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After a sensation weekend of NRL action, we?re happy to present the Round 1 League Unlimited Team of the Week. And oh boy, it?s a cracker!
Fullback: Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders) ? He looks bigger and fitter this year. His kicking was terrific as usual and beat the first man most times from the kick-return. A great choice as the new captain.
Wing: Amos Roberts (Roosters) ? Mossy bagged a double for the Roosters in a controversial game out at Telstra. He a genuine speedster with plenty of ball skills and a favourite with the fans.
Centre: Mark Gasnier (Dragons) ? Showed he?s all class with the ball in his hand. The Tigers couldn?t contain Gaz, who scored a treble, and he has begun the season in menacing form.
Centre: Paul Whatuira (Tigers) ? The silent hero for Wests on Friday night. He popped up everywhere, bagging a hat-trick and showing why he?s in the Team of the Week. A very under-rated player who manages to slip under the radar and get the work done.
Wing: Brian Carney (Knights) ? The Irishman?s first game in the NRL was a good ?un, scoring a try and proving very hard to contain. He looks a very solid purchase for the Knights and should provide good service this year.
Five-eighth: Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys) ? What can you say about this kid? Unbelievable match from Thurston who?s going the right way about displacing Darren Lockyer as the Queensland five-eighth. Scored three meat pies, kicked six goals and had a hand in everything.
Halfback Andrew Johns (Knights) ? The old stager returned to footy in triumphant circumstances after having an operation on his knee in the off-season. He should steer clear of the fisticuffs though, he?s already proven himself a novice in that arena.
Lock: Travis Norton (Cowboys) ? The retiring captain of the Cowboys had a solid game on the weekend against arch-rivals the Broncos, steering the ship when necessary. I?m sure he?s pumped for another big season and a possible premiership.
Second-row: Willie Mason (Bulldogs) ? The Doggies may have gone down but Big Willie put up a good fight. He had a superb game and appears to be relishing a more senior role.
Second-row: Ben Jones (Raiders) ? Hardly a household name, Jonesy put in for the Raiders as they toppled the more fancied Sea Eagles at ?Fortress? Brooky. He?ll be a mainstay if he continues that sort of form.
Prop: John Skandalis (Tigers) ? Another unsung hero of the Tigers. Skando turns up each week and just loves copping it. His work-rate is to be admired for an old guy and he provides a cool head for the forwards when experience is called for.
Hooker: Aaron Payne (Cowboys) ? Had a blinder and just edged out Simon Woolford here for Hooker of the Week. Brutality was certainly dished out by the truckload against Brisbane and the stoutly no.9 was carving up all day long.
Prop: Craig Smith (Knights) ? Smithy packs in with Skando, proving age is no barrier in this competition. I thought he was great this week and appears to have really settled into a rhythm at Newcastle.
Interchange: Benji Marshall (Tigers), Grant Rovelli (Warriors), Steve Southern (Cowboys), Anthony Tupou (Roosters) ? Plenty of impact here and flamboyance here on the bench. Marshall?s freakish feats are welcome, along with Rovelli who was a hit for the Warriors when he came on the field. Southern and Tupou add huge firepower to the interchange bench here.
Merkin of the Week Award for Stupidity: Jason Ryles (Dragons) ? Rylesy decided to go on a one-man journey to Planet Brain Explosion, helping out the Tigers forwards and earning himself 10 in the bin. He?s gets the first Merkin of 2006 ? wear it with pride buddy!