The weekly column here at Leagueunlimited is to highlight what we here on the site think are the best players in each round of the 2004 NRL competition. Based on the opinion received from the Leagueunlimited.com live updaters, we have put together what we think is the team of the Round 9...
State of Origin rep games are fast approaching and Round 9 was another good chance for players to impress the selectors. With the City/Country game a hard affair on Friday night, injuries from that game affected the NRL Round 9 games throughout the rest of the weekend. More noticeable was players from the Friday night game backing up for their clubs, and performing very well.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 9:
1. Matt Bowen - Putting his best foot forward for Qld Origin selection, Bowen's performance is what was a dull match between the Warriors and the Cowboys, was the only ray of light up in Townsville on Saturday night. When he was allowed to run he tormented the opposition.
2. Michael De Vere - Notching up 1000 points in first grade is a fine achievement for the Broncos player. And once again he is named in the NSW Origin squad. Being one of the senior players in an understrength Broncos side who faced the Raiders on Sunday, it was up to guys like him to lift the youngsters in the side, and this he did.
3. Brent Tate - Tate since coming back from injury earlier in the year, is getting better as weeks go by. Causing the Raiders defence a lot of strife, Tate also led by example with the younger players in the Broncos side following his lead. His 90 metre run to set up the De Vere try was outstanding.
4. Luke Lewis - Following a fine performance two days earlier for the City Origin side, Lewis fronted up once again in the weekend, when his side defeated the Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon at Penrith Stadium. His hard work must've paid off as he is named in 30 man squad for NSW in the upcoming State of Origin series.
5. John Hopoate - The Sea Eagles stepped up against an injury ravaged Dragons and came away with the goods. Hoppa returning from a month long break, put in a great effort for his team's victory. Looking hungry for work Hopoate helped his captain, Menzies, seal a win in his 250th game.
6. Andrew Walker - Manly coach Des Hasler experimented with moving Walker from fullback to five-eighth and it looked to pay off on Sunday against the Dragons. Walker had a very strong game, especially his kicking, and combined well with halfback Michael Monaghan.
7. Brett Finch - Finch has been going extremely well this year and Saturday evening was no exception as the Roosters kept the Wests Tigers scoreless. A superb try in the match in which he busted the defensive line just shows how versatile the little halfback is.
8. Paul Rauhihi - A fired up Rauhihi on Saturday night against some of his fellow countrymen surely helped the Cowboys to their win over the NZ Warriors in Townsville on Saturday night. He took the ball hard to the defence many times and his crunching tackles caused a lot of strife amongst the Warriors team.
9. Luke Priddis - A good weekend for Priddis. The top tackler for the Country side in the Origin rep match against City, and followed it up with a solid performance on Sunday afternoon against the Rabbitohs. A definite asset to any side.
10. Danny Nutley - A top performance was need by the Sharks to upset the Melbourne Storm at home, and that's exactly what happened. Danny Nutley seemed to have the best game of his season so far in 2004 as he made tackle after tackle tirelessly.The front rower leading the way with 35 tackles, while running for over 200 metres in 25 hit ups.
11. Paul Gallen - In a game in Melbourne that at stages in the match could've gone either way players like Gallen stepped up. Paul Gallen, for the second week in a row was strong for the Sharks and among his side?s best on the night. When it looked like the Storm were hitting back, the forwards knuckled down and did what was needed. A fine effort.
12. Tonie Carroll - Carroll seems to be around for an eternity, but is only 28 years old. His role in the game against the Raiders was very important especially with 5 players under 20 years old in the side. Topping the tackle count with fellow team-mate Ryan. Carroll has one of his best games so far in 2004.
13. Gordon Tallis - The rampaging Broncos captain caused his fair share of mayhem amongst the Raiders defenders on Sunday afternoon when an injury affected Broncos headed down to Canberra on Sunday afternoon. The young guns in the Broncos side followed his lead, and their confidence grew throughout the game
14. Adrian Morley - This tough competitor showed no mercy for the Wests Tigers players as he hammered the Tigers line again and again. Watching the big man make a 50 metre break was a sight to behold.
15. Preston Campbell - The stand-off for the Panthers was in his prime on Sunday afternoon against the Rabbitohs. Darting all over the place he was a menace for the defence as well as not fear in tackling some big players, a great game for Campbell.
16. Kurt Gidley - Kidley played well in the City/Country game, backed up very well in the tough game against the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, and was rewarded for his efforts in being named in the NSW squad. Not a bad few days.
17. Anthony Watmough - One of the fore runners in the Sea Eagles fine win over the Dragons on Sunday afternoon, Watmough was outstanding to say the very least. His defence lifted his side and along with the rest of the team, he well and truely nailed the Dragons.Like