Each week in the lead-up to Origin, NSWRL.com.au pick the best-performing NSW-eligible players from the NRL. Selections are based on the previous round only.
1 – Matt Moylan (Penrith Panthers)
Moylan put forward a performance worthy of an Origin debut on Saturday afternoon, providing just the spark Penrith needed to regain the lead from the Warriors in Christchurch. The custodian twice set up Tyrone Peachey to score and put doubt into the defenders’ minds, also coming up with a line-break.
2 – Josh Mansour (Penrith Panthers, sixth appearance)
While the fullback was responsible for two of Peachey’s four-pointers, Mansour set up the other in a typical 120-metre game. The KARI City Origin star now has one last chance to convince Laurie Daley he should be picked for Origin I – next Sunday against the Titans.
3 – Josh Morris (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, fourth appearance)
The 13-time VB Blues centre earns a fourth appearance in the Team Of The Week following a rampant game on the Bulldogs’ left edge. As all five of the blue-and-whites’ outside backs had good showings in the absence of Will Hopoate, Morris continued to combine well with Curtis Rona, who bagged a double. The 29-year-old scored a try himself and ran 130 metres in the win.
4 – Jack Bird (Cronulla Sharks, fourth appearance)
A try assist, 121 metres and 21 tackles gives Bird his fourth selection in the Team Of The Week and is encouraging to those who want to see him make an Origin debut. The centre was dangerous every time the ball came his way as the Sharks outside backs ran rampant.
5 – Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra Dragons, second appearance)
Aitken was the hero in the Dragons’ golden-point thriller in Kogarah and while he was outstanding in the centres for the Red V, he finds himself on the wing in his second Team Of The Week appearance. A tally of 160 metres and 29 tackles was exceptional for the 20-year-old, in addition to his match-winning try five minutes into extra time.
6 – James Maloney (Cronulla Sharks, fourth appearance)
When a side featuring two NSW-eligible halves wins 62 points to nil, it’s safe to assume that one of the playmakers will find a place in the Team Of The Week. While Townsend was, like the entire Sharks team, fantastic, Maloney was at another level in Sunday afternoon’s demolition at Hunter Stadium. The three-time VB Blues representative was awarded his two try assists in the game’s dying stages, but had the ball on a string for 80 minutes, made the most of a dominant forward pack and also kicked nine of his 11 shots at goal.
7 – Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs, second appearance)
While not officially awarded any try assists, Adam Reynolds played outstandingly in the Rabbitohs’ come-from-behind win over the Eels. The halfback had a hand in two of South Sydney’s four tries and was successful in building pressure at key moments – and when all the pressure was heaped on him in the 80th minute, he shrugged it off to kick the match-winning conversion from out wide.
8 – Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers, sixth appearance)
Despite being outclassed on Sunday afternoon, the Wests Tigers skipper made a successful return from an ankle injury to put a smile on the face of VB Blues coach Laurie Daley. Woods was relegated to the bench in the lead-up to the Tigers’ clash with the Bulldogs, but still played 48 minutes which included 35 tackles and 143 metres. In attack, Woods was largely responsible for the Tigers’ only points of the game, with a nice touch finding his inside man Mitchell Moses to score.
9 – Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers)
It was fitting that Peachey, hailing from such a famous Indigenous Rugby League family, came up with a hat-trick in the NRL’s Indigenous Round this weekend. In a side boasting James Segeyaro, the 24-year-old played the majority of the game at hooker after the regular dummy-half was concussed. It was Peachey’s constant will to attack on the edges, however, that resulted in his three match-sealing tries.
10 – David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, fourth appearance)
Klemmer was named at lock for the Blue-and-whites on Sunday, but returned to his more familiar position of prop when starter Aiden Tolman’s stint ended – and did so in spectacular fashion. It was 22 typically determined runs that delivered Klemmer a game-high 215 metres which the Bulldogs backs played well off the back of.
11 – Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Frizell was named Best On Ground in the Dragons’ thrilling Thursday night win at UOW Jubilee Oval. The 2016 Country Origin representative went hard in all 16 of his runs – one of which brought the first try of the game. With 168 metres and 25 tackles, Frizell remains a genuine chance for an Origin debut.
12 – Wade Graham (Cronulla Sharks, second appearance, captain)
It’s difficult to single out any player from such a dominant victory, but we’ve judged Graham the best in an incredible Cronulla side. The team ran almost twice as far upfield as the struggling Knights, which included 554 from the starting second row alone – and 234 from Graham. Throw in a late try for the Blacktown junior – his first of the year – and it’s a game worthy of the captaincy this week.
13 – Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks, fifth appearance)
It’s no secret that the VB Blues and Cronulla Sharks skipper is in magical form at the moment, which had earned him three straight Team Of The Week performances and a Man Of The Match award in last week’s Test against the Kiwis. Despite his minutes being reduced to just 51 in the runaway win, he now makes it four straight selections thanks to 151 metres, 19 tackles and a classy inside ball to set up Valentine Holmes in the first half.
14 – Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, fourth appearance)
The Bulldogs five-eighth was at his energetic best in his side’s classy showing at ANZ Stadium, running 102 metres via three line-breaks. Reynolds came up with a try assist and a four-pointer himself as the Bulldogs ran away 36-4 winners – a strong effort given how he must’ve been feeling after a terrible accident sent Robbie Farah from the field.
15 – Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks, eighth appearance)
Fifita continues to impress and has now appeared in the Team Of The Week more times than anyone else. The growingly-consistent prop was impossible to handle in attack – his game-high eight tackle breaks are evidence – while two offloads and a line-break assist helped create the Sharks’ equal-biggest win in their history.
16 – Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans, fourth appearance)
The Titans prop was a force to be reckoned with all night in the home side’s big upset over the Roosters, running a game-high 161 metres and making 32 tackles. With his fourth Team Of The Week-worthy performance, James remains a consideration for the State of Origin I team to be named next Monday.
17 – Luke Lewis (Cronulla Sharks, second appearance)
Lewis is the sixth Cronulla player to make the Team Of The Week after a standout performance in Newcastle. The two-time State of Origin series winner first made himself noticed by toeing a ball into the in-goal for Holmes to dive on for the opening try, before scoring two himself in the second half. A tally of 170 metres and 28 tackles were key to a brilliant 80-minute performance.
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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the NSWRL.