While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Drama was the name of the game as Round 23 drew to a conclusion on Sunday amid all sorts of shenanigans. Refereeing blunders, blow-ups, injuries and suspensions dominated the weekend with the top 8 done and dusted but the make-up still very much in the air. So all things considered we?ve rolled out the finest 17 for the Round 23 League Unlimited Team of the Week.
Fullback: Luke Burt (Eels) ? What a pleasant surprise Luke Burt has been. After his re-emergence from the reggies this fella has stolen a bit of Jarryd Hayne?s mojo by piling on the points at will. He tied up down south with two tries and five goals in an explosive display.
Wing: Sam Perrett (Roosters) ? Another young rookie winger who?s shown he can foot it in the top grade. Perrett has been feasting on meat pies recently, picking up a triple for his efforts against the Cowboys at the weekend.
Centre: Justin Hodges (Broncos) ? We?ve stuck Hodgo in his usual position this week despite the fact he was at the back for most of the match. This only displays his versatility as he had another wow of a game against the table-topping Storm. He is the Bronco?s ?go-to? man these days.
Centre: Matt King (Storm) ? Kingy was barnstorming against the Broncos as the Storm pulled off a Houdini act to continue their impressive winning streak. He scored a good try and made several powerful runs whilst defending solidly all day.
Wing: Steve Turner (Storm) ? He might not know where he?ll be playing next year but he sure knew his way to the try-line against the Broncos on the weekend. Scored a good try and engaged in several damaging runs against the Broncos.
Five-eighth: Travis Burns (Sea Eagles) ? A tough little fella who never takes a backward step, Burns is maturing well as a first grader and can certainly hold his own. He played well in Manly?s controversial win over the Knights as they head towards the top 4.
Halfback: Josh Lewis (Roosters) ? I thought we?d give this guy a go this week even though it means quite a small halves combination. Lewis is playing well after only a handful of first grade games, leading the Roosters around the park capably, bagging the odd try and knocking over goals when asked.
Lock: Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs) ? Sonny Bill is going great guns right now, coming off the bench and running wide, wreaking havoc on defenders. He can change a game at will and with players hanging back to see what he does there could be no stopping him. He manhandled the Dragons on Sunday.
Second-row: Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs) ? Unlike his flashier teammate Sonny Bill, Bobcat goes out and does the job without receiving too many accolades. But he tackles his guts out and runs hard all day long to get the Doggies over the advantage line and in a position to attack.
Second-row: Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels) ? In a role reversal, an Eel tore apart the Sharks on Saturday night when Hindy got stuck into Cronulla. He?s like the Energizer Bunny and continually puts in all he?s got in the tank despite rumours his knee isn?t 100%.
Prop: Willie Mason (Bulldogs) ? Another Bulldogs that monstered the Dragons on Sunday. Mason has led a remarkable turnaround in his game this year, becoming a role model over at Canterbury and it?s being reflected on the field. He troubled Saints all day long, scoring a try and proving difficult to put on the ground.
Hooker: Lance Hohaia (Warriors) ? Lance comes off the bench most weeks but we?re going to give him a starting run here. Scoring two tries and kicking three goals, Hohaia was pivotal in the Warriors thumping of the Cowboys at home in a game that essentially put the Cowboys to bed for 2006.
Prop: Steve Price (Warriors) ? Another Warrior who could hold his head high, grafting away at the Cowboys all day long. Price is the perfect foil for the devastating Mason in the front row, providing solid go-forward and smarts around the ruck area.
A versatile bench here with Rapira and Tongue adding some grunt up front and Gallen and Fitzy offering plenty of yards through the middle of the ruck.
Merkin of the Week Award for Stupidity: Andrew Johns is the envy of the NRL this week, earning a Merkin for his outburst on Friday night. He?s carried on like a pork chop for a little while now and whilst I think the punishment is a bit extreme for the crime, you simply can?t go around swearing at officials in that manner?no matter who you are. If this brings his career to an end I will still have the memories of his brilliant feats over the past few years, but I won?t miss the whinger he?s turned into lately.