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An electrifying week 3 of NRL has seen some new faces and some all too familiar ones etch their names into the Round 3 League Unlimited Team of the Week. In an unprecedented turn of events we have seen Johnathan Thurston and Andrew Johns team up in the halves for a third straight week, with both players delivering breathtaking, yet consistent, performances over the past three matches. Wouldn?t it be great to see these two guys in action for Australia in the Anzac Day Test match?
Centre: Mark Gasnier (Dragons) ? Gaz certainly didn?t harm his ever-inflating price tag on Sunday by scoring a treble and creating headaches all day long for a woeful South Sydney, putting his outstanding talent on display for all to see, especially the leather patch brigade.
Centre: Clinton Toopi (Warriors) ? Once upon a time Toopi was regarded as the games? finest three-quarter, and whilst he has yet to recapture that mantle, there were a few glimpses of his former glory on Saturday night with some strong runs. He scored a good try and it?s nice to see him with a smile on his face again.
Wing: Tame Tupou (Broncos) ? This kid has all the potential in the world and then some. It also appears he believes in the theory of the shortest route to the line, even if it involves running over the top of people. Notched up a pair and looked very cosy on the wing.
Five-eighth: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) ? Another confronting 80 minutes from Thurston left most of us wondering how the QLD selectors are going to explain things to Darren Lockyer when he?s not wearing a Maroon jersey with a ?6? on the back of it. Scored 2, kicked 8 for a personal tally of 24 which equalled the record for most number of points in a game for the Cowboys.
Halfback: Andrew Johns (Knights) ? Once again the Architect of Destruction for Newcastle against whoever they play. He?s been copping a few knocks but seems to love it more than ever. The Knights have certainly proved they can score points, with Johns punching 9/10, but there are a few question marks hovering over the defence column.
Second-row: Steven Southern (Cowboys) ? We?ve become used to seeing big Steve Southern putting in swashbuckling performances and Saturday was no exception. A great player to have in your team and makes the opposition pay from the bench.
Second-row: Luke O?Donnell (Cowboys) ? It?s no surprise to see O?Donnell pack down next to his club mate, with the Kangaroo tourist in devastating form against the Storm. Picked up a handy try as well.
Prop: Josh Perry (Knights) ? This young prop is starting to come of age and he stood up to a much stronger pack which included several Internationals. The highlight was his 50m return from a kick-off which saw bodies fly in all directions.
Prop: Ruben Wiki (Warriors) ? The engine room of the Warriors. Wiki hit hard in attack and defence to give the Auckland-based club their first win of the season, setting them on track to climb the -4 point mountain they had in front of them. 2 down, 2 to go.
This bench is well balanced with battering ram Tupou complementing the consistent charges of Price. Add a splash of Stagg for a bit of starch plus the irrepressible Lockyer and there won?t be too many that can stand in the way.
Merkin of the Week Award for Stupidity: This week?s most sought after rugby league award has to go to our mate Geoff Toovey (Sea Eagles trainer). When Toov?s heard about Merkin of the Week down at his local, witnesses say he was distraught at the prospect of never winning the coveted gong that he set about hatching a devilish plan to snare himself a furry nether-wig. Well done Geoff old boy, it certainly is a rare day when you are sent from the field for back-chatting a ref while running water for the team.