Brilliance from the Dally M Medallist!
We are a quarter into the 2019 NRL season and as always there have been a number of surprises and disappointments.
We are starting to see what each team is made of with and group of teams are separating themselves from the rest.
Biggest surprise: Canberra Raiders
After six games they are 5-1 with their only loss coming against the Melbourne Storm.
The Raiders with a halves pairing of Jack Wighton who has really impressed, with unknown Charnze-Nicoll Klokstad at fullback many were not sure how the Raiders will perform, especially with the loss of Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd – their two starting props.
The Raiders were not picked to be equal-first after six rounds.
Honourable mention: Parramatta Eels
Biggest flop: Brisbane Broncos
Many tipped them to win the grand final, yet they are 1-5. On top of that, they sacked seven-time premiership-wining coach Wayne Bennett for rookie Anthony Seibold, who had been hailed as the best young coach in the game.
The majority of the blame is the lack of effort from Darius Boyd and no direction from the halves.
No better example was the putrid game management when trying to set up a field goal in the dying stages against the Wests Tigers.
Honourable mention: Penrith Panthers
Best signing: John Bateman
Once again the Raiders struck gold by bringing an English player. He is by no means the biggest player but he been a revelation. His running style makes him so difficult to tackle.
He has been key in the Raiders 5-1 start, proving to be a match-winner against the Broncos on Easter Sunday. Now, a cult following has ensued.
The Raiders may have started a trend of where to recruit.
Honourable mention: Blake Ferguson
Best Player: Luke Keary
Coming off wining the Clive Churchill Medal, Keary has proven to be the best half in the game.
He has the most try assists and he made sure the Roosters have not missed a beat when Cooper Cronk was out.
The masterclass he put on against Manly where he set up five tries is a reason why he had locked up the five-eighth NSW spot.
Honourable mention: Cameron Munster
Most disappointing player: Anthony Milford
To be on $1 million a year – and to be highest paid player in Broncos history – you expect much more then what he has produced.
His kicking game is poor as is his game management. As mentioned above, the Broncos have surrounded him with a great young pack and representative players in the backs so there are no excuses.
Some may say Kodi Nikorima is culpable, but he is not on the money Milford is on.
Honourable mention: Darius Boyd
Best coach: Brad Arthur
It would be easy to go with Craig Bellamy or Trent Robinson, but Brad Arthur has lead his team to a 4-2 start.
For a team coming of the wooden spoon – and with 14 players unsigned including captain Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses – he has guided a team without a home for the first part of the year to success.
Honourable mention: Ricky Stuart
Coach most under pressure: Nathan Brown
Brown has been gifted the benefit of doubt for so long. He has been given the squad he wants with addition of Test prop David Klemmer.
Many thought this will be the year they make the top eight. However they are 1-5.
They have been close many times this year but his inability to find a half to pair with Mitchell Pearce has really hurt this team.
They have become too reliant on Kalyn Ponga to score. If they don’t start wining games Brown may be out of town.
Whoever thought the Storm will finally have on off year just won’t ever learn.
The Panthers are way too reliant on Villame Kikau.
Manly have played really well without Dylan Walker and Tom Trbojevic and on top of being under salary cap sanctions.
Cowboys really missed Ben Barba and also missing out on Valentine Holmes plus the Nene MacDonald injury has made their outside backs look very weak.
The Sharks have missed the influence of Shane Flanagan. The Warriors have had four different half pairing this year, why on earth they released Shaun Johnson.
The Bulldogs are playing really well for the talent they have – also how is Michael Lichaa still in the NRL.
Souths seem like they content with doing just enough to win. The Eels are probably going to make the finals and have zero Australia or State or Origin players.
Moses Mbye has been quiet and a non-factor as the Tigers captain. Sio Taukehio has been the best prop this year.
The Titans recent wins against two poor teams hasn’t convinced me yet they have turned the corner. I’m surprised Corey Norman addition to Dragons has backfired.
If Conor Watson is on $500k a year then that’s mind blowing. Based on form of players and recent retirements NSW should win 3-0 against Queensland.