ISP NSW 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 – Honeti Tuha
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
One try-assist, one line-break, four tackle-breaks, one try.
Tuha was willing for the Magpies and among the visitors’ best, slicing through for an early four-pointer and doing his best to bring more as Wentworthville fell behind. In the dying moments a grubber finally brought dividends as George Jennings pounced for a consolation try.
2 – Maika Sivo
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
12 total runs, 125 total metres, two line-breaks, five tackle-breaks, two tries.
Sivo continued his try-scoring form with another two at Henson Park as Penrith ran rampant against a hapless Newtown side. Both wings were impressive for the Panthers and Sivo always seemed likely to score at least once – the Fijian flyer still leads the Ron Massey Cup try scorers’ list despite last playing in Round 16.
3 – Jacob Gagan
Club: Newcastle Knights; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
One line-break, three tackle-breaks, one offload, 19 tackles, two tries.
Back-to-back tries for the Knights centre proved vital in the end as Newcastle narrowly overcame Mounties, taking the ascendancy late in the first half. Gagan finds himself in the Team of the Week for the first time but will be one of many NRL-experienced players who will need to be at their best as the Knights continue their push towards the finals.
4 – Dean Whare
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
13 total runs, 117 total metres, two try-assists, two line-break-assists, three tackle-breaks, one offload, 17 tackles.
For the first time in memory, Dean Whare lined up in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW on a return from a broken jaw, delivering what would be expected of a Kiwi international at that level. Two try-assists for Sivo were relatively easy for Whare in what was already a classy Panthers back line.
5 – Christian Crichton
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 1.
13 total runs, 187 total metres, one line-break, eight tackle-breaks, two tries.
Crichton’s double in the space of four minutes late in the first half well and truly put the Panthers on the front foot heading into half-time, with the lead to prove insurmountable for the Jets. It follows a double scored against the Wyong Roos in Round 21, with Crichton’s recent record reading seven tries in his past four games.
6 – Jackson Hastings
Club: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
Seven total runs, 80 total metres, one line-break assist, one try assist, one line-break, one try, 13 tackles.
Renowned for his work with the ball in hand, Jackson Hastings' attacking flair was on show for all to see against the Tigers, running in a try of his own while also turning provider on occasions for his teammates. Hastings slotted seven goals from seven attempts in the eight-tries-to-two win.
7 – Adam Clune
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.
One try-assist, one line-break, one tackle-break, 24 tackles, one try.
Illawarra's Adam Clune burrowed his way over the line for a try of his own in the side's 14-point win over the Bears. The try was just rewards for the nippy half, who expertly steered the side around the field en route to a vital two competition points.
8 – Royce Hunt
Club: Mounties; 2017 TOTW selections: 2.
15 total runs, 150 total metres, three line-breaks, 19 tackles, three tries.
One try and 150 metres would usually get a front-rower in the Team of the Week, but Hunt managed three in a powerful forward’s display at Aubrey Keech Reserve. While the home side didn’t come out on top, all five tries were scored by forwards. Hunt’s first Intrust Super Premiership NSW hat-trick was achieved with three typically hard runs from close range in a career-best performance.
9 – Glen Buttriss
Club: Mounties; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
Four try-assists, four line-break-assists, 17 tackles.
The dominance of Mounties’ forward pack was engineered by their dummy-half, who threw the final pass in four of their tries against Newcastle. The go-forward which Mounties enjoyed throughout the game was largely possible thanks to Buttriss’ efforts.
10 – Daniel Palavi
Club: Warriors; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
17 total runs, 163 total metres, one line-break, three tackle-breaks, two offloads, 23 tackles, one try.
Palavi topped the metre count at Mt Smart Stadium with a strong game which included a try to open the scoring for the Warriors. With a solid running game, Palavi got his side on the front foot to win an important game over the Magpies.
11 – Luciano Leilua (C)
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 6.
15 total runs, 125 total metres, one try-assist, one line-break, seven tackle-breaks, two offloads, 24 tackles, one try.
Leilua was a wrecking ball as usual in Illawarra’s victory over the Bears, responsible for two of the side’s five tries. The second-rower’s offload found Sam Clune early in the game before a barnstorming run delivered another shortly after half-time. His seventh Team of the Week selection now pits him among some of the most consistent in the competition.
Please note the captaincy is awarded to the chosen best performer each round and is not based on any club captaincy or leadership qualities.
12 – Corey Waddell
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
13 total runs, 105 total metres, two try-assists, one offload, 24 tackles.
Waddell was threatening in another impressive display from Penrith, laying on two tries and making 24 tackles. A solid game earns him a maiden selection in the Team of the Week.
13 – Will Matthews
Club: Illawarra; 2017 TOTW selections: 1
11 total runs, 115 metres, five tackle-breaks, two offloads, 34 tackles.
Illawarra's Will Matthews turned in a trademark performance in his side's 30-16 win over the North Sydney Bears at Kogarah. Playing from siren-to-siren, Matthews was an ever-present force in the five-tries-to-three win to see Illawarra consolidate their place in the top eight.
14 – Manaia Cherrington
Club: Warriors; 2017 TOTW selections: 3.
Two try-assists, two line-break-assists, one tackle-break, 23 tackles.
Cherrington could consider himself unlucky not to earn the starting hooker role this week; the 23-year-old was likely the Warriors’ best. With the uncertainty surrounding Issac Luke in the Warriors’ NRL side, Cherrington pushed his own case with two try-assists and a number of forced dropouts to build pressure and ensure a 58 per cent possession rate.
15 – Frank Pritchard
Club: Wentworthville Magpies; 2017 TOTW selections: 0.
One tackle-break, one offload, 37 tackles, one try.
Despite fewer-than-expected metres in his 80-minute game, Pritchard looked the most threatening among the Magpies forwards in a rare game at Intrust Super Premiership NSW level. The former Bulldog and Panther set the tone early with a fortunate try in the sixth minute, followed by some good runs and 37 tackles for no misses.
16 – Viliame Kikau
Club: Penrith Panthers; 2017 TOTW selections: 4.
14 total runs, 157 total metres, one line-break, three tackle-breaks, one offload, 19 tackles, one try.
After Crichton, Kikau ran the furthest of anyone at Henson Park in a typical display from the NRL-experienced second-rower. His try to extend the Panthers’ lead in the second half was the cherry on top of another solid game at Intrust Super Premiership NSW level.
17 – Jarrad Kennedy
Club: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles; 2017 TOTW selections: 2
16 total runs, 146 total metres, one line-break, three tackle-breaks, one offload, one try assist, 42 tackles, two tries.
Workers Sea Eagles back-rower Jarrad Kennedy cashed in on his efforts in the middle of the park, ripping through the Wests Tigers defence to cross for a double in the side's 34-point win at H E Laybutt fields. Alongside lock Jamil Hopoate, Kennedy played out the duration of the contest, in what was a one-way affair at Blacktown.