawarra Dragons, and took it upon himself to not let that happen again. One of the hardest working forwards in the game, Merrin quite remarkably amassed 157 metres and 37 tackles in only 58 minutes. The only way to limit Trent Merrin’s involvement is to take him off the field altogether, as he showed today against the Wests Tigers.
NOTE: As the VB Blues Team of the Week is comprised wholly of players currently aiming to play for the VB Blues, Paul Gallen was not considered.


14 - Matt Moylan
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin Appearances: 3; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

One try-assist, three line-break-assists, 139 total metres.
After a week the Penrith Panthers would like to forget, their captain stood up when it mattered. Coming into the game against a red-hot Wests Tigers outfit, and directly up against the best player from Round 1, James Tedesco, Moylan and the Panthers were under all sorts of pressure to perform away from home. He proved to be a constant threat with the ball in hand, setting up a try and putting three teammates in space, as well as muscling up with 10 tackles despite playing at fullback. 

15 - Jake Trbojevic
Club: Manly Sea Eagles; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

108 total metres, 43 tackles, one line-break-assist.
Renowned as a technically sound defender, Trbojevic once again topped the tackle count at Lottoland - and along with his aforementioned brother he was among the Sea Eagles' best. His only offload of the game resulted in a line-break for brother Tom and eventually a Daly Cherry-Evans try, leaving little doubt that the pair are vital to the successes of the Manly side.

16 - Ryan Matterson
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin Appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

11 runs, 144 total metres, one line-break
A quick look at the Sydney Roosters bench and it could be assumed that Connor Watson is the impact player out of the lot, but this was certainly not the case on Thursday night against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Ryan Matterson only played 46 minutes over two on-field stints, amassing 144 metres in that time, averaging more than 13 metres per run that included a line-break. As he came off the field from his first stint, he received a warm, appreciative applause from the home crowd who recognised his efforts.

17 - James Tamou
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin Appearances: 14;
 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Four tackle-busts, 142 total metres, 28 tackles.
The Wests Tigers forwards dominated South Sydney’s in Round 1, while the Panthers were dominated in the same area the very next day. Therefore, it was up to new recruit James Tamou to put in a dominant performance and get the better of the Wests Tigers forwards, and that’s exactly what he did. His 142 metres and four tackle breaks allowed the ever-creative Nathan Cleary and Matt Moylan to pile on the points.