NRL team of the week Round 1

Riley Pettigrew Roar Guru

By Riley Pettigrew, Riley Pettigrew is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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16 Have your say

    The NRL is back and fans were not left disappointed. There were a host of upsets over the weekend with a plethora of stars standing up for their teams.

    Here is the NRL team of the week for Round 1 of the 2018 season.

    Fullback: Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
    Shifting from five-eighth to fullback due to Billy Slater’s absence through a knee injury, Cameron Munster showed why he is considered one of rugby league’s rising stars.

    The Australian international held a commanding presence at the back on attack setting up three tries, running rampant with 192 metres gained from only 17 hit-ups.

    He was just as strong on defence with 13 tackles during the Storm’s win over the Bulldogs in Perth.

    Cameron Munster Melbourne Storm

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    Wing: Jorge Taufua (Manly Sea Eagles)
    Jorge Taufua made his return to the top flight in style nabbing a try in Manly’s golden point loss to the Knights. The game-breaking winger ran more than any other player with a huge 227 metres alongside his seven tackle busts.

    Centre: James Roberts (Brisbane Broncos)
    It was a night to forget for the Broncos on Thursday, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for James Roberts.

    Roberts announced himself by scoring Brisbane’s only two tries against the St George Illawarra Dragons. He offered plenty of promise in an otherwise lacklustre Broncos line-up.

    Brisbane Broncos NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Centre: Waqa Blake (Penrith Panthers)
    Sensational on the left flank for the Panthers, Waqa Blake bagged a double against the Eels and nearly sent Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over in the corner.

    The Fijian was strong defensively marking Michael Jennings and was arguably Penrith’s best player on the pitch.

    Wing: Josh Hoffman (Parramatta Eels)
    The forgotten man in the Eels backline, Hoffman couldn’t be kept quiet against the Panthers. With two tries to his name early in the game, the former Kiwi international sparked the Eels’ attack.

    Alongside centre Jarryd Hayne, Hoffman saved two possible Josh Mansour tries hampering Penrith’s potent left-side attack. The pair combined well with Hoffman making eight tackle busts.

    Josh Hoffman of the Parramatta Eels in 2017

    (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

    Five-Eighth: Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
    Although South Sydney couldn’t conjure up a win, Cody Walker was a bright beacon for the cardinal and myrtle.

    Walker proved to be a lethal weapon in attack with Adam Reynolds resuming the playmaking reins. Justifying his recent contract extension with two tries in attack, his 23 tackles on defence were just as convincing.

    Halfback: Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
    Kitted out in his new colours against his old club the Broncos, Ben Hunt was the key talking point coming out of the NRL season opener in Kogarah.

    Hunt showed stellar organisation setting up a try and combining well with Gareth Widdop through a pin-perfect kicking game. He also managed to shut down the Broncos attack well, picking off Matthew Lodge to run away and score leaving Wayne Bennett’s men red-faced.

    Ben Hunt Dragons

    (Matt King/Getty Images)

    Prop: Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons)
    The firebrand helped to dominate the battle in the middle of the park for the Red V with 168 metres, averaging nine metres per hit-up. His presence was felt on the field with two tackle busts and 26 tackles for the match.

    Hooker: Apisai Koroisau (Manly Sea Eagles)
    Koroisau continued his claim as the NRL’s second best hooker with an inspiring performance for Manly.

    The Fijian supercharged a cohesive Silvertails attack with a try assist and tackle bust to his name as well as a couple of solid darts out of acting half.

    It was his defensive capabilities which turned heads though, the 25-year-old playing a pivotal role around the ruck with 66 tackles.

    Prop: Martin Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles)
    Taupau stood tall in the middle of the park for the Sea Eagles with a host of enigmatic plays. Six offloads were made by the big man while has also recorded 164 metres. In addition, his defensive effort didn’t go missing with a respectable 29 tackles.

    Back Row: Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans)
    James made a near-perfect transition to the edge in the Gold Coast’s record 18-point comeback win over Canberra, and he led the way on attack with 197 metres gained from 19 hit-ups. He also contributed heavily defensively with 31 tackles.

    Gold Coast Titans player Ryan James

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Back Row: Tohu Harris (New Zealand Warriors)
    A resilient performer for the New Zealand franchise, Tohu Harris’s arrival from Melbourne was felt in the Warriors’ big win over Souths in Perth.

    He put in a solid all-round performance both in attack and defensively, his 12 hit-ups translating to 132 metres gained in addition to his 29 tackles.

    Lock Forward: Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra Dragons)
    The underrated middleman was extremely influential in Thursday’s season opener, scoring a four-pointer for his efforts. With 32 tackles, he led the Dragons defence in a workhorse performance with 126 metres to his name.

    Interchange: Ashley Taylor (Gold Coast Titans)
    The Titans’ star lived up to the hype as usual by steering the Titans to a euphoric victory. Having a hand in four tries, Taylor was pivotal in sparking an impressive comeback with his cool-handed composure inspiring the glamour strip outfit.

    Ash Taylor

    (Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

    Interchange: Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels)
    Brown was explosive as ever against Penrith putting in the hard yards in the battle of the west. Leading from the front, he proved to always be a threat on attack, with 157 metres gained while he hung around the ruck with his 28 tackles.

    Interchange: Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra Dragons)
    Another standout in the Dragons pack, Ah Mau was enormous on Thursday night, with three tackle busts and two offloads. He made seriously strong advances on attack, with 175 metres in total, sending shockwaves through Brisbane’s defensive line.

