You’ll notice that the game’s best front rower, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, is missing from this week’s rankings.
“But how,” you ask? “Doesn’t this go off the totality of performance over a season?”
Well yes it does. But we don’t include players who didn’t play in that round. The reason being that we’ll name the 26 Rounds Player of the Year based on these rankings. Think of them as a scoring system, like a reverse Dally Ms.
Being ranked number one in one week will get you a point, ranked two will get you two and so on. At the end of the season we will tally these points and divide them but the number of weeks we’ve had rankings. The person with the lowest score is the 26 Rounds Player of the Year.
The idea behind this is that we will find the best player through their consistent performances throughout the year rather than through bursts of golden performances mixed with poor ones. It’s brilliant and I literally just made this up as I was typing.
So Jared – while not playing this week – can still win as it will go on average but he will start from the bottom as this will be the leveller for players who play fewer games than the rest.
Before you scream bloody murder, this WON’T be the rule during Origin as players who’ve been selected will maintain a nominal rank – and besides, the Roosters will be without Origin players for just one week this year.
On with the show.
1. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 4)
To understand how good Mitchell Pearce has been in the past two weeks, you only have to look at the quality of the competition he’s faced who he’s come out on top against on both occasions.
Against Manly he directed the club around like a madam directing around a bunch of swingers at a bondage party, and to fit the poor analogy he even found a hole for himself against the second-stingiest defensive team in the competition at a true graveyard for the Roosters, Brookvale Oval.
Against North Queensland, after a quick turnaround in horrible weather and in the face of insipid refereeing he set up two tries with two of the best passes this season. Coach Trent Robinson told the post-match press conference that his ability to play in the line is among the best in the league, and his last two weeks have proven it. Against the Cows his two passes were while he was attacking the line, and it looks as though he’s figured out how to use those decoys to perfection.
He ran it only twice but had two try assists from clean line breaks from his runners, while he made 25 tackles in a game where there were a ton of them.
2. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 2)
Sonny Bill put work in against the Cowboys, and if it wasn’t for superb play from his halfback he’d be number one this week.
We are used to watching games where Sonny Bill has four offloads and cutouts for wingers, around the corner passes and tries scored from nothing. When he doesn’t do those things, we think he has had a quiet game.
We’d be wrong.
Against the Cowboys he was superb and was far and away the best forward on ground, with 32 tackles, 19 hit-ups, 176 metres, three offloads and two tackle busts. Keep in mind those offloads came in terrible conditions but were the right play each time, and that’s the beauty of SBW: he plays what’s in front of him. If the offload is there, he offloads. If the cutout’s on, he’ll throw it. And if he needs to be a decoy he’ll be one.
3. James Maloney (LW: 1)
The BBQ is one of the toughest little fuckers in the league. Against the Cowboys he played the last 20 minutes with a bloody face that wouldn’t quit, and all night he had to deal with Tariq Sims and the like on the left edge.
He didn’t break the line again or score a try which, given his skill set, is officially a drought. But he’s making up for it in other areas. He kicked 10 times on the rare occasions the Roosters got to the end of the set and made 332 metres. He ran it seven times for 51 metres with four tackle busts to go with 16 tackles.
4. Boyd Cordner (LW: 6)
He only played 50 minutes against the Cows but they were 50 very effective minutes. He had 29 tackles and seven runs for 63 metres. What he doesn’t get in made metres he makes up for with quick play the balls, enabling Friend and Mortimer to get the team on a roll against a retreating defence.
He was close to Man of the Match against the Sea Eagles and is in fine form heading into the Origin period. Is it enough to get a call up for his state though?
5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 7)
It’s hard not to gush over this kid’s talent. It is very rare these days to get a player whose talent has no ceiling, but RTS is one such athlete.
He had another break this week that left jaws agape, leaving Jonathan Thurston in his wake before sprinting downfield for a bombed try. When he figures it all out – when to pass, when to take them on – the sky is the only thing that could limit what he could do barring injury.
He ran it in this one 16 times for 173 metres with five tackle busts to go along with another line break. Simply put, he is one of the best young players in the game along with the player just above him in the rankings.
6. Michael Jennings (LW: 5)
Jenko ran it just five times against the Cows for 36 minutes but through no fault of his own: Aubo was inside him and running perfect lines, so MP7 went to him repeatedly while the remainder of the time the Roosters kept dropping it.
This is a strength of this squad, insofar that they have the luxury of attacking weaknesses rather than hoping their strike weapons can step up.
He still managed four tackle busts in just five runs, and made 12 tackles with just his fourth miss of the season. He did have two errors, but he was hardly alone in that area in atrocious rain.
7. Mitchell Aubusson (LW: 8)
Aubo played the game we all know he can play: perfect line-running, half-gap making and solid but not bruising defence in 80 minutes against the Cowboys.
He had just five runs but they were all quality for 47 metres, including a trademark line-running try. He also made 37 tackles without a miss. He hits as hard as my mother but certainly makes more tackles around the legs. He is in great form.
8. Jake Friend (LW: 9)
Friendy returned to what we know him for. Tackle counts in the 50s.
He made 52 tackles in 63 minutes without a miss against North Queensland and ran it three times for 26 metres. In his past three games he’s made 122 tackles and missed just one.
He’s as tough as a three-day old horse turd, and much more enjoyable to see. But after 122 tackles in three weeks, he might smell just as bad.
9. Anthony Minichiello (LW: NR)
This was Mini’s best game of the year. His kick returns and positional play were first class, he broke the line cleanly for the game’s first try and almost set up a try for The Sheck with a pretty little grubber in the second half.
He ran it 14 times for 109 metres with a line break, a try, four tackle busts, an offload, four tackles and just one error in a game filled with them.
10. Luke O’Donnell (LW: NR)
Not only did LO’D run it 15 times for 128 metres in his first game as a front rower, he also headbutted the prominent chin of James Tamou who had the audacity to dare tackle him.
Daniel Tupou, who falls out following three errors against the Cows; and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who narrowly misses out after a very strong defensive showing despite being repeatedly targeted by Thurston who aimed Kane Linnett at him all game.