VB Blues' Team Of The Week Round 1
Each week in the lead-up to Origin, NSWRL.com.au pick the best-performing NSW-eligible players from the NRL. These are based on the previous round only and don't reflect the official State of Origin selection process.
1 – James Tedesco (Wests Tigers)
Many have Tedesco as a certainty for the VB Blues’ custodian role this year and while he’s not without competition, he was the NRL’s best fullback in Round 1. Fantastic support play earned him two tries as he bamboozled the Warriors’ defence at times.
2 – Jorge Taufua (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
In a badly beaten side, Jorge Taufua was solid and managed to score the Sea Eagles' only try of the match. A spectacular put-down just centimetres from the sideline brought up Manly’s first points at Brookvale, while he also ran for more than 150 metres.
3 – Josh Morris (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
After losing twin brother Brett for an extended period, Josh Morris picked up the slack in the Bulldogs’ convincing win over the Sea Eagles. Solid in defence as usual, but his biggest achievement was notching up his 100th career try – with the Morrises the first set of twins to both reach the milestone in Rugby League history.
4 – Jack Bird (Cronulla Sharks)
Few people gave the Sharks a chance against the defending premiers in Townsville and questions remained about how their abundance of fullback talent would be spread across the park. Bird showed his abilities at centre, moving Cronulla 150 metres downfield and scoring a try to bring his side within two points of the Cowboys.
5 – Anthony Don (Gold Coast Titans)
Bringing up 30 career tries for the Titans, Don scored two more in the side’s win over the Knights, including a fine effort to chase down a grubber and beat three defenders for his second. It was a good effort in wet conditions on the Gold Coast.
6 – Mitch Moses (Wests Tigers)
The Wests Tigers’ win over the Warriors was perhaps Moses’ best performance of his 35 first grade games. The Carlingford junior took control of the side without regular halves partner Luke Brooks, but also worked hard in defence – he made 20 tackles as an obvious target for the Warriors’ pack.
7 – Aidan Sezer (Canberra Raiders)
In his club debut, Sezer was outstanding at GIO Stadium – he took advantage of the sweltering conditions and scored two tries himself. Unfortunately, the former Titans half broke his eye socket in the process and will likely miss at least a month of football.
8 – Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
Woods was outstanding in laying the platform for the likes of Tedesco, Moses and Kevin Naiqama on Saturday afternoon, as the Tigers ran rampant over the Warriors in the first half. Along with his 32 tackles, Woods ran for 213 metres – second behind only James Graham for all Round 1 games.
9 – Nathan Peats (Captain, Parramatta Eels)
In a bruised and beaten team, it’s hard to look past this workhorse hooker as an obvious highlight. The 25-year-old notched up 60 tackles in the Parramatta Eels’ loss to the Brisbane Broncos – the highest tally for Round 1. After injury prevented him from replacing Robbie Farah in the Blues’ no.9 jumper last year, Peats has already put his best foot forward should the situation arise again.
10 – Aiden Tolman (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Questions surrounding the Bulldogs forward pack in the wake of the reduction of interchange were put to bed on Friday night as Tolman and fellow prop James Graham dominated the Sea Eagles. Somewhat overshadowed by Graham, Tolman himself made 44 tackles and made 189 metres.
11 – Shaun Fensom (Canberra Raiders)
Fensom always appears to have a cult following when State of Origin selections are discussed and is one of the competition’s best workhorses. The sight of him in space against the Panthers, however, was something to behold as he scored his second try in his last three NRL games.
12 – Curtis Sironen (Wests Tigers)
Son of a gun Curtis Sironen is a somewhat unexpected addition to our Round 1 Team Of The Week with 39 tackles and a try from his 71 minutes. The second-rower’s rampaging run to score the Wests Tigers’ first points of 2016 was reminiscent of father and VB Blues legend Paul – he may just fit the mould of the ideal second-rower in a game with reduced interchanges.
13 – Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans)
The VB Blues hardman was on fire in his side’s Round 1 victory, essentially playing as a third half despite being named at lock. Bird, who has played three of his 16 Origin games at five-eighth, laid on two tries to go with his 25 tackles and 158 metres. It was a good all-round performance from an obvious leader at the Titans.
14 – Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
As the Rabbitohs demolished arch rivals the Roosters at Allianz Stadium, Adam Reynolds put on an exceptional 58-minute display to set up two tries from a pinpoint kicking game. The half also earned his side numerous repeat sets to starve the Roosters of ball early, before a second-half head clash with Kane Evans broke his jaw and ruled him out for another six weeks.
15 – Jake Trbojevic (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Along with Taufua, Trbojevic was solid in a losing outfit at Brookvale Oval. Manly’s 2015 Best and Fairest is known as an old-school defender and made another 39 tackles on Friday night, for zero misses. He also ran for 180 metres, narrowly losing out to brother Tom for the most go-forward in the team.
16 – Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
It was a typical Andrew Fifita performance on Saturday night, the big prop ran 149 metres, made a line break and 42 tackles – second only to hooker Michael Ennis – in his 49 minutes on the field. It was valuable go-forward as the Sharks fell agonisingly close to a massive Round 1 upset.
17 – Wade Graham (Cronulla Sharks)
Like Fifita, Graham was consistent with his usual self and made 39 tackles throughout the game for 100 metres. A typical 80-minute performance from the 25-year-old.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the NSWRL.