Gareth Widdop

The first round of the NRL season was full of close games, individual brilliance, constant surprises and a great start to what promises to be a magnificent season of rugby league.

  1. Greg Inglis
  2. Josh Mansour
  3. Jarryd Hayne
  4. Dale Copley
  5. Semi Radradra
  6. Johnathan Thurston
  7. Gareth Widdop
  8. Sam Burgess
  9. Cameron Smith
  10. Corey Parker
  11. Josh Papalii
  12. Jason Taumalolo
  13. Manu Ma’u
  14. Albert Kelly
  15. George Burgess
  16. Tyson Frizell
  17. Nathan Peats

Greg Inglis scored a superb hat-trick as the South Sydney Rabbitohs showed off their premiership credentials. It was a magnificent start to the year and only expect more of the same from Inglis.  Josh Mansour found the line twice, one of them coming from a spectacular, acrobatic effort as the Penrith Panthers brushed past a Newcastle Knights side that struggled after suffering injuries to crucial players during the game. Mansour looks set for a breakout season and has the finishing ability to go along with his powerhouse running game. Semi Radradra was a menace down the left edge and crossed for three tries as the Parramatta Eels start the season with a bang. The flying Fijian showed off his speed, strength, athleticism and his improved understanding of the game on Sunday night. Jarryd Hayne may not have played in the centres but after a superb performance against the New Zealand Warriors he warrants selection in the 17.  He was lethal running the second man play and rock solid at the back as always. He also taught defenders a lesson about standing off him when ran across the entire field with ease and very nearly scored. Dale Copley was solid in defense and a constant threat in attack when the Brisbane Broncos started 2014 with a win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. His performance backed up a good showing in the NRL Nines and he’s well on his way to cementing a spot in the Brisbane Broncos side.

Gareth Widdop was pivotal as the St George Illawarra Dragons broke the 40 point barrier for the first time in four years. Not many find success after leaving the Melbourne Storm but if anyone can break the chain it’s Widdop. Johnathan Thurston was the player of the round, he spurred on a comeback as the North Queensland Cowboys recovered from a hefty deficit to overcome the Canberra Raiders. He was putting his body on the line in defense and was typically brilliant with the ball in hand. He guided his team around and displayed moments of individual brilliance.

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Sam Burgess answered his critics with a great round 1 showing and the Rabbitohs defeated the Sydney Roosters 30-8 in the season opener. It was a typical Burgess performance as he provided both quality and quantity going forward and in defense. Coming off what was arguably a career best year the decision to move Corey Parker to prop was slightly puzzling. He was seemingly unfazed however as he put in a typically workmanlike performance and had the Broncos on the front foot all night. Cameron Smith got the chance to display one of his best attributes on Saturday, a cool head under pressure. After an early Manly Sea Eagles onslaught Smith stayed cool, he was naturally outstanding in defense and led his team around brilliantly. He had his moments in attack and of course kicked the winning field goal in extra time.

Josh Papalii and Jason Taumalolo went head to head as Raiders and Cowboys met on Saturday night. They were both absolutely sensational, Taumalolo looks set for a huge 2014 after being trusted with a starting role and Josh Papalii justified his selection in the Australian side with an all round spectacular performance. Manu Ma’u introduced himself to the NRL with a dynamic debut as he as he dominated the Warriors pack. He found his way through the line on multiple occasions and is an early contender for the rookie of the year award.

On this weeks bench we have Albert Kelly, who was excellent in attack in the Gold Coast Titans win over the Cronulla Sharks and got a chance to show his scintillating speed after an intercept off his line. He’s accompanied by George Burgess who put away thoughts of second year syndrome with a bulldozing display against the Roosters. Tyson Frizell went under the radar last year and many don’t know he’s only 22. There was no danger of that this week as he ran powerfully against the Dragons and got his reward by finding the line twice. Nathan Peats showed why he deserved more than being a back up hooker with a commanding display against the Warriors. He was a rock in defense, got the Eels forwards the best service they’ve had in years and was a leader on the field.

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