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VB Blues Team Of The Week | Round 3

NSWRL.com.au staff writers

NEW COLOURS: Jamie Buhrer is adjusting well to life at the Newcastle Knights, earning his first Team of the Week selection in Round 3.
NEW COLOURS: Jamie Buhrer is adjusting well to life at the Newcastle Knights, earning his first Team of the Week selection in Round 3.

Each week of the NRL season, the NSWRL.com.au 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 - Michael Gordon
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin appearances: 1; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Two tries, one line-break, 120 total metres
Michael Gordon turned the clock back on a ground he tore up during the first half of his career, scoring two tries in the Roosters' tight victory over Penrith. He hit a hole at serious pace to open the scoring for the tri-colours, before showing off his soccer skills for his second, when he skilfully toed the ball forward to score the match-winning try. In a game where points were hard to come by, Gordon scored 10 of the Roosters’ 14. 

2 - Brett Morris
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; Origin appearances: 12; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

113 total metres, two line-breaks, five tackle-breaks, two tries.
Facing the prospect of their seventh consecutive loss amidst a minor outside back injury crisis, the Bulldogs turned to some of their most experienced to help deliver their Round 3 win in Dunedin. Brett Morris was very solid for the Canterbury side, playing on the opposite edge to brother Josh, who was also impressive in the Bulldogs' new-look back line. Scoring a brace of tries in the 24-12 victory, Morris reiterated that he is vitally important to the Bulldogs.

3 – Euan Aitken
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

99 total metres, two tries.
Euan Aitken had spiders on him in the first half against the Cronulla Sharks, constantly slipping out of tackles and bagging an early double. The first try came when he won the race to a classy Cameron McInnes grubber from dummy half, with the second against the run of play. He also broke six tackles, causing headaches to whoever was in his path all night. He and Latrell Mitchell narrowly beat Tyrone Peachey and Jarrod Croker for the spots, highlighting how well the centres played over the weekend. 

4 - Latrell Mitchell
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

One try, one line-break, 126 total metres
We’ve seen glimpses of the potential that Latrell Mitchell possesses since he debuted in Round 1 last year, and has proven that the shift to left centre in 2017 is at no detriment to his form and involvement. He backed up Mitchell Pearce to score a vital try, and was also heavily involved in the lead-up play for the last try. Albeit, the NRL came out today and confirmed Mitchell’s pass was forward in this situation, but according to the score-sheet he set up the final try, which won the Roosters the game.

5 - Josh Addo-Carr
Club: Melbourne Storm; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

17 total runs, 149 total metres, six tackle-breaks, one try.
Addo-Carr has been close to making the previous two Teams of the Weeks, but an inability to cross the stripe in two wet-weather games had hindered his chances. On a much drier surface in Melbourne, however, Addo-Carr proved his worth with the game-winning try and edged out fellow NRL speedser James Roberts, who also scored. The former Tiger appears to be among the game's best at breaking tackles with speed alone; his late explosiveness at the line will be sure to bring more points for the Storm throughout 2017.

6 - Cody Walker (c)
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

Two try-assists, one line-break-assist, three tackle-breaks
Whenever Cody Walker touches the ball, spectators hold their breath. Whenever he is buzzing around the play, he is a constant threat, and that was no different at McDonald Jones stadium on the weekend. He took the ball to the line and threw a brilliant short-pass to John Sutton, who ran a good line and crashed over for a try, before putting in a pre-planned grubber for Bryson Goodwin to score early in the second half. 

7 - Mitchell Pearce
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin appearances: 15; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

Two try-assists, two line-break-assists, five tackle-breaks
Both Adam Reynolds and Aidan Sezer were incredible with the No.7 on their back this week, but Mitchell Pearce secures the halfback spot in the team of the week for his instrumental performance against the Penrith Panthers. He laid on the opening try for Michael Gordon, before beating various defenders on a left-edge raid that led to Latrell Mitchell’s try in the first half. He broke five tackles, and controlled the game beautifully, ensuring the Roosters head into Round 4 with three wins under their belt.

8 - Paul Vaughan
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

206 total metres, 30 tackles, one line-break.
Vaughan follows up his Round 1 Team of the Week selection with another huge showing, which coincides with another Dragons victory. Running further than any other forward in the third week of competition and still making 30 tackles, the former Raider is proving to be one of the NRL's best signings early in season 2017.

