1. Matt Moylan – Penrith Panthers
Cool under pressure, the 23-year-old again provided a master-class last night. Not only did Moylan slot the winning field goal in the dying stages of the Panthers’ 11-10 win over Manly at Brookvale, his kick-return and defence were perfect.
2. James McManus – Newcastle Knights
The Knights returned to the winner’s circle this week, thanks largely to a gutsy performance from former NSW winger James McManus. The veteran flank-man chipped in with 140 metres, a line break and a classy four-pointer.
3. Jamie Lyon – Manly
Despite the loss, the Manly captain was superb. Solid in defence and classy in attack, the Jamie Lyon of old returned to Brookvale last night.
4. Joey Leilua – Newcastle Knights
Playing on the back of news he will no longer be a part of the Knights squad as of 2016, Leilua sent a strong message to rival clubs that he still has plenty to offer on the field. The giant three-quarter produced the best individual performance of the Round 10 fixtures. Leilua’s 130 metres, one line break, two offloads and a try has left everyone in the Hunter Valley scratching their heads as to why coach Rick Stone is letting him go at season’s end.
5. Jason Nightingale – St George Illawarra Dragons
At 28, Nightingale is no spring chicken. Our game is witnessing the new dynamic of super-athletic wingers, with acrobatic finishes that wouldn’t look out of place in the Moscow Circus; not only is the 24-Test veteran easily competing with his younger rivals, he still sets the standard very high.
6. Gareth Widdop – St George Illawarra Dragons
The Pommy playmaker outclassed the Raiders’ defence on Sunday with a mesmerising display. A 16-point haul ensured the Dragons moved back into equal first with the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos on 14 competition points.
7. Johnathon Thurston (c) – North Queensland Cowboys
You can almost set your clock to it. As soon as Origin looms, the future Immortal slips into a class of his own. Thurston was instrumental in his side’s 31-20 win over ‘big brother’ Brisbane on Friday night.
8. Jesse Bromwich –Melbourne Storm
He is among the game’s best ‘metre-eaters’, but offers so much more. Bromwich helped his side continue Souths’ awful record in Mexico with a stunning 204 metres and a barnstorming try. The Kiwi Test star typifies the ‘future front-rower’ profile.
9. Jake Friend – Sydney Roosters
Widely tipped as the heir apparent to Cameron Smith in both the Queensland and Australian sides, the Noosa product proved why on Friday Night. Three offloads, 43 tackles and two try assists helped the boys from Bondi cruise past the Dogs.
10. Ben Matulino – New Zealand Warriors
A very tough performance from the giant prop – and that’s exactly what was required as the Warriors again scraped home in the dying stages. Matulino charged for a gritty 165 metres and produced five offloads.
11. Tyson Frizell – St George Illawarra Dragons
Probably the unluckiest player of those left out by NSW coach Laurie Daley for Origin I. Frizell’s incredible performance on the weekend has the entire Blues backrow on notice.
12. Tariq Sims – Newcastle Knights
Sims has settled well in Newcastle. After a disruptive start to the season through a 2014 finals suspension, the Blues hopeful, along with Frizell, will have plenty of Laurie’s men on their toes following the series opener on May 27.
13. Simon Mannering – New Zealand Warriors
Three weeks running the Kiwi captain has featured in my team of the week, and with 170 metres, 51 tackles and a line-break, is it any wonder? Mannering is all class.