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Another turbo-charged League Unlimited Team of the Week trots out onto the field following Round 8?s play. Disregarding the Sharks? blow-out win over the Panthers, the Storm and Bulldogs both recorded 14-point victories with the other 4 games being decided by six points or less.
Fullback: Greg Inglis (Storm) ? The Storm custodian is in our line-up again after another outstanding performance. One must wonder what Billy Slater is thinking as coach Bellamy seems to have no hesitation in picking a team based on form as opposed to reputation.
Wing: Luke Covell (Sharks) ? There?ll be a few happy campers on our forum regarding this selection. Truth is, Covell was hard to keep out of the team last week and we had a word to him about his form, letting him know he was close to selection. Well he didn?t disappoint us, bagging a double and kicking 6/7 as the Sharks romped home against the Panthers.
Centre: Adam MacDougall (Rabbitohs) ? Mad Dog had a very strong game against a more fancied opposition who seemed to think they could just turn up. That certainly wasn?t the case and if he had one more metre to work with on the eastern side late in the game he might have forced extra time. Scored a good try.
Centre: Justin Hodges (Brisbane) ? We?ve all been talking about how Hodgo has been a bit hard done by with the Australian selectors and few can dispute this claim. He?s in top gear right now, scoring a great try and proving to be the difference against the Raiders. It?s always hard to oust the incumbents from a Test side though.
Wing: Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs) ? Once again our favourite Bulldog showed us why he regularly makes the grade here at LU with a brace of four-pointers and five goals for a personal tally of 18. Along with our other goal-kicking whiz on the wing, LU?s scoresheet is looking pretty hard to beat this week.
Five-eighth: Adam Dykes (Sharks) ? Dykesy?s loving life right now and we?ve put him at stand-off for this match. Sometimes you only see a player?s best form when you let him run things his way and that?s exactly what?s happened here. Noddy?s in the same boat as Slater and things will be interesting when he returns.
Halfback: Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) ? Ox had a wowser at no.7 for the Sea Eagles as they overcame a 14-point deficit to dispatch the Eels to the Paddington end boundary. We?re glad to see him playing great footy again after a slothful beginning to the season, booting 3/4 and the all important field goal.
Lock: Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles) ? BK?s nickname should be Rexona ? he never let?s you down. Again we?ve got him at the base of the scrum all revved up to make a million tackles and bash people in defence. Look out New Zealand!
Second-row: Lance Thompson (Sharks) ? Thommo had his best game for the Sharks this season, backing up his stellar effort last week. He?s popping great balls, tackling his heart out enjoying his footy. I?m sure there will be a few keen observers as he goes around against his former club this week.
Second-row: Alan Tongue (Raiders) ? We?ve got another blood-nut in the backrow with Tongue playing some cracking footy. He barged his way over for a gritty try and seems to do it every week. He gets through an awful lot of work and will prove a useful foil in this pack.
Prop: Roy Asotasi (Bulldogs) ? Big Roy had another super game against his countrymen in New Zealand, scoring an opportunistic try and leading from the front all day long. He?ll be busting to get out there on Friday night and mix it with the Aussies.
Hooker: Danny Buderus (Knights) ? Just in case it was clear, Bedsy proved once again that he?s the best rake in the NRL. When the chips were down he rose to occasion, adding the match-winning try to his earlier effort during the game. He?s priceless.
Prop: Corey Parker (Broncos) ? Corey Parker has been a surprise packet this season and without much fuss either. He toils away up front and provides strong support to Webcke and Civoniceva. His feats with the boot haven?t gone unnoticed either, potting 4 important goals against the Raiders.
Interchange: Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles), Steve Simpson (Knights), David Fa?alogo (Rabbitohs), Nathan Fien (Warriors).
A sensational bench here with Menzies and Simpson adding plenty of finesse to the team when they come on, leaving the impact to be made by Fa?alogo, who is in the running to be the next wrecking-ball the game has produced. Fien provides some cleverness around the rucks, with his kicking game a feature of late.
Karmichael Hunt and the incorruptible Australian Selectors step onto the podium in this week?s Merkin presentation, covering themselves in folly. Win lose or draw, the decision to play the Broncos fullback will long be remembered for its controversy, rather than its worthiness.
Let?s not forget about Brett Finch though. He must have lain awake at nights, longing for an opportunity to grasp the Merkin. And boy did he know his time had come when someone stuck a camera in front of him. The fans would like to know if you?ll be wearing your new prize as they line-up to kiss your arse, Bretty-boy?