Every week of the Intrust Super Premiership, NSWRL.com.au picks the best-performers of the previous round. With the six games split across Rounds 7 and 8, here’s who impressed us the most over the past fortnight.
1 – Justin Hunt (Wests Tigers)
The swap between Hunt and former fullback Watson Heleta proved a worthwhile one in the Tigers’ demolition of the Magpies at Ringrose Park on Sunday – the new custodian ran a huge 26 times for 247 metres in a dominant performance. With two offloads, two line-break assists and seven tackle busts to suit, Hunt looked to inject himself into the Tigers’ attack at every opportunity. He is one of many Tigers putting their hand up for first grade spots, which might be up for grabs following the NRL side’s Round 8 thrashing.
2 – Josh Addo-Carr (Wests Tigers, third appearance)
Addo-Carr had enjoyed an impressive opening six matches in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW this year, rightfully earning an NRL debut in Round 7. The known speedster scored a try in that match and turned more than a few heads with a good all-round performance, leading many to question why he was overlooked last weekend. Addo-Carr responded perfectly on Sunday, however, with a first-half hat-trick and an exciting try assist to set up the Tigers’ 40-18 scoreline. It should be a reasonably safe bet that Addo-Carr will get a second crack at the top grade sooner rather than later.
3 – Brayden Wiliame (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, second appearance)
Wiliame earned his first Team Of The Week selection through a four-try demolition of the Roos in Round 6 and he followed it up a week later with another two against competition favourites Mounties. As the Mount Pritchard side appeared to shut up shop midway through the second half, Wiliame was one player who refused to give up, breaking six tackles, crossing twice in quick succession and setting one up as the Sea Eagles mounted a spirited fightback. Despite a well-known and unfortunate NRL record, his tryscoring form was hard to overlook and Wiliame gets another crack at first grade in Round 8.
4 – Michael Chee Kam (Wests Tigers)
Chee Kam, along with Addo-Carr, was a significant reason for the Tigers’ dominant display; the usual second-rower was in fine form with an early four-pointer and the Tigers never looked back. The 24-year-old then set up Addo-Carr, before the winger returned the favour, resulting in a double for Chee Kam and a potent attacking combination. Chee Kam was hard to contain, also breaking seven tackles in the big win.
5 – James Tuitahi (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Mostly on the opposite side to Wiliame, Tuitahi was a force to be reckoned with for the Sea Eagles and also bagged a double as the visitors fell just short. His 193 metres were, unsurprisingly, the most of that game, which came through a line-break and a number of half-breaks as the Mounties defence began to tire – but Tuitahi’s game could best be remembered for an incredible try-saving effort on Mounties fullback Zac Santo.
6 – Fa’amanu Brown (Newtown Jets, second appearance)
An incredible first-half performance against the Cutters earns Brown the number six jersey in the Team Of The Week – but having come from the field midway through the second stanza, the Jets playmaker narrowly misses out on the captaincy. Brown started at halfback and played much of his 58 minutes at dummy-half, but the switch didn’t hinder his attacking prowess; he set up Travis Robinson for the side’s first, before scoring the next two himself in the space of seven minutes. Also with eight tackle breaks, it’s little wonder that Illawarra regained control to win soon after Brown’s day ended.
7 – Josh Drinkwater (Wests Tigers, second appearance, captain)
Drinkwater has been playing well for the Tigers all year and has been unlucky to only make the Team Of The Week twice, but his form was clear for all to see in Round 8. While the halfback is officially awarded three try assists, he was involved in five of the side’s seven four-pointers – including one he scored himself in the first half. Finally, Drinkwater kicked six goals from seven attempts to ensure his side’s final scoreline accurately reflected their dominance over Wentworthville.
8 – Zane Tetevano (Wyong Roos, fifth appearance)
The Wyong prop makes his fifth consecutive Team Of The Week with a typically busy 80-minute performance, running 21 times for a huge 213 metres. While the Roosters’ forwards stocks are due for a boost with players returning from injury, Tetevano’s recent form must at least have him a handy back-up for coach Trent Robinson.
9 – Hugh Pratt (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, third appearance)
Despite the points only coming for Manly in the final 25 minutes against Mounties, the visitors played hard for 80 minutes – and their hooker was a large part of that. Pratt made 50 tackles on the day, which is the most of Rounds 7 and 8, also kick-starting the Sea Eagles’ late flurry of points with a perfectly-timed grubber to Wiliame in goal.
10 – Albert Vete (New Zealand Warriors, second appearance)
Along with Tetevano, Vete was one of the only two forwards in Rounds 7 and 8 to reach a double century of running metres. The Warriors prop ran 200 metres exactly, busted three tackles, came up with two offloads and made 33 tackles, putting in the hard yards to help deliver his side a valuable home victory.
11 – Jarrad Kennedy (Mounties, fourth appearance)
For the second time this season, Kennedy was named our Man Of The Round in Round 7 after a strong performance against the Sea Eagles. The 27-year-old was deserving of his two tries – both coming off good support play – and he also topped the team’s tackle count with 33. Kennedy is a significant reason Mounties remain the competition favourites.
12 – Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
In just his second appearance for the Bulldogs, Faitala-Mariner impressed many and displayed his first grade credentials on Saturday. The second-rower ran for a game-high 166 metres in Canterbury-Bankstown’s heartbreaking one-point defeat, also breaking into space in the second half to set up Dane Chisholm under the posts. His five offloads also provided continuous energy – something the Bulldogs had lacked late in games.
13 – Cheyne Whitelaw (North Sydney Bears)
Whitelaw had not previously made a Team Of The Week, but was outstanding in the Bears’ win over the Bulldogs to be named our Man Of The Round in Round 8. The lock forward ran 20 times for 139 metres and muscled up for a huge 47 tackles, which was imperative in the wet conditions at ANZ Stadium.
14 – Samisoni Langi (North Sydney Bears)
Langi played his first game of the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW season against the Bulldogs on Saturday, with a stellar performance to help the side to victory. The utility was an ideal replacement for injured halfback Eli Levido in the first half, setting up a try and scoring one himself as North Sydney edged out Canterbury-Bankstown.
15 – Dylan Kelly (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Kelly was electric for the Sea Eagles, constantly providing options in attack and muscling up in defence. The second-rower made 150 metres with the ball in hand, courtesy of three tackle breaks and a line-break, while his four offloads helped provide three line-break assists and a try assist. The huge numbers have Kelly unlucky not to make the starting side in the Team Of The Week; his 28 tackles show he was valuable without the ball as well.
16 – Chris Smith (Wyong Roos)
Smith earned himself a starting second row position as a late inclusion before the Roos’ Round 7 clash – before his 157 metres from 12 runs earned him a maiden selection in our top 17. A few very hard runs and 22 tackles has the Darwin-raised second-rower on our radar in 2016.
17 – Jai Ingram (Wyong Roos, third appearance)
Smith formed just one part of Wyong’s menacing back row against the Panthers, with Ingram just as impressive in the dreary conditions at Morry Breen Oval. In Ingram’s 17 runs he made 147 metres and busted five tackles, eventually bringing the second-rower a try to put the result beyond doubt. Despite only making 19 tackles, his hard-hitting was felt from the sidelines in the Roos’ impressive victory.
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