Eight is enough: Did your favourites aim up in Round 2?

Tim Prentice Columnist

By Tim Prentice, Tim Prentice is a Roar Expert

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    After much thought, I calculated there are eight NRL players I like watching more than any others and I definitely got a mixed bag – or nothing – from them in the recently completed Round 2 of the premiership.

    I will tell you my ‘Elite Eight’ and how I think they went in a few moments, but I’d like Roarers to put in a little homework on this topic and name your eight favourites and what you expect to glean from them as the season gets serious.

    Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles)
    Not ready for action (hammy) and did not play against the Tigers but he is the x-factor the Sea Eagles need to get off the bottom of the ladder.

    This guy has experience, speed, try-scoring nous, vastly underrated kicking skills and tremendous defence. Manly could use all of the above this week.

    Shaun Fensom (Raiders)
    Got knocked into Disneyland in the first set of the game against the Roosters and took no further part. Pity that, he missed an epic Raiders’ win and deserves to be there when the going is good. He could be a top class bench-man for the NSW Blues.

    Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
    Always tries to produce every trick in the book but got out-gunned against the Parramatta Eels. He will not be happy with his efforts. I am disappointed as well.

    Michael Morgan (Cowboys)
    Another Cowboy, yes, but this player could be the game’s next superstar category player and will go close in the Dally Ms this year. Didn’t get many chances to show his incredible array of skills. The Eels’ defence was way too good and nullified him.

    Cameron Smith (Storm)
    Grabbed the game by the throat against the enthusiastic Titans just before halftime, laying on two tries. A class act who never lets anyone down.

    I love watching him scheming, he is the best captain in the game by a fair stretch. Has skills we haven’t even seen yet.

    Bryce Cartwright (Panthers)
    Could turn into the most creative forward we’ve enjoyed since, well, his uncle John Cartwright. I really like his enthusiasm, speed, vision and sublime ball skills. Got a few chances against the Bulldogs last Thursday but they were just too hot to trot.

    If you haven’t studied him before, suggest you do so this week. Carty: unique, special talent.

    Shaun Johnson (Warriors)
    Did he even play against the Broncs? Huge game, but he was hardly sighted from minute one until the last play. The stats say he took the line on once in the 80 minutes.

    Does he have a hang-up from last year’s serious injury? Is he playing to his coach’s instructions? Is five-eighth alien to his game? Is he dummy-spitting because he’s not in No.7? Does he even give a fig?

    I was bitterly disappointed with what we didn’t see from this incredible footballer. He can be a 10, we saw a 3. I’d drop him from the starting team. Seriously.

    Wade Graham (Sharks)
    This is another vastly unheralded player who should be at the forefront of Origin back-row, or even bench considerations.

    He turned in a typically strong display against neighbours St George Illawarra. Graham doesn’t turn heads, yet can change the course of any game he plays in.

    Feel free Roarers, to nominate your eight NRL favs and I’d be interested to read how you felt they went at the weekend.

    I’ll throw in a post-script – someone in my top eight might have to become my ninth sooner than later.

    Monday night’s exhilarations by the Wests Tigers’ full-back maestro James Tedesco, was, in the words of the late and great Robert Palmer, simply irresistible.

    Lift your game Shaun Johnson. The Warriors need you this week. Or plummet to a nine, or worse, on this list of favourites.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2016 @ 12:51pm
      The Barry said | March 16th 2016 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      I’ll have a go and for the sake of fairness I’ve excluded Bulldogs players…Graham, Kasiano, Morris (x2), Reynolds, Mbye, Jackson…where would it stop? This list is not necessarily in any order…

      Andrew Fifita – capable of big man plays that no one else can do, including his long range tries.

      Tui Lolohea – he was brilliant last year and I was really looking forward to more this season, but McFadden is playing him out of position on the wing. Shouldn’t be too long now though till they both find themselves in a new position.

      Manu Ma’u – I love watching this bloke play. Capable of extreme violence and deft touch. As tough as anyone in the comp. Forget his big hits and barnstorming runs…even his pre-match face is scary.

      Bryce Cartwright – you never know when the next miracle pass is coming. Brilliant ball playing back rower. Who knew ball playing was in the genes.

      Greg Inglis – also capable of the one in a million plays that no one else can do. Breathtaking when it’s all going right.

      Ben Barba – in 2012 he was like nothing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been waiting ever since to see it again. Glimpses here and there like his try against the Dragons on the weekend.

      Semi Radradra – another devestating player at his best. Unfortunately it looks like predictions of him being starved of the ball outside Jennings may have been on the money.

      Kane Elgey / Aiden Sezer – I was really looking forward to seeing Elgey’s development this year but seeing how he’s out all season I’ll go for Sezer after his form last year and in Rnd 1 this year.

      Kurt Mann – I know he’s technically ninth but he strengthens two positions so must be included. Greatest two position strengthener the game has seen.

    • Columnist

      March 16th 2016 @ 1:34pm
      Tom Rock said | March 16th 2016 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

      The players which I selected are based primarily on their ability to hold my interest. If there is a game between two bottom feeding teams, is there a player that will make me want to tune in and watch, just in case they do something spectacular. So here goes:

      Jack Bird – For someone so young, his versatility it outstanding. Can capably play in the halves, fullback or centre, yet his best position is probably lock. Things just seem to happen when he is around the ball. Look forward to tracking his career.

      Blake Austin – Not the most talented and skillful player going around, but just seems to have something about him. I remember when he was talked up as a Penrith junior, only to flame out at both the Panthers and Tigers. Something always seems to happen when he is involved.

      Cooper Cronk – Always an exhibition on the value of preparation. Never seen a player so meticulous in the way he goes about his craft.

      Anthony Milford – A player who seems to continue to improve with each game. His kicking in general play has improved dramatically, but his ability and willingness to have a crack at the line is outstanding. Next QLD superstar.

      James Graham – For me, the best leader in the NRL. His ability to not only lead through his actions, but also motivate his troops to maximise their performance is impressive.

      Jamie Soward – Every story needs a villain, someone we all love to hate. And while much of the dislike directed toward Soward is unwarranted, his actions on the field contribute to this perception. Car wreck viewing.

      James Tedesco – Every touch is compulsive viewing. The speed at which he operates is breathtaking. Will be the number 1 fullback in the game by seasons end, if not sooner.

      Adam Reynolds – I have had a soft spot for the Souths halfback since he broke onto the scene for the Bunnies a few years back before busting his hammy in the finals. Have longed for him to take the next step in his career and grab a Blue jersey, yet injuries and poorly timed form dips have conspired against him. 2016 would seem no exception.

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