Anthony Milford

Round 2 of the 2014 NRL season was all about the fullback, with two young guns and one veteran setting the bar high.

  1. Anthony Milford
  2. Pat Richards
  3. Anthony Minichiello
  4. Jarrod Croker
  5. Brett Morris
  6. Luke Brooks
  7. Trent Hodkinson
  8. Ben Matulino
  9. Robbie Farah
  10. George Burgess
  11. Mitchell Aubusson
  12. Trent Merrin
  13. Shaun Fensom
  14. James Tedesco
  15. Corey Parker
  16. Andrew McCullough
  17. James Graham

It’s going to be tough trying to come up with superlatives to describe Anthony Milford for the next 10 years as his NRL career hits greater heights. He’s a rare talent and there’s so much room for improvement left that it’s almost scary.  He danced through the Newcastle Knights defense with ease on several occasions and was simply dazzling as he propelled them to victory. Pat Richards was seen as a slightly odd purchase for the Wests Tigers, the Tigers have plenty of young talent already in the backline and many felt the money could have more wisely spent. However, Richard’s return to the NRL has been quite something, he’s scored 3 tries, broke the line 4 times and scored 34 points in two games. If his spiral bomb in round 1 was entertaining, his drop out that went 70 metres on the fly was simply astonishing. Brett Morris ran 213 metres, broke four tackles and scored one of the tries of his career in a fantastic display in the St George Illawarra Dragons win over the New Zealand Warriors. The Dragons have had a great start to 2014 and even from the wing Brett Morris is one of their key players.

Many were shocked to hear that Minichiello’s hatrick against the Parramatta Eels on Saturday night was his first. He’s scored well over 100 tries throughout his decorated career and his hatrick was well deserved. He spent time not only at fullback but also on the wing to allow young gun Tuivasa Sheck to roam free in the middle and despite the Eels pathetic defense it was a very good performance from Minichiello. Jarrod Croker scored two tries and laid on another in a brilliant display against the Knights. He was carrying a niggling injury that prevent him from kicking goals but you wouldn’t have known it as he had a field day against the Knights’ defense.

Luke Brooks has played three NRL games and has been absolutely brilliant in two. He and James Tedesco showed the rugby league world their almost telepathic connection as they tore apart a very flat Knights side. Brooks set up three tries and scored a beauty of his own in a performance that reaffirmed any doubt of him not yet being NRL standard. Trent Hodkinson also recovered from a relatively poor round 1 performance with a try and three assists against a lethargic Cronulla Sharks. He was also on perfect form with the boot as he kicked a perfect 7 from 7 conversions.

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The Dragons forwards dominated the Warriors and it would’ve been a lot worse if not for Ben Matulino. He ran 162 metres with the ball in hand and somehow squeezed out 6 offloads. It was a superb performance but unfortunately for him he was fighting a dying battle. Robbie Farah was not only a workhorse but also a creator as the Tigers ran rampant over the Gold Coast Titans. Farah broke the line twice, set up a try, ran 105 metres and also made 39 tackles in an all round marvelous performance. George Burgess ran 174 metres, broke four tackles and made twenty tackles in just 50 minutes against a physical Manly pack. It wasn’t quite enough to get the South Sydney Rabbitohs over the line but it was what is becoming known as a typical George Burgess display.

Mitchell Aubusson tormented the Eels with two tries, a try assist and eight tackle busts. His phenomenal hole running was on show as he breezed through the Eels shirt-grabbing defense. He played all 80 minutes and will still command plenty of minutes upon SBW’s return to the fray. Trent Merrin is fast establishing himself as one of the NRL’s premier forwards and another fabulous display against the Warriors didn’t hurt. His offload is as effective and prominent as almost any and he gets through a mountain of work every week, expect him to be a team of the week regular in 2014. Shaun Fensom remains the NRL’s biggest workhorse, he ran 112 metres from 20 tough carries and made a staggering 52 tackles. He also provided impact with three offloads and three tackle busts. He’s irreplaceable for Canberra and should at least enter discussions for Origin.

James Tedesco has been one of the revelations of the NRL’s first two rounds and it might hurt the Tigers, as he appears to be the subject of a bidding war between the Roosters and the Bulldogs. One of the NRL’s hottest prospects put in a 5 star performance on the weekend as he scored, set up and saved tries with his partner in crime Luke Brooks. Corey Parker played 72 minutes against an unforgiving North Queensland Cowboys pack and was pivotal in the Brisbane Broncos making it two wins from two to start the season. He was good with the ball as always running 115m and made a very solid 42 tackles. Andrew McCullough has had an unexpectedly wonderful start to the year and continued that 52 tackles and match winning try against the Cowboys. The battle between Jake Friend and McCullough as the heir to Cameron Smith’s Queensland and Australia throne is heating up. James Graham was excellent against Cronulla as he helped lay the platform for the outside men to do their thing. He ran and tackled hard in his 50 minutes on the field and helped string together set plays as well.

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