The Weekly Sydney Roosters Player Rankings, Rd 15

We wrote a while back that Origin players would not slip or lose their spot in the rankings if they had to miss a game to representative commitments, and we here at 26 Rounds stand by the rule.

Which is a shame, because we may have seen a winger climb all the way to second spot on his way to fully fledged superstardom.


1. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 1)

Source: ABC.

Source: ABC.

His first half against the Dogs was as quiet as Anne Frank but he exploded in the second half with five tackle busts, a line break and two offloads, one of which led indirectly to SKD’s second try when he flicked it out back to The Sheck who weaved some absolute magic.

This writer asked in the review of that game if SBW needs to be considered the greatest utility player ever; going back through all the great utilities and it’s hard to see anyone there who can play exceptionally well at four positions (lock, five-eighth, second row and centre) the way this guy could.

The only ones this writer can think of are Brad Fittler (lock, five-eighth and centre), Greg Inglis (fullback, centre and five-eighth) and Ben Jones (just kidding) as the players who can even come close to dominating in three different positions — and Greg Inglis never dominated at five-eighth the way this guy can, while God wasn’t mature enough to dominate during his days as a centre the way SBW once did.

And both players couldn’t play four positions, let alone play them exceptionally well.

This is not to say that SBW is better than those two players; this is more an observation on the incredible versatility of one of the game’s true stars.

2. Michael Jennings (LW: 2)

(Holds his spot from last week thanks to Origin selection)

3. James Maloney (LW: 3)

(Holds his spot from last week thanks to Origin selection)

4. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 4)

(Holds his spot from last week thanks to Origin selection)

5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 5)

Source: Zimbio.

If it wasn’t for his Origin teammates maintaining nominal rankings under the archaic rules handed down from the 26 Rounds founding fathers, The Sheck could very well have found himself higher than fifth spot.

His game against the Bulldogs was one of the great winger’s games this year — its hard to think of another winger who has been more dominant or more impressive. he had 20 runs for 170 metres with six tackle busts, a try assist, a line break and an indeterminable number of diffused attacking raids off kicks.

He and SBW form a rare combination out on the right, the winger and the centre combining repeatedly this year, including against the Dogs. After a half break by SBW, he flicked the ball out wide to RTS who put on a hypnotic performance with his feet, leaving poor Tim Lafai standing rigid like a young virgin who’d just seen his first boobie.

He stepped left, he stepped right, but didn’t really step; instead, he straightened and blew past the statuesque Lafai before bumping off Barba and sending SKD over.

All that was left after it was for The Sheck to teach this writer how to Dougie:

Source: Tumblr

6. Boyd Cordner (LW: 8)

Source: News.

It’s games like this that make Origin selection committees take notice. Boyd Cordner was outstanding with two tries from inch-perfect hole-running, along with four tackle busts, 12 runs for 84 metres and 37 tackles with three misses in an 80-minute performance.

He provides the attitude and leadership in the forwards, firing them up when need be, and is often the reason for the Roosters getting a role on through quick play the balls or passing just before the line.

7. Sam Moa (LW: 7)

Sam Moa was a bit quieter in this one after being elevated to the starting squad following a strong return against the Warriors. In 46 minutes he had 10 runs for 84 metres with 22 tackles. But we can’t discount the fact the Roosters are simply a better team when he is on the field.

Other teams want nothing to do with tackling the big unit, and every run hurts the other team’s defence.

He’s built like a fridge and there’s no doubt in my mind he’d consume most of what’s in mine if given the chance.

8. Daniel Mortimer (LW: NR)

Source: NRL.

Daniel Mortimer stepped into the breach with Mitchell Pearce out and performed better than he ever did as the starting five-eighth at Parramatta. He threw two nice short balls for Boyd Cordner who ran the perfect angled run both times, and his kicking game was solid and consistent.

He ran it four times for 30 metres and almost scored twice: once off a scrambling run to the line and another in support of SBW’s line break, while he also kicked 16 times for 492 metres.

He did miss five tackles including one for Barba’s try, but he wouldn’t be the first halfback to be left in the fullback’s wake grasping at ghosts. He is a deserving co-Man of the Match with RTS and was simply superb shepherding the forwards around the field like a bunch of Lemmings in the perfect imitation of Mitch — which this writer didn’t even think was remotely possible.

I questioned his passing game when compared to MP7 with a debate on Twitter with @tempewaters, and while I stand corrected (and as @tempewaters points out, I should eat some humble pie), I also stand by the idea that MP7 does not get the credit for his passing game that he deserves.

Those two passes Morts threw for Cordner? Mitch has been doing that all year much to the criticism of many a Roosters fan who demand he be something he’s not. He’s supposed to be the best bits of Reynolds, Cherry-Evans and Cronk rolled into one 24-year-old package, but he is what he is: a solid kicker with a great in-the-line pass, a fantastic short and long passer, a strong defender and more creative than anyone gives him credit for.

He had a poor game against the Warriors, his fifth tackle options were off — but he was hardly the only one. And he still managed that lovely touch-pass to Moa for the break and the final pass in the line to Sonny Bill. This writer wonders if any other halfback did those things he’d cop a bit more credit than MP7 ever receives.

However, this is not to take away anything from what Morts did against the Dogs. He was sensational, and this writer stands corrected of the notion that we might struggle with MP7 out. Morts has improved out of sight since coming aboard at Bondi, and even the biggest of pricks wouldn’t hope for anything less for one of the true nice guys of the NRL — and perhaps its hardest worker

9. Daniel Tupou (LW: 6)

Toops was less involved than he was against the Warriors — and this will happen for the winger from time to time. He does try to get involved but sometimes the ball simply goes away from the big lad.

Regardless, he managed six runs for 43 metres and did just enough not to drop out of the top 10. It wouldn’t have been his fault if he did drop though, as players below him just dominated in this one.

10. Frank-Paul Nu’uasala (LW: NR)

Source: Fox Sports.

In American sports, they might call what FPN has been doing the past two weeks a “contract run”: a player puts in maximum effort for a few weeks to secure a contract extension, before tailing off again to the mean.

But FPN has looked better than a flash in the pan in the midst of a contract run, and more the player he’s capable of who’s finally getting great coaching again. He followed up a spectacular running game against the Warriors by starting at lock and running through the first hit of the defence every time against the Dogs.

He had eight runs for 90 metres, the fourth straight game he’s averaged over 10 metres a run after averaging just 7.75 metres a game through the first four rounds of the season starting at lock, just prior to being injured. What makes this more than a contract run is that we know he is capable of this, and more: most contract runs come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. But this is Frank-Paul from his first two years in the NRL when he would repeatedly damage the opposition.

If this is a contract run, then good luck to him. But his performances in the past month resemble what should be the mean for the massive back-rower.

Honourable Mentions

Luke O’Donnell, who did absolutely nothing wrong to drop out of the rankings but was overshadowed by his teammates, despite another monster running game with 132 metres off 13 runs; and Jake Friend, who kicked a 40-20 and continues to enable second-phase play by always being in support, due largely to the fact he’s always ready to play dummy half, but whatever.



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