Well, the first round of Super League is over and what a weekend it was!
From Leigh’s incredibly close loss to Wigan, to Catalans’ Golden Point victory over Hull KR, the action has been fast, frenetic and downright entertaining.
But, just which 17 players deserve their place in the first Team of the Week?
1. Zak Hardaker
It was close between Zak Hardaker and Niall Evalds for the number one spot, but Hardaker just edges it. The Wigan man only played there because Bevan French has only just arrived back in the country, but the former Leeds and Castleford fullback slotted in superbly. Arguably the architect of Wigan’s comeback win against Leigh, Hardaker brought home an eight-point haul, but it was his assist for Jake Bibby’s second that stood out most. Taking the ball on his own 20-metre line, Hardaker galloped through the Centurions’ defence before offloading to Bibby to score under the posts. It was the score that settled the match.
2. Tom Johnstone
Who else but Tom Johnstone on the right wing? The flying winger scored two sensational efforts, both of which were over 90 metres each, as he lay down a marker for the England squad.
3. Alex Sutcliffe
Drafted in to start in the centres, Alex Sutcliffe had a storming game against Wakefield, scoring once and fitting into the side seamlessly.
4. Mathieu Laguerre
The young Frenchman had a baptism of fire against Hull KR, but he proved ready to step up to the first-team with a seriously accomplished display. A try and a beautiful assist off the ground earned Laguerre the man-of-the-match which very few pundits and fans could disagree with.
5. Ryan Hall
Big shoutouts to Jordan Turner and Fouad Yaha for their respective performances, but the returning Ryan Hall just can’t be denied a spot in this Team of the Week. A hat-trick on debut proved that the winger still possesses the class that once made him a firm Leeds favourite.
6. Jake Trueman
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Trueman suffered heavily with a back problem in 2020, but, on his performance against Warrington, that is no longer an issue. With some superb short kicks that caused havoc in the Wolves’ defence, Trueman came back with a bang, eating up the added pressure from the departure of Gareth O’Brien early in the first-half.
7. Josh Reynolds
Yes, he didn’t play 7 in Hull’s victory over Huddersfield, but Josh Reynolds could not be left out of this side after a stellar run out on his debut. With all eyes on the Aussie to perform, he did just that and arguably looks like the missing piece in the FC puzzle.
8. Alex Walmsley
Is there ever really a game in which Alex Walmsley has a bad game? He showed just why against Salford on Friday night that he is one of the most reliable forwards in Super League with yet another brilliant performance, capping it off with a well-taken try. Should surely be a shoo-in for the England World Cup squad.
9. Paul McShane
2020 Man of Steel Paul McShane looked his devastating best as Castleford put Warrington to the sword. The versatile playmaker shifted from hooker to halfback to replace Gareth O’Brien and it did not stifle the Tigers one ounce in attack. Slotting the drop-goal over which effectively ended the contest, McShane earned the man-of-the-match.
10. Ligi Sao
After being tipped for big things in 2021, Ligi Sao wasted no time in showing just why. With some monstrous carries under his belt, the Samoan international helped carve Huddersfield up down the middle, laying the platform for his backs. Definitely one to watch this season.
11. Matt Whitley
He goes about his business quietly for the Catalans Dragons, but Matt Whitley demonstrated his toughness and tenacity in the French side’s victory over Hull KR. Repeatedly bloodied and bandaged, the second-rower barged his way over in the 15th minute and had some great joy down the left-hand side.
12. James Bentley
He impressed greatly in 2020 with St Helens, but James Bentley looks to have found another gear for the Lancashire club in 2021. The second-rower carried strongly and made some big hits in defence, but it’s his overall work ethic which catches the eye mainly.
13. Zane Tetevano
Leeds only just scraped past Wakefield on Saturday afternoon, but one man that played a big part in that was Leeds’ new signing Zane Tetevano. The loose-forward appeared comfortable with the ball, taking in some big carries, but also wasn’t afraid to throw the ball around either. Definitely looks a shrewd acquisition from Richard Agar.
14. Daryl Clark
Had a major impact off the bench for Warrington, scoring a delightful try, but couldn’t inspire a comeback.
15. Cameron Smith
Helped steady the Leeds ship when he came on.
16. Elliott Minchella
Was a major factor in Hull KR’s comeback when he came off the bench in the second-half, providing inspiration with his bullocking runs.
17. Arthur Mourgue
Was only on the field for five minutes, but caught three swirling bombs and provided the field position from which James Maloney could strike the winning drop-goal.