NRL team of the week Round 9
Another scintillating week of NRL footy saw plenty of players assert themselves as attacking threats and defensive stalwarts. As Origin approaches, the fight for individual form remains significant despite what certain press conference platitude spitters might have you believe.
Here’s is your birdlikewire.com Round 9 team of the week.
Fullback: Kalyn Ponga (c)
165 kicking metres, 1 try assist
The stats don’t tell it all. Ponga continues to engage multiple defenders every time he gets himself into the line. His ball to Ken Sio, whilst ultimately leading to a no try on the back of a dodgy put down, was one of the best you’ll see all season.
Wing: Corey Oates
1 try, 1 linebreak, 2 tackle breaks
Improving every week. The big winger’s barnstorming run in the final minutes of play against the Bulldogs was more or less the reason Brisbane won.
Centre: Euan Aitken
2 tries, 2 linebreaks, 6 tackle breaks
Since his first grade debut, Aitken has been regarded as a defensively astute centre who punches well above his weight. This year he’s showing all the makings of a complete player. An Origin dark-horse, no doubt.
Five-eighth: Cody Walker
1 try, 1 linebreak, 3 tackle breaks
It was an emotional night for the South Sydney number six, losing his mother earlier in the week. The play-maker managed to put his emotions (partially) on hold and was devastating in patches against Newcastle.
Halfback: Shaun Johnson
1 try, 1 try assist, 127 kicking metres
The Kiwi’s little maestro was at his brilliant best setting up one try, having another disallowed and scoring one himself. The Warriors will be hoping his 70th minute exit from the field won’t be long term.
Prop: Shannon Boyd
1 try, 142 metres, 19 tackles
The Green Machine’s hulking beast was superb against the Titans. His 40-post contact metres were no doubt responsible for Canberra’s potent attacking display.
Hooker: Damien Cook
1 try, 39 tackles, 119 metres
The battle for the NSW hooker appears far from over and Brad Fittler can thank the South Sydney nine for his biggest selection headache yet. Whilst Cameron McInnes remains the natural starting choice, if Cook continues his recent run of form then Freddie may have little choice but to select him.
Second-row: Viliame Kikau
7 tackle breaks, 165 metres, 28 tackles
The versatile Panthers forward was enormous against the Cowboys, running for 165 metres. The Fijian international’s tireless work in the middle third of the field went a long way in Penrith very nearly clinching the match.
Lock: Jason Taumalolo
233 metres, 95 post-contact metres, 1 offload
The gigantic Kiwi blew all speculation that he was down on confidence out of the park with a devastating display in Bathurst. He was sorely missed in the 15 minutes that he wasn’t on the field. If the Cows are going to be any sort of a threat in 2018, they’ll need him fit and firing.