9 - Cameron McInnes
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

58 tackles, one try-assist.
If there was any doubt about McInnes' ability previously, it's certainly gone after a blistering start to season 2017. The Dragons hooker gets his second Team of the Week selection thanks to another big showing with and without the ball; a nice grubber from dummy-half for Euan Aitken to score was his first piece of brilliance, drawing comparisons to former Sharks no.9 Michael Ennis. McInnes also stood up in defence with 34 first-half tackles and 58 overall - the second-most of any player this weekend.

10 - Junior Paulo
Club: Canberra Raiders; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

111 total metres, one try-assist, one line-break, one offload, 18 tackles, three tackle-breaks.
The Raiders ran 508 metres further than the Tigers in the Nation's capital, resulting in a 46-6 victory, and Paulo was a major part of that, contributing 111 metres of his own. A barnstorming run which knocked Luke Brooks off his feet late in the game was also promising for those backing Paulo for VB Blues selection, with Elliott Whitehead scoring off that opportunity. 

11 - Boyd Cordner
Club: Sydney Roosters; Origin appearances: 6; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

156 total metres, 29 tackles, two tackle-breaks.
A second-straight Team of the Week selection is well deserved by Cordner, who has been a big part of the Roosters' undefeated run in the opening three rounds. In a hard-fought victory at Pepper stadium, the Origin mainstay was solid, making up for two errors and a penalty conceded.

12 - Jamie Buhrer
Club: Newcastle Knights; Origin appearances: 1; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

One try-assist; 43 tackles; one line-break
Despite the result, the Newcastle Knights were brave against South Sydney, with Jamie Buhrer putting in an inspiring performance for the home side. He ran for just under 100 metres that included a line-break, but it was his defence that stood out, completing 43 tackles for the afternoon. To add to his efforts, Buhrer also recorded his first try-assist of the year.

13 - Trent Merrin
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin appearances: 13; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

154 total metres; 44 tackles
His side was on the wrong end of the score-line, but Trent Merrin put in a mountain of work yet again for the Penrith Panthers over the weekend. He played for longer than usual against the Roosters, only sitting on the bench for four minutes for the duration. He ran for 154 metres with two tackle breaks and clocked up 44 tackles; impressive numbers that could see him return to the Origin arena sometime in 2017.

INTERCHANGE

14 - Aidan Sezer
Club: Canberra Raiders; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

Two try-assists, one offload, four tackle-breaks.
With several good performances from NSW-eligible halves this weekend - South Sydney's Adam Reynolds, Newcastle's Trent Hodkinson and Canberra's Blake Austin also deserve honourable mentions - it's Sezer who takes the bench utility spot in Round 3. The 25-year-old set up two tries and looked dynamic for the majority of the Raiders' match with the Tigers, with the results reflected in the lop-sided score line.

15 - David Klemmer
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; Origin appearances: 6; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.

20 total runs, 201 total metres, 20 tackles, one tackle-break.
The experienced NSW VB Blues bench prop, who was shifted to the Bulldogs' lock position midway through last season, has taken on slightly more minutes so far in 2017 and has adjusted well. Posting the second-biggest metre tally of all forwards in Round 3, Klemmer provided the energy expected of and required from him in Bulldogs colours.

16 - Mitch Barnett
Club: Newcastle Knights; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

42 tackles; 74 total metres
What a signing Mitch Barnett has been for the Newcastle Knights. He has further improved in season 2017, having put in three solid performances in a row, and earned a position in the VB Blues team of the week twice. Barnett stood toe-to-toe with George Burgess, and somehow got under his skin that aggravated the big Englishmen to throw an elbow and a punch, which got him sin binned. In the second-half, he rag-dolled Alex Johnson to force a dropout Gorden Tallis-style, and also made 42 tackles in his sides defeat to South Sydney.

17 - Jake Trbojevic
Club: Manly Sea Eagles; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.

100 total metres, 42 tackles.
For the third week in a row, Trbojevic was among the Sea Eagles' best and for the third week in a row, he makes the Team of the Week - but for the first time this year also enjoyed an NRL win. Few people would have tipped any Manly victory in Townsville, let alone a 22-point winning margin, but their lock forward's involvement was easy to predict. His 42 tackles were more than anyone else on the field and his 136 for the year is the third-most behind Andrew McCullough and Jake Friend.

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