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 – Honeti Tuha
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
12 total runs, 124 total metres, one line-break, two tackle-breaks, two tries.
Tuha crossed twice for the Magpies, but it could easily have been a hat-trick if not for a good strip from his opposite number on Sunday afternoon. The experienced custodian had only made the Team of the Week once in 2017 but with his double bringing Wentworthville so close to Canterbury-Bankstown, lines up at fullback after Round 21.
2 – Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck
Club: Wyong Roos; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
19 total runs, 150 total metres, two line-breaks, three tackle-breaks, one offload, two tries.
Tuivasa-Sheck, another member of a formidable Wyong back line, was first to score for the Roos on Saturday and followed it up with a second as the side closed in on half-time. As always, the winger was hard to handle and made his fair share of returns, earning his third selection in the competition’s form 17.
3 – Matt Ikuvalu (c)
Club: Wyong Roos; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
14 total runs, 146 total metres, two try-assists, two line-breaks, eight tackle-breaks, one offload, 15 tackles, two tries.
The Wyong Roos scored four tries in their miracle win over fellow contenders the Panthers on Saturday afternoon – and Ikuvalu was largely responsible for all of them. The Round 21 Team of the Week captain is extremely deserving, sending his outside man Tuivasa-Sheck over twice in the first half before heroically scoring two of his own in the final five minutes at Morry Breen Oval. While the Penrith players will find it difficult to shake that defeat from the memories, it is one game which Ikuvalu will always fondly remember.
Please note the captaincy is awarded to the chosen best performer each round and is not based on any club captaincy or leadership qualities.
4 – Tom Carr
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
14 total runs, 242 total metres, one try-assist, two line-breaks, four tackle-breaks, one try.
Carr ran further than anyone else in Round 21, coming primarily via two vital line-breaks down the right-hand side. The centre’s try came off the back of a 60-metre run, before the second break ended with a good ball to Josh Cleeland for the match-winner.
5 – Jai Field
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
One try-assist, two tackle-breaks, one try, seven goals.
When Field scored his only try against the Knights – and the side’s third in the clash at McDonald Jones Stadium – it appeared his side was en route to a dominant victory, leading 18-6 in the final stages of the first half. The talented half, who was initially named on the wing, then saw his side go within inches of giving up a big lead, and it was his sharp shooting from the kicking tee which lands him in the Team of the Week. The first high-pressure kick came in the 77th minute from out wide to level scores with a resurgent Newcastle outfit, before a penalty goal with just seconds remaining was calmly kicked from 40 metres out. Throw in a vital try-assist and it’s clear the 19-year-old had a Field day in the Hunter.
6 – Josh Cleeland
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; 2017 TOTW selections: 5.
Two try-assists, one tackle-break, one offload, 20 tackles, one try.
Much was made of Cleeland’s try to seal the Bulldogs’ Round 21 clash with the Magpies, but it came after the five-eighth had set up two others in yet another fantastic display. After a relatively slow start to his career in the blue and white, the 2016 Five-eighth of the Year has made the Team of the Week in each of the Bulldogs’ past four outings, emerging as a favourite for the major accolade again in 2017.
7 – Jack Cogger
Club: Newcastle Knights; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
Three try-assists, one line-break-assist, one tackle-break, 17 tackles.
Cogger’s three try-assists – including two in the space of five minutes – almost earned him the Team of the Week captaincy in a losing side on Saturday, encapsulating what was a fine showing against Illawarra. The halfback has only been in the Team of the Week once before but showed plenty of promise with his kicking game, which brought his side 251 metres as well as the three tries.
8 – Andy Saunders
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.
16 total runs, 137 total metres, one tackle-break, 19 tackles.
Doing the biggest share of work in attack amongst the Bulldogs’ forwards, Saunders makes the Team of the Week for the fourth time – and will be a key part of the blue-and-whites’ charge towards the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Finals Series.
9 – Manaia Cherrington
Club: Warriors; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
One line-break-assist, one line-break, two tackle-breaks, 28 tackles.
Diving over from dummy-half in the 28th minute, Cherrington is the Warriors’ only representative this week but put forward a good effort in his side’s win over the highly-fancied Mounties. The former Tiger and Shark was afforded 62 minutes and took on the bulk of the Warriors’ kicking in that time, also coming up with a line-break-assist from dummy-half.
10 – Magnus Stromquist
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
16 total runs, 155 total metres, two tackle-breaks, 38 tackles.
Stromquist had not made the Team of the Week while playing for Mounties earlier in 2017, but since shifting to Wentworthville has now made it three times in the past four weeks, indicating a significant step up in workload in the Parramatta system. His latest effort included 155 metres and 38 tackles; the latter was the most of his team.
11 – Luciano Leilua
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 5.
12 total runs, 148 total metres, one try-assist, two tackle-breaks, one offload, 27 tackles.
One of Illawarra’s big men, who got a taste of NRL in 2016, has been one of their most consistent in their victories this season, most recently pushing out a 148-metre, 27-tackle performance against the Knights. Leilua also sent Patrick Herbert to score in what turned out to be a narrow victory.
12 – Rhyse Martin
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; 2017 TOTW selections: 6.
14 total runs, 112 total metres, one line-break-assist, two line-breaks, seven tackle-breaks, two offloads, 22 tackles, two tries, seven goals.
In any match with a 30-28 scoreline, focus quickly centers in on the goalkickers – and that was a battle which Martin won against the Magpies with five conversions from as many attempts. Not often, however, does the winning goalkicker also score a double, late in each half to give his side the best chance of victory, capping a sensational game at Ringrose Park. Martin’s 18-point haul brings him up to second on the overall point-scorers’ list behind the Panthers’ Darren Nicholls.
13 – Bradie Smith
Club: Newcastle Knights; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
17 total runs, 148 total metres, one tackle-break, 40 tackles.
Smith put forward a huge effort for the Knights on Saturday, making the most metres among his forward pack and more tackles than any other teammate. The 22-year-old makes the Team of the Week for the first time and is one to watch.
14 – Isaac John
Club: Mounties; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
Two line-breaks, three tackle-breaks, 18 tackles, two tries, three goals.
The 10-minute stint in which Isaac John notched up a double could easily have led to a Mounties victory across the Tasman, but momentum swung once again later in the contest. Regardless, the halfback’s 10 points against the Warriors earn him a debut in the Team of the Week.
15 – Marata Niukore
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.
15 total runs, 168 total metres, five tackle-breaks, 36 tackles.
Another key part of the Magpies’ forward pack, Niukore makes the competition’s best 17 for the fourth time with a good all-round game including more metres than any forward on the park and 36 tackles for zero misses. Wentworthville couldn’t get the two points on Sunday but alongside Stromquist, Niukore forms a tough front row.
16 – Royce Hunt
Club: Mounties; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
11 total runs, 145 total metres, one line-break, seven tackle-breaks, one offload, 22 tackles, one try.
A line-break and resulting try to level things up helped Hunt to the biggest metre tally of his side on the weekend, along with seven tackle-breaks and 22 tackles. It was a good stint for a man who’s been here once before, lifting his side after coming off the bench against the Warriors.
17 – Will Matthews
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
Five tackle-breaks, three offloads, 48 tackles.
Matthews was an unsung hero on Saturday afternoon but with a big defensive effort and bustling runs. The experienced second-rower, who has failed to crack the Dragons’ NRL side since dislocating his hip in the pre-season, proved his worth again as he makes the Team of the Week for the first time this year.