VB Blues Team Of The Week | Round 23

Each week of the NRL season, the NSWRL.com.au staff writers will have their say on the round's best performing New South Welshmen. These are based entirely on the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSWRL or the State of Origin selection process.

1 – Alex Johnston
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.

14 total runs, 143 total metres, two line-breaks, one try-assist, three tackle-breaks, two tries.
In a highly-competitive race for the no.1 spot, it was impossible to look past Alex Johnston as he overcame a disappointing Bulldogs outfit on Thursday night. For the second consecutive week, Johnston has helped the Rabbitohs’ attack in a big way to propel them to victory – and he now sits outright first on the competition’s try scorers’ list.

2 – David Nofoaluma
Club: Wests Tigers; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 4.

18 total runs, 239 total metres, one line-break, two offloads, 10 tackle-breaks.
Nofoaluma’s two long-range intercepts in the space of five minutes was a major turning point in the second half at Leichhardt Oval, with the Wests Tigers scoring twice to get back into the contest. They ensured the winger ran second in metres gained across the competition on the weekend and most importantly, went a long way in sealing a memorable upset for Tigers faithful.

3 – Tyrone Peachey
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.

18 total runs, 155 total metres, one try-assist, two tackle-breaks, one line-break-assist.
Peachey was strong in an impressive Panthers side on Saturday night, providing the spark that was needed to turn the game around. Penrith trailed 16-6 when the centre kept the ball alive to set up Nathan Cleary in the second half, going on to win and continue a good run into the finals.

4 – Jarrod Croker
Club: Canberra Raiders; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.

10 total runs, 149 total metres, two line-breaks, one try-assist, two tackle-breaks, one try, six goals.
The Raiders’ left-side attack was exceptional again in Auckland, led by the skipper who once again combined well with Nick Cotric. After he broke the line and set up Cotric for the first try of the afternoon, he scored one himself to take his career tally to 106 – second on the Raiders’ all-time list – and also had a flawless outing with the boot.

5 – Nick Cotric
Club: Canberra Raiders; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.

12 total runs, 156 total metres, two line-breaks, one try-assist, six tackle-breaks, two tries.
Cotric continues to perform strongly for the Raiders, leaving little doubt that he will be the Dally M Rookie of the Year in 2017. In his first season, the 18-year-old has scored 15 tries – including two against the Warriors – and has more than handled a specialist position in the NRL.

6 – Brock Lamb (c)
Club: Newcastle Knights; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.

17 total runs, 103 total metres, two line-breaks, one try-assist, 15 tackles, six tackle-breaks, one line-break-assist, one try, one field goal.
For the second-consecutive week, Brock Lamb was deemed our best-performing New South Welshman in the NRL after lifting the Knights to a third straight victory. While Newcastle remains in 16th place, there are plenty of positives for Lamb to take from season 2017 and he has shown promise of being a special player in the future. On Friday, he helped create two tries as well as scoring his own, the best on ground at ANZ Stadium.

Please note the captaincy is awarded to the chosen best performer each round and is not based on any club captaincy or leadership qualities.

7 – Nathan Cleary
Club: Penrith Panthers; Origin appearances: 0; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.

24 tackles, seven tackle-breaks, one line-break-assist, two tries, four goals.
Fresh off the task of taking on dad Ivan in the coaching box last week, Cleary might have enjoyed less of the spotlight in the Panthers’ clash with the Cowboys. The halfback scored a double as Penrith piled on 18 unanswered points to beat North Queensland, but also pulled off one of the try-savers of the year against 110kg-forward Coen Hess.