NRC Team of the Week – Round 4 - Green and Gold Rugby
National Rugby Championship

NRC Team of the Week – Round 4

NRC Team of the Week – Round 4

Well that certainly was a cracking weekend of rugby.  Four bloody close games, come from behind victories in each, superb tries, monstor hits, scruammaging battles – what more could you want?

One thing the quality of the games did do was make selection for the Team of the Week so much tougher. Thanks to the inevitable thrashing or two, I was usually able to eliminate at least one team a round from selection consideration. But this week! This week that was no chance. There were contenders from all teams across the weekend and that made this a very tough task.  No more diddling about, let’s check out the team.

15 Alivereti Veitokani (Fiji Drua) – 3rd week in team

When I heard that Peceli Nacebe would not be returning for the Drua this year after his amazing cameo of last year, I was shattered. That misery soon faded as I saw what  Veitokani brought to the table. He’s what Mark Waugh would look like if he played rugby – moving like he’s in slow motion with time to spare. Doesn’t matter if its flyhalf or fullback, he’s all class. Jack McGregor (Force) and Justin Masters (Rising) were impressive, but still not a patch on the Drua 15.

14 Avete Daveta (Fiji Drua) – 1st

I love me some speedy wingers so I was hard pressed not to pick Rod Davies and / or Filipo Daugunu in one of these wing spots. In the end I went for the power wingers, not that these lads are fast.  Daveta was one of the stars of last year’s Drua but has been relatively overshadowed by the feats of his opposite winger, Levani Kurumundu. Daveta was the star on Sunday though, despite a yellow card. He ran strongly, linked as needed and tackled exceptionally.

13 Curtis Rona (Sydney Rays) – 1st

Much of the resurgence of the Brisbane City side seems to have come with Tautalatasi Tasi introduction to the team.  The former South Sydney Rabbitoh has brought a sting to the Slicker’s attack and defence. However this round was all about Rona.  The Waratah centre has not received a Wallaby shot this year but showed the type of form for the Rays against the Drua that should see him back in contention. Two tries were the start of it, as he played at a level you’d expect for the highest credentialed player in the team.

12 Duncan Paia’aua (QLD Country) – 1st

The Rays were also sparked by the relocation of Tyson Davis into the centres where he was impressive at Concord Oval on Sunday. And despite the game winning heroics of Jackson Jordon-Hope for the Vikings, I’ve opted for QLD Country skipper Paia’aua for this spot this week.  He really needs to work on improving his missed tackle rate, but it’s what he does with the ball that is of such importance to QLD Country. His interchange with Daugunu for his own try was simply magical.

11 Latu Latunipulu (Sydney Rays) – 2nd

The flying winger was a standout for the Rays up against some mighty impressive Fijian wingers.  Latunipulu’s impact with the ball in hand was a big reason why his Rays team was on course for the upset of the season going into the last quarter of the match. He seemed to bust tackles at will and was a constant handful for the Drua defence.

10 Quade Cooper (Brisbane City) – 1st

The battle on the Coast between Hamish Stewart and Andrew Deegan was of high standard, while Harry Burey continues to impress for the Sydney Rays.  However down in Adelaide Quade Cooper was exceptional as he guided his relatively inexperienced City side to an excellent come from behind win over the Rising.  Quade was at his beguiling best as he probed the Melbourne defence and directed his team around the park. A special treat for hungry South Australian rugby fans.

9 Ian Prior (Western Force) – 2nd

What Quade was doing with razzle dazzle in Adelaide, Prior was doing with clinical composure on the Gold Coast.  Put aside the perfect goal kicking performance that was so decisive in the Force’s 2nd away win in Queensland, it was his experience in general play that gives Prior the edge for selection here. The Force play such a precise game with the forwards working intently on recycling quality ball before unleashing the likes of Deegan and Jack McGregor to create opportunities for the wingers.  It’s a game that requires assured and assertive decision making and option taking form the nine. And that’s exactly what the Force skipper brought to the table, again, on the weekend.

8 Brynard Stander (Western Force)  – 1st

The Force took somewhat of a risk in resting Chris Alcock from their team last weekend.  Although it’s probably not a risk when you know you have a player such as Stander in whom you can be completely confident to fill the breach. And that’s what he did against QLD Country.  Stander was an inspiration when his Force side most needed and worked relentlessly in putting his side in the best position to snag the win.  Two unheralded players in Hugh Sinclair of the Rays and, in particular, Sam Wallis for Brisbane City were both outstanding and strong selection contenders too.

7 Mosese Voka (Fiji Drua) – 2nd

The Fiji Drua skipper was the heart and sole of his team’s comeback win on Sunday arvo. While his team was falling apart early, Voka never flinched. His work in attack was strong and he marshalled his team to keep within striking distance.  And strike they did. Voka was immense either side of the ball but, like every good Fijian forward, it was his ball in hand work that stood him apart.  NSW Country openside Will Miller was very strong for his Eagles team, but the impact Voka had on the Drua win was significant.

6 Sam Figg (NSW Country Eagles) – 1st

Figgy Smalls is back from his sojourn in the US as part of Major League Rugby’s inaugural year.  Figg slipped straight back into the Eagles jersey like he hadn’t skipped a beat and was in everything in Armidale on Sunday.  A workhorse in defence, Figg contributes big time in attack and while he doesn’t look like a muscle man, his impact ball in hand is significant.  Harrison Orr worked tireless for the Western Force while it was great to see Jack Dempsey ease his way back into rugby with a good stint for the Rays.

