Each week, the NSWRL.com.au staff writers will name their 17 best performers from the weekend's Intrust Super Premiership NSW. These selections, heavily based on statistical data, are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSWRL.
1 – Connor Watson (c)
Club: Wyong Roos; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
23 total runs, 284 total metres, one try-assist, two line-breaks, four tackle-breaks, two tries.
After only a handful of games in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW last year, Watson was a shock inclusion in the Wyong side on Thursday night – and immediately proved his class. His only appearance in Roos colours so far this year brought the largest metre tally of 2017 to date, scoring two tries and setting up one to earn him the Team of the Week captaincy.
2 – Edrick Lee
Club: Newtown Jets; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
15 total runs, 222 total metres, two tackle-breaks, one try.
Lee, like Watson, is another NRL-standard player who found himself back in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW on the weekend. He was second only to Watson in metres run and was a threat on the left edge for the Jets, scoring a vital try in the come-from-behind win.
3 – Nathan Milone
Club: Wests Tigers; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
13 total runs, 109 total metres, one line-break, three tackle-breaks, one try.
Milone was solid in the centres for the Tigers, scoring one of the home side’s three tries while goal kicking unfortunately resulted in a loss to Illawarra. Despite just 13 runs he looked dangerous with the ball in hand.
4 – George Jennings
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
17 total runs, 182 total metres, one line-break, four tackle-breaks.
Jennings earns his first Team of the Week selection thanks to an imposing performance with the ball for the Magpies; it was a relatively low-scoring game, but he frequently looked the most likely to score points at points throughout the game.
5 – Kelepi Manu
Club: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
Three line-breaks, two tackle-breaks, three tries.
He scored the hat-trick which eventually would be the difference between the two sides and the Sea Eagles winger thoroughly deserves his plays in the competition’s best 17. Manu’s first two tries – also Blacktown’s opening pair – were almost identical to each other, before his third required serious skill to catch the ball behind him and plant the ball down.
6 – Jai Field
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
One line-break, 13 tackles, two tries.
The Dragons and Illawarra faithful saw exactly what Field has to offer in open-age competitions when he provided spark in attack at the NRL Auckland Nines this year – an effort repeated again on the weekend. Scoring two of the defending premiers’ three tries, Field is exceptional in broken play and earns his first Team of the Week selection.
7 – Mason Lino
Club: Warriors; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
Two try-assists, one tackle-break, 243 kick metres, 14 tackles.
Key to the Warriors’ success has been their experienced halfback, who set up another two tries in the side’s draw with Mounties on Saturday. While he’ll be disappointed not to take both competition points from the clash at Aubrey Keech, the halfback’s effort of five conversions from six attempts ultimately spared them what would have been their first loss of the season.
8 – Josh Kerr
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
13 total runs, 146 total metres, one try-assist, one line-break, four tackle-breaks 23 tackles.
Kerr has been impressive so far in 2017, with the Illawarra prop earning his second Team of the Week call-up – and first among the starting 13. His efforts in attack broke four tackles and provided a try-assist, while he was solid in defence at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
9 – Mitch Rein
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.
Two tackle-breaks, 51 tackles.
Perhaps the form player of the competition, Mitch Rein is among the league’s best yet again despite his side narrowly going down to the Jets. With more tackles than any other player in Round 7, it’s simply the large defensive effort that gets him into the team this time – his fourth selection of 2017.
10 – Sitaleki Akauola
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
14 total runs, 174 total metres, two tackle-breaks, 27 tackles.
Relegated to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW for the first time since Round 1, Akauola was among the Panthers’ best in the losing effort at Pepper Stadium. His solid attacking and defensive showing will have him hopeful of a return to NRL soon.
11 – Corey Harawira-Naera
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
11 total runs, 156 total metres, four tackle-breaks, 31 tackles, one try.
The third Panther to make the Team of the Week is another who has impressed at NRL level this year. Harawira-Naera burst onto the scene with a major influence in his three NRL games and has now scored in five of his seven games across both grades.
12 – Jamil Hopoate
Club: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
17 total runs, 167 total metres, one try-assist, two line-breaks, two tackle-breaks, one offload, 32 tackles, one try.
Hopoate was completely dominant in the Sea Eagles’ win over the Knights, defending and attacking like a player who has already spent significant time in the top grade. NRL Integrity Unit requirements have prevented that from happening so far, but in the meantime Hopoate is among the best in the Blacktown outfit.
13 – Mitch Kennedy
Club: Mounties; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
15 total runs, 148 total metres, five tackle-breaks, 34 tackles.
With 148 metres and a good effort defensively, Kennedy was the best-performing lock forward of Round 7. He played a role in what was an interesting game between Mounties and the Warriors, which included 11 line-breaks but the two smallest team metre tallies of the weekend.
14 – Cameron Cullen
Club: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
One line-break-assist, four tackle-breaks, one offload.
Cullen’s numbers don’t do justice the performance he put forward at Lottoland on Saturday; the five-eighth was central to the Sea Eagles’ victory. Now with three Team of the Week selections to his name, Cullen has been a valuable addition to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
15 – Pat Mata’utia
Club: Newcastle Knights; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
14 total runs, 156 total metres, one line-break, seven tackle-breaks, one offload, 30 tackles, one try.
The Knights came off second best to the Sea Eagles, but Mata’utia was the visitors’ best with 156 metres and 30 tackles.
16 – Cody Nelson
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
15 total runs, 149 total metres, two tackle-breaks, three offloads, 48 tackles, one try.
Nelson’s 48 tackles were second only to Mitch Rein, with a good metres tally also securing his first Team of the Week selection. With three offloads and two tackle-breaks, the second-rower offered plenty with the ball at Belmore.
17 – Rhyse Martin
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
16 total runs, 120 total metres, 35 tackles, two goals.
Kicking two goals in addition to a good attacking and defensive display, Martin is the Bulldogs’ only representative in the Round 7 Team of the Week. The second-rower continues to perform consistently for the Canterbury-Bankstown side.