Well, the third round of Super League is over and what a weekend it was!
From Hull KR’s one-point victory over Huddersfield to Hull and Warrington’s tensely fought draw, round three had it all.
But, just which 17 players deserve their place in the first Team of the Week?
1. Zak Hardaker
Despite wearing the number three on his back, Zak Hardaker earns yet another Team of the Week at fullback, which most people would say is his natural position. He flourished against Leeds, scoring a superb individual effort as he looked increasingly dangerous and effective at the back. Surely Adrian Lam must see Hardaker as his first-choice number one by now?!
2. Derrell Olpherts
The winger has started 2021 just as he began 2020 – like a house on fire. Against Leigh, Derrell Olpherts made 241 metres, nine tackle busts, and scored two tries in a brilliantly accomplished display. Known for his hard yardage out of defence, Olpherts certainly made the Centurions’ defence work hard to keep him down.
3. Kevin Naiqama
The first of two St Helens centres making the Team of the Week, Kevin Naiqama tore Wakefield to shreds down Trinity’s left-edge defence and took both of his tries superbly. Perhaps one to take a backseat as other Saints stars hog the limelight, the Fijian came into his own on Friday night.
4. Jack Welsby
You really couldn’t have one Saints centre without the other as Jack Welsby too performed admirably, crossing for another try and looking incredibly composed in the left centres having deputised at fullback for most of the season so far. Some will forget that the utility man is still only 20 years of age so there is plenty more to come from the youngster.
5. Fouad Yaha
The Frenchman knows where the try-line is and Fouad Yaha was able to cross it three times for a well-taken hat-trick in Catalans’ demolition of Salford on Saturday night. Always one to put his hand up to get the Dragons out of trouble too, Yaha has become a mainstay in the French club’s side for a good few years now.
6. Jackson Hastings
He’s been the subject of intense rumours about where he will lay his hat in 2022, but Jackson Hastings proved his commitment to Wigan on Thursday against Leeds with a quite brilliant performance. The halfback crossed for the Warriors in a crucial part of the fixture as he took his role by the scruff of the neck.
7. Jordan Abdull
Hull KR gave their best performance of the season in their 25-24 victory over Huddersfield on Friday night, but it was that man Jordan Abdull who got the Robins over the line – finally. After two narrow one-point defeats, KR pushed the Giants all the way before Abdull delivered the hammer blow with minutes to spare.
8. George Lawler
The Hull KR prop has been in impeccable form so far in 2021, but George Lawler took it to another level on Friday night. The forward made 52 tackles, 18 carries, and 131 metres in what can only be described as a workmanlike stint, receiving the praises of boss Tony Smith in the process.
9. Paul McShane
Paul McShane seems to appear in every Team of the Week side and there’s a good reason for that: he’s sheer and utter class. Once more against Leigh, the hooker devastated the Centurions down the middle, carving out great field position and chances from his vision and poise. It would really be a travesty if McShane didn’t make the England World Cup squad at the end of the year.
10. Chris Satae
The Hull FC prop has really come in to his own in 2021 after making big strides last year. And, against Warrington, Chris Satae did the dirty work down the middle, laying the platform for Marc Sneyd and Ben McNamara to punish the Wolves.
11. James Bentley
He’s become one of St Helens’ most consistent performers already in 2021 and James Bentley demonstrated just why on Friday night, making 43 tackles, 146 metres, and scoring one try. Bentley is quickly becoming a fans’ favourite for his huge work ethic and some have even called for the second-rower to be a surprise inclusion in Shaun Wane’s England side.
12. Mike McMeeken
The Londoner seems to have been given a new lease of life in the south of France as Mike McMeeken carved Salford up on the right edge in Saturday’s emphatic win. Taking at least two defenders with him in almost every carry, McMeeken looks to be a real asset for the Dragons moving forward.
13. Jordan Lane
Jordan Lane was the architect of both of Hull FC’s tries in their draw to Warrington, rampaging straight through two massive holes in the middle of the Wolves’ defence before offloading to supporting players to cross. The loose-forward appears to have gone from strength-to-strength under Brett Hodgson and FC fans will be hoping long may it continue.
14. Jordan Turner
Jordan Turner is proving to be a very shrewd acquisition by Daryl Powell at Castleford, with the utility man certainly demonstrating his value in the opening three rounds. Having played on the wing in the Tigers’ opening two Super League games – as well as the Challenge Cup third round – Turner was drafted in off the bench on Friday night with the injury to Gareth O’Brien and wow did he lay a marker down.
15. Sam Kasiano
Yet again the Catalans prop delivered a rampaging effort off the bench to help the Dragons firmly turn the screw against a disappointing Salford side – who remain winless.
16. Joe Philbin
He started on the bench for Warrington, but Joe Philbin certainly made his presence felt once he came onto the field. With a powerful running style and unrivalled enthusiasm, Philbin helped the Wolves against a huge Hull pack.
17. Lewis Dodd
He only came on the field in the 54th minute, but Lewis Dodd sure did make an impact in those 26 minutes. Looking increasingly assured on the ball, the 19-year-old has a big future in the game.