    Interchange: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
    Novocastrians were not left wanting as star recruit Kalyn Ponga delivered their first try of 2018 early on Friday evening. Destructive at fullback, the youngster justified his price tag, giving long-suffering Newcastle fans something to smile about with a sound attacking performance highlighted by a huge 13 tackle breaks.

    Roarers, who made your team of the week? Which player stood out the most in Round 1 of the 2018 NRL season?

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:18am
      MAX said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Riley, I am surprised you could not find a place for Viliame Kikau.

      Gus should make it top priority to sign him up past 2019.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 9:22am
        Riley Pettigrew said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        You don’t know just how close he was to getting a spot in my TOTW MAX. Kikau was there at the 79th minute before I decided to put Ryan James and Ashley Taylor in after the Titans’ win.

        What an entertaining way to start the season. Eight gripping games, four of which were decided by two points or less!

      • March 12th 2018 @ 4:20pm
        Albo said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

        Hi Max ! Billy Kikau has shown the promise for a couple of seasons now and came of age in the World Cup for Tonga. He is still in need of some polish & experience but potential is great. I loved the games of a couple of other backrowers in the Warriors’ Isaiah Papalii & the Dogs’ Raymond Faitala-Mariner. Both have added some starch and attacking ability to their packs.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 5:11pm
          BA Sports said | March 12th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

          Second time I have seen that written today. Kikau played well in the World Cup.. for Fiji.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:54am
      Aem said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      Walker might’ve had two tries but one was in garbage time when the game was already over, and he was out-shone consistently by his opposite number, who ran the game and kept coming up with big plays when his team really needed them. I would’ve gone Green @ 6.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 10:00am
      Forty Twenty said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      How refreshing to see players from losing teams make the list and plenty of them. I saw Jorge limping around before the trial game against the Roosters and he didn’t look good but he played very strongly in that game and against the Knights. Some time out of the game has helped with some other injuries as well it seems.

      I still wonder how Milford wasn’t declared best on field in the 2015 GF despite being in the losing team. JT wasn’t even close to being the best player in that game.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2018 @ 10:21am
      Nat said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

      Agree with MAX that Kikau should be there although James did play well against a massive pack. Munster was outstanding but you could have easily started Ponga, mainly because he was tested more, or RTS who excelled in both attack and defence. All that aside, at least the list is not the usual subjects so let’s hope they keep it up.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 10:28am
      Chilli said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Yeah i thought Ryan James lucky to get a spit in your team this week. Didnt play a lot of minutes and wasnt his most impactful game.
      I would go with Fatulai-Mariner or Kikau who had a real impact on their team. Tapine wouldve been a lock on his first half performance but he got the chilli fantasy team curse with broken finger.
      Would take Hurrell over Roberts in the centres too… geez he played a game didnt he!! And back to previous point hurrell had more impact than james did in that one.
      Thank you for picking a bunny ya for it 😚

      • March 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm
        Haradasun said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        James played the whole game.

        The fat also had a great game, kikau whitehead played well too. I thought marstrers had a great game for the tigers in the centres and was one of the standouts for the rd

        • March 12th 2018 @ 2:19pm
          BA Sports said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

          Agree on Masters. I thought he was the only Tigers player who threatened the defence at all.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 2:56pm
        Riley Pettigrew said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

        The main reason for Kikau being replaced by James was that he came off injured midway through the match just as Penrith started to lift. Vili though was very impressive as were a host of other players who missed out on selection.

        A couple of those names you mention I had shortlisted. For reference here would be my ‘B’ team for round one:

        1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors), 2. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm), 3. Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), 4. Konileti Hurrell (Titans), 5. Blake Ferguson (Roosters), 6. Blake Green (Warriors), 7. Nathan Cleary (Panthers), 8. Aaron Woods (Bulldogs), 9. Issac Luke (Warriors), 10. Herman Ese’ese (Knights), 11. Viliame Kikau (Panthers), 12. Tyson Frizell (Dragons), 13. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
        Interchange: 14. Isaah Yeo (Panthers), 15. Trent Merrin (Panthers), 16. Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles), 17. Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Knights)

        I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of football on display this weekend. Plenty to look forward to in what shapes as a close season.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 4:33pm
        Albo said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

        Spot on Billy !
        I think I might still have that fantasy team curse too ! I started Tapine and Sharks Seone Katoa – both off with early season breakages , and whilst I have Kikau in my 25, I didn’t start him this week when he was moved to the bench just before kick off. I thought James was very good, but I agree with you re Fatulai-Mariner( about time he has had some serious game time!) and Hurrell was fantastic for the Titans. Plenty of good performances across the board.

        • March 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm
          Chilli said | March 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          I got pretty lucky overall mate. Had griffin, kickau and Rochow on my bench 17 so overall i was sweet. Had Mariner and Corey Thompson in and out of my team all week but ended up not having them at all! Otherwise i reckon i would be no1 with a bullet.
          Quick trade Tapine for Mariner this week though. A broken finger is a 3 week injury eh? Once tapine is back in the 13 i might just swap em again lol.
          Out of all my team the only blokes that really let me down was Kota who i had but didnt play and French who flat out got 13pts…he is gooone and put isaako in a starting role. He looked pretty good for the broncs i thought.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 5:21pm
      Big Willy TBU said | March 12th 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

      Thanks for naming half the Titans team but not a single Raider.

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