Justis Kamu looks at the standout issues in the NRL from the past week
1. Mateo too skilful for NSW
After watching Feleti Mateo carve up the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon with a man of the match performance in the 35-18 win. It's hard to ignore his claims for a NSW spot, particularly when his range of skills - footwork, ball handling, passing could've created problems for a big QLD forward pack.
What does he have to do to earn a NSW jumper? He's been terrific for the Warriors since his arrival and his thoughts on playing in New Zealand as being a disadvantage to earning representative honours appears to be true. His deft passing at the line had the Cowboys on edge the whole game with Mateo's influence on the game evident during his time off the park as the North Queenslanders overturned the momentum.
Two passing movements with his involvement resulted in tries for the home team with Ben Henry on the end of Shaun Johnson's break and Jacob Lillyman crashing over the tryline after a sweet pass. At 28, Mateo's chances of an Origin callup appear to be slim particularly if they win or go close in tonight's decider.
He's the most talented backrower in the game but even that isn't enough to convince the Blues selectors that he is an Origin-type player.
2. When coaches just don't like your style
You may have noted from the recent mid-season transfers that Ivan Cleary has released former Junior Warriors star Nafe Seluini to the Roosters for 2012-2013 seasons.
What's amusing (or not) is that this is the second time Cleary has rid him of his services while being the head man in charge, showing him the door during his time at the Warriors. This was despite Seluini winning the player of the year award in 2010 for his brilliant season in the Toyota Cup as they clinched their maiden championship title.
The 21-year-old performed solidly in 2011 making 16 appearances and had his contract upgraded before Cleary landed in Penrith. His story is awfully reminiscent of former Dragons and Knights halfback Beau Henry who was shipped twice by Wayne Bennett at St George and Newcastle before finding a home at the Gold Coast Titans.
Henry like Seluini was Toyota Cup star but the master coach Bennett didn't appreciate his ability. When your forced out by the same coach at two different clubs, it has to get one thinking that this was more than just a coincidence.
3. Mal are you serious, Ben Te'o over Dave Taylor?
Mal Meninga's decision to go with Ben Te'o over Dave Taylor is a huge blow to the confidence of Maroons supporters for tonight's State of Origin decider. Taylor is a genuine matchwinner for the Queenslanders and his omission will have the Blues breathing a huge sigh of relief. With just Sam Thaiday in the engine room as Queenland's gamebreaker, the Maroons appear lean upfront when you have Tony Williams, James Tamou and Tim Grant - three giants of the game running in the opposite direction.
Te'o is a hardnosed defender and won't hold back in taking the heat out of the New South Wales runners, however Queensland already have players that do that in Nate Myles, Corey Parker and Matt Gillette. On the otherhand Taylor's bulldozing runs can turn the tide of game - only a handful of forwards in the NRL have that ability and tonight Queensland won't have a player like that to call upon.
It can't be ignored that he made a couple of telling errors in game two but with his maturity and development at a new level (largely thanks to his time under Meninga) you feel that Taylor would've delivered a performance worthy of an Origin reprieve in tonight's finale.
4. Prop Toka Likiliki makes wing look easy
Big ups to prop Ma'afutoka (Toka) Likiliki for his performance on the wing for the Juniors Warriors in the 48-12 thumping of the Cowboys at Mt Smart. It's not every day you see a 185cm, 115kg forward transition smoothly to the flank, making it look effortless in the process. Although Likiliki covered for injuries to the team's regular wingers he looked anything but a stop-gap replacement.
Damaging with the ball in hand, the Mt Albert junior racked up impressive numbers running for 162m, six tackle breaks, and one line break. Despite his 'big-boned' appearance for an outside back, he showed that he was no slouch when making a 40 metre break in the second half to setup a Warriors try. As a prop Likiliki is just as impressive making 164m and four tackle breaks against the Sharks in round 15 and is a standout for the Lions in the Fox Memorial.
Let's hope the Juniors Warriors don't have an injury crisis in the halves, then again with Likiliki acting adeptly as a DIY winger maybe he has what it takes to fill in at 6 or 7.
5. Your comments
@Tim McGervan Suggesting that Super Rugby doesn't compare to the NRL is rubbish, when comparing codes you fail to take into account that Super Rugby isn't the only competition in Rugby, there is also NPC and a real international calender, count the games in the respective codes. There is more in Rugby!
- The NRL and Super Rugby are the only two professional competitions of each code. Yes, there are more games in rugby but the ITM Cup is semi-pro competition with a mix of part-time (people with normal day jobs) and fulltime rugby players. There is a significant drop in standard from Super Rugby to ITM Cup; also the ABs primarily use the competition to get their fitness up-to-scratch - when do we ever see them play a full or a half season?
@James Yancey SBW going to the Roosters is big news. But I think their best signing for 2013 has to be James 'The Sherminator' Maloney. Big loss for the Warriors.
- Agreed, he's a key signing for a club who have struggled to reach the heights of their 2010 Grand Final appearance. Plus playing in front of the Sydney media will help push his case for a first-up NSW Origin if he's in form.
Derek PokoinaNah, I think you both speak for yourselves. You guys are just a bunch of haters who never had his talents. Name one person in the entire world who has a NRL championship ring, a World Cup medal and is a heavyweight boxing champion. Not to mention giving all your fight money to charity.
- He's a very talented athlete who has earned the respect of his peers for two of three of those achievements but there are many in the boxing circles who are not convinced of his talents in the gloves.
Scott Chris Regarding Krishnan Inu - Okay it's easy to be wise after the fact, but his form for the Dogs indicates to me that Hasler is a good coach and McClennan isn't. Manu might add more than he gives away but I can't understand why Tupou is persisted with. What a shame Inu isn't playing in his place.
- Hasler and McClennan are both known to be great motivators, but Hasler did what McClennan could not do; get Inu to play well. The Bulldogs made a great bargain buy for a player who is making the most of his time on the field.
6. Team of the Week
1. Fullback - Reece Robinson (Raiders)
2. Wing -James McManus (Knights)
3. Centre - Timana Tahu (Knights)
4. Centre - Ben Henry (Warriors)
5. Wing - Nathan Stapleton (Sharks)
6. Five-eighth - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)
7. Halfback - Shaun Johnston (Warriors)
8. Prop -Dan Tilse (Raiders)
9. Hooker - Isaac Luke (Rabbitohs)
10. Prop - Ben Matulino (Warriors)
11. Secondrow - Dave Taylor (Rabbitohs)
12. Secondrow - Feleti Mateo (Warriors)
13. Lock - Wade Graham (Sharks)
Coach: Michael Maguire (Rabbitohs)