NRL Team of the Week – Round 8

England RL squad

Welcome to Round 8 of Rosco’s team of the week. Each week I’ll be giving you the low down of who’s who of each round.

Full-back: With the Cowboys really needing a win, and the Knights getting an up close and personal view of their multimillion dollar investment, Kaylan Ponga gets the gong this week for the 1 jersey. Announcing this week that not only will that he will pledge allegiance to coach Kevvie Walters but also his predecessor Mal Meninga if selected for rep duties, Ponga stepped out for the Cowboys against the Knights. Along the way to helping the Cowboys to the win, Ponga grabbed a double as well as breaking the line several times (along with the hearts of long suffering Knights fans). There is no doubting that Ponga possesses a great deal of natural ability and instinct. What does remain to be seen is next year when the Knights are in the middle of rebuilding a competitive team and the weight of expectation is on his young shoulders how will the hot stepper fair? For now..he is certainly looking the part in first grade.

Winger: Corey Oates gets a start in the team of the week this week. The giant winger from the Broncos had another whale of a game. Oates manages to find the line most weeks and this week was no different. Oates managed to get over the stripe on two occasions and racked up some other impressive stats. In the modern game when you have a winger that trucks it up like a forward and can grab you valuable metres and give the forwards a rest it is a God send. Oates managed to produce 16 runs for 178 metres against Bunnies in pretty heavy going round the middle third where the Burgess brothers were flexing their muscle. Throw in a couple line breaks and a few tackle busts and Corey Oates was certainly giving rep selectors plenty to think about.

Centre: A character probably not seen since the days of Wendell Sailor, Konrad Hurrell is the Centre of the week. In a winning side Hurrell had 16 runs for 165 metres. Always good for tucking the ball under his arm and doing the hard stuff up middle, Hurrell was at his tackle busting best breaking 5 tackles and delivering an offload for a solid all round performance. When he is not on the field, you can find him on social media giving fans and team mates plenty of laughs and hilarity on the way.

Five-eighth: ROTW has again selected a 5/8 for the half position this week. Sharks 5/8 James Maloney put in a great game in a losing side. Maloney seems to have that magical formula of wherever he goes success seems to follow. Against the Titans Maloney still delivered a very solid performance against Tyrone Roberts., running for about 70 metres more than his opposite number with an additional 7 runs for the game. “Jimmy” added a few extra points to the Sharks total also, kicking 2 goals. Unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to get the Premiers over the line. If the reports/ leaked test team for the Anzac Test are to be believed, coach Mal Meninga appears to be showing his loyalty to his incumbent and Maloney will be playing in the 6 jersey against the Kiwis, following on from his successful stint in last year’s four nations.

Prop: Having weathered a bigger storm this week than Cyclone Debbie, it was always going to be interesting to see how the NSW and Australian front rower would respond. With more talk about his coffee partners and choice of clubs for next year, it was imperative that Woods was able to deliver a big performance so as to not only solidify his spot in the NSW Origin team but to the Tigers faithful and deliver he did.  In a 64 minute stint, Woods carried for 215 metres, busted tackles and delivered a good captains knock to help the Tigers claim victory over the Bulldogs. As a dress rehearsal for next year, if Woods continues with this type of form, Bulldogs fans will very happy about the bookend that will be part of the kennel next year. Honorable mention this week goes out to the big bookend from the Storm, Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Asofa stood up in the game against the Warriors this week, getting over for a try and putting in another bustling performance which has put him in the frame for the New Zealand test team to play the Kangaroos.

Hooker: Very hard to go past one of the NRL’s most durable players  this week for the 9 jersey. Cameron Smith was again very solid in a sea sawing tussle with the Warriors on Anzac Day. The player with the accountant’s body, had 13 runs for 73 metres and laid on a try assist as well as completing 35 tackles. Not a bad afternoon at the office. Barring injury, Smith will undoubtedly be there when the Kangaroo squad is announced for the Anzac test and will be the first player picked for the Maroons come State of Origin time. The one thing that is noticeable is that even though Slater has been out for some time, that combination between Smith, Cronk and Slater is still undeniable and will serve the Storm well come finals time.

Second Row/Lock: Former Rabbitoh, now Titan and soon to be Tiger Chris McQueen gets a call up for RTOTW (Rosco’s Team of The Week) for round 8. Undeniably McQueen has been one of the most consistent back rowers in the NRL this season, so much so that there were plenty of suitors coming to the dance when he went on the market. Having a distinguished career with Souths which led him to the representative arena for QLD and Prime Minister’s 13 as well as the World All Stars, this week “Lightning” was selected to play for the Mother Land and take up the call to arms for the Wayne Bennett coached England. There may be some ribbing from his team mates and a few raised eyebrows from Super League fans, but there is no doubt that if the big back rower is called upon to do a job for Bennett against Samoa that English supporters will be glad that he has donned the jersey.

Selections are purely my own based on a range of stats. I would love your feedback and contributions so please comment below. Have a great week footy heads!