The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Once again, the LeagueUnlimited.com Team of the Week has an unorthodox bench - opting for creativity over power or impact. One thing is for sure in this team - the outside backs will definitely not go short of quality ball. Starting halves Josh Reynolds and Mitchell Pearce provide creativity early in the game, and the pain just keeps coming, with Cronk and Widdop providing impact when the opposition starts to tire.
In the forwards, the Broncos strong performance in Round 2 was rewarded, with both Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker getting starting positions. Farah provides some spark and defensive starch from hooker, and the fleet-footed Jamie Buhrer provides some x-factor to lock the scrum.
In the LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Year, Gareth Widdop has streaked out to 6 points on the back of two impressive performances for the St George Illawarra Dragons. Millford is not far behind on 4, while this stage of the season sees massive congestion around the 3 2 and 1 points, as is to be expected.
Fullback: Anthony Milford (Raiders)
Single handedly destroyed both the Knights defence, and their confidence. Every time the Raiders looked to be struggling in attack, they'd flick this bloke the ball and he'd create something out of nothing. Broke 13 tackles, and there were even more than that where the defenders just couldn't get close.
Wing: Anthony Minichiello (Roosters)
Silenced his critics who thought he'd gone one year too long. Broke 7 tackles, made 3 line breaks and scored three tries. Fair enough, it was against Parramatta, but still - not bad for an old man.
Centre: Jarrod Croker (Raiders)
In the rare handful of times Milford wasn't doing it himself, Croker was also a handful for the Knights. Was rewarded for his performance with two tries.
Centre: James Tedesco (Tigers)
Usually a fullback, but we couldn't leave him out of the team. Scored a try, but more importantly had 10 tackle busts for the game, as well as 2 line breaks and 2 try assists.
Wing: Adam Quinlan (Dragons)
From looking at the statistics you wouldn't say Quinlan had an exceptional game, but he was solid under pressure and did well against the big Warriors side. Set up a try and scored one himself.
Five/Eight: Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
Beat out some stiff competition for the 5/8 position this week. Played exactly the sort of game you would expect from a playmaker - Reynolds set up 2 line breaks and 3 tries, ran the ball at the right time, and didn't shirk in defence.
Halfback: Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
Quite the halves pairing this week - not necessarily a tryscoring duo, but their outside backs will definitely not be starved of ball. Pearce had 4 line break assists and 3 try assists, and did his fair share of tackling as well.
Prop: Jesse Bromwich (Storm)
Was tireless in attack for the Storm. Bromwich made 17 runs, the most of any Storm player, and topped the metres tally for his side also.
Hooker: Robbie Farah (Tigers)
Was involved in almost everything for the Tigers - ran for almost 110 metres from 8 runs. Had his forwards on the front foot all game, and made 38 tackles while only missing one. Was part of an extremely effective spine for the Tigers in Round 2.
Prop: Aaron Woods (Tigers)
Set a strong platform for his playmakers to work from.
Second Row: Sam Thaiday (Broncos)
Broke tackles like they were nothing, and was part of a very efficient forward pack for the Broncos, in which 4 of the starting 5 forwards (excluding the hooker) ran for over 100 metres.
Second Row: Corey Parker (Broncos)
Tried valiantly to keep up with McCullough in the "most tackles" stakes, finishing with 43 tackles. Also ran for 120 metres, and led his team well.
Lock: Jamie Buhrer (Sea Eagles)
Had a few minor hiccups in his performance, but on the whole had a great night. His footwork and speed at the line and around the ruck caused problems for the tiring Souths defence, and he was rugged in defence, making 40 tackles.
Interchange 1: Matt Ballin (Sea Eagles)
Interchange 2: Cooper Cronk (Storm)
Interchange 3: Gavin Cooper (Cowboys)
Interchange 4: Gareth Widdop (Dragons)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Year - Leaderboard
6 points - Gareth Widdop
4 points - Anthony Milford
3 points - Greg Inglis, Lachlan Maranta, Josh Mansour, Ben Hampton, Jonathan Thurston, Semi Radradra, Albert Kelly, Peter Wallace, Josh Reynolds, Robbie Farah, Mitchell Pearce, Cooper Cronk, Sam Thaiday, Jamie Buhrer
2 points - Sam Burgess, Andrew McCullough, Sisa Waqa, Jason Taumololo, Trent Merrin, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Bird, Trent Hodkinson, Jarrod Croker, Aaron Woods, Anthony Minichiello, Jesse Bromwich, Adam Quinlan, Corey Parker, Cheyse Blair
1 point - Chris McQueen, Ben Barba, Dean Whare, Young Tonumaipea, Tyson Frizell, Manu Ma'u, Wade Graham, Matt Ballin, Gavin Cooper, Brett Morris, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Tedesco, Tyrone Roberts, Chase Stanley