The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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It?s never easy picking a team pre-Origin, especially when three clubs have the bye, but despite the best 34 Australian players being unavailable this week the quality of matches was relatively high. With a few upsets thrown in for good measure, the Round 11 League Unlimited Team of the Week has a fresh feel about it.
Fullback: Brent Webb (Warriors) ? Webby has been in solid form recently and played his best game of the season, carving up from the back with several good runs and a scintillating try to cap a great performance.
Wing: Brian Carney (Knights) ? Whilst one of his meat pies was pretty dodgy, and we?ll get to that later, Carney was everywhere against the Raiders and he has proved to be a quality purchase for Newcastle. He never stops when he?s got the ball in his mitts.
Centre: Iosia Soliola (Roosters) ? Iosia is developing into quite the attacking player. He?s big, fast and has some decent hands on him providing plenty of options out wide for the Roosters.
Centre: Adam MacDougall (Rabbitohs) ? Mad Dog was like a bee in a bottle against the Roosters, buzzing about and popping up everywhere. He had a hand in one try and scored another sparkling individual effort just before halftime to keep the Bunnies in the contest.
Wing: Matt Utai (Bulldogs) ? Utai crossed for a brace out at Homebush and he is slowly recapturing his best form. The nuggetty winger looks more comfortable outside Holdsworth, and Sherwin?s return helped things as well.
Five-eighth: Luke Lewis (Panthers) ? A surprise packet here. I had my doubts over Lewis at stand-off but he handled the position with aplomb. He got involved plenty of times against the Eels on Friday night and he might yet find himself in a Blue jersey.
Halfback: Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) ? Ox stamped his class against the Storm with a 5-star effort. Many people will point to Melbourne being vastly under strength but Manly were missing a few regulars as well and proved that they can win without BK.
Second-row: Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) ? Watmough has been a bit quiet this season but I think he had a good?un against the Storm. He carted the ball up and got through a mountain of defence which was needed given Kennedy, Menzies and Kite were all missing.
Second-row: Paul Gallen (Sharks) ? The rising star in the current crop of League backrowers. Gallen is big, mobile, hits hard and can offload as well. It comes as little surprise that Cronulla won 4 in a row with him on deck.
Prop: Evarn Tuimavave (Warriors) ? Another dark horse, but Evarn deserved it. He stood up for the Warriors with captain Steve Price in the Maroons camp and held his composure well. He found his was over the stripe and would no doubt be on Brian McClennan?s radar.
Hooker: Luke Priddis (Panthers) ? Priddo guided the Panthers superbly against the Eels, scoring a double and creating plenty of headaches for the opposition. It?s no surprise to see him on standby for Bedsy.
Prop: Fuifui Moimoi (Eels) ? What a sensation Fuifui has become. He?s making breaks and hurting in defence, it?s a shame the rest of Parra can?t heed his example. Lately he?s been crossing the chalk pretty regularly and he didn?t disappoint against Penrith.
A strong bench here and it would have a few teams trembling in their boots. Tupou hits hard with a good offload whilst Shillington takes it up all day long. Faumuina has no respect for his body, constantly hurling himself at the defence and Tanner rounds out the mix with a bit of brains.
Merkin of the Week Award for Stupidity: The Forward Pass Fiasco up at Newcastle with referee Jason Robinson and touchies Jason Walsh and Jeff Younis takes centre stage this week. The refs simply couldn?t handle being left out of the awards ceremony in Round 10 so they had to find a way to get back in the headlines, and boy did they ever! It conjured memories of Team USA in the World Sevens back in the 90?s.