5 Fergus Lee-Warner (Western Force) – 1st

The somewhat unknown Lee-Warner finished on top of his encounter with the young ‘star’ locks of QLD Country, Harry Hocking and Angus Blythe. FLW made a heap of tackles however it was the impact he created at the ruck and when he ran the ball that caught the eye most. He played his role in the Force’s set piece dominance as well.  The Vikings’ Darcy Swain was again close to their best and pushed for selection as well.

4 Connor Vest (Sydney Rays) – 1st

In combination with his Rays locking partner, Nick Palmer, Vest was exceptional for Sydney as they pushed the Drua all the way on Sunday. Vest sneaks selection because of the impact he made on attack and because of many of the countless tackles he made were seriously impactful.  He pushed the line from a discipline perspective, but the intensity he brought to his game clearly shocked the Fijians early and they only just recovered.

3 Ruan Smith (Brisbane City) – 1st

The Smith twins were simply outstanding on the weekend. Ruan at tighthead anchored a dominant Brisbane scrum that was a cornerstone of the visitor’s victory.  Once again it was the work that he did around the field that really stood him apart.  When he wasn’t snaffling turnovers, he was making charging runs and looking for off-loads.  He also threw in a sublime pass to his winger Con Foley who then passed inside to Karmichael Hunt for Brisbane to score a crucial try.

2 Mahe Vailanu (NSW Country Eagles) – 1st

Once again there were numerous candidates for this week’s hooking position.  Anaru Rangi was again impactful for the Rising while John Sauni had a busy first run for the Rays.  But the player who caught my eye the most was NSW Country’s Melbourne-based rake, Vailanu.  Perhaps he was fired up because his last start for the Eagles resulted in a 60 point drubbing, but the man was an absolute wrecking ball. He pulled off a couple of absolute bell ringers and was part of a Eagles scrum that dominated the Vikings early on.

1 JP Smith (Brisbane City) – 3rd

Like his twin brother, JP put in the hard yards by playing the full 80 minutes against the Rising on the weekend.  This was despite the two turning the Brisbane scrum into a weapon and pretty much the lone advantage for the first half of the game.  JP gave Wallaby squad member Jermaine Ainsley a torrid time in the scrum in what was one of the highlights of the game.  His work rate across the park was equally impressive and made the impact at scrum time all the more remarkable.

  • Ben Fox

    When are the Smiths available for Wallaby selection?

    • RugbyReg

      apparently JP is eligible in around 12 months, Ruan not until the end of 2020

      • Huw Tindall

        Was having a chat on The Roar about the Smiths today with speculation about RWC2019 smokey selections. Guess they will have to be in the RWC2023 chat instead! Not a bad thing as with the current crop of props + Tupou we should be set for 2019.

      • Gipetto

        I ran into the Smiths at the shops – I believe they said they only have a couple of months to wait. Coach Heenan is wising up; he left them on the field for the full 80. To Reds fans, JP in particular, is outstanding.

    • Ian Rodger

      Our props look pretty good at the moment, especially if Slipper finds a home for next season and gets back to some good form. Adding the Smith brothers would be good but i wouldn’t say the are really needed at the moment. The problems are with different positions


    REG. .. Mate…….me and my mates have too laugh at you sometimes. After an extremely dominant first few games personaly for Quade, you still have to sneak in your obligatory Hamish Stewart honourable mention. :/ HS had probably his worst game in NRC….heres Hamish Stewarts 1st half……
    Kicked out on the full 3 times
    Fell off a weak assisting tackle leading to a try(something Quade copped flack doing without help with an adequate but also not try saving tackle on a big forward)
    Threw a poorly timed hospital pass causing a shepherding penalty.
    He was penalized for being offside and not rolling away(trying another Brad Thorn inspired “pilfer” n smash anything you see moving)
    He also didn’t number up and drift in defence helping letting Marcel Brakke in for another try…..
    Missed an easy conv(no big deal really but it all adds up)
    He allowed a linebreak,rushing up solo and mising his mark and then 30secs later he’s penalized for not rolling away….again.
    He also got lucky with a high shot on Marcel Brakke who scored negating the referee acting. He later drops a shoulder into Marcel Brakkes head who was attached to the side of a maul getting very lucky as the reff was very close. He had poor composure as he let Marcel get to him a few times.
    But more importantly his playstyle rarely finds him involved in play where he should be, too often diving in for a pilfer or to defend a ruck and ending up out of play for the next two sets. That try of the year contender from Duncan and Daugunu had Stewart nowhere to be seen also. Not many of the tries all season have involved HS.

    NOT a game effort worthy of mentioning my fine friend. Certainly not one praised but perhaps more honest constructive critism of the kid will help him. I certainly hope his coaches aren’t telling a little playmaker to double as a 7……

    • Kiap

      In no particular order: * The so-called try of the year contender had a forward pass by Daugunu. * Quade is still doing turnstile impressions. * This long strawman rant is laughable.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        How was it a try then?

      • Gallagher

        *The so called try of the year was not a forward pass mate, but irrelevant anyway as it was being discussed in the context of Hamish Stewart having no involvement (slaps forehead). * Hunt is still doing turnstile impressions you mean? If you saw the game you’d know Hunt spun on contact and stood still, whereas Cooper put his shoulder in, and due to speed and size differential spun, but remained in full contact, dragging him to the ground albeit over the line (slaps forehead). * If you call that a rant and not providing facts then your on the wrong forum, try a league forum Kiap.

        • RugbyReg

          Stewart passed to Paia’aua in that try. He then supported the inside line the rest of the way. He was there.

        • Gallagher

          Sorry mate but that’s like crediting the number 8 for the try two phases earlier, he did nothing to create the overlap , break or subsequent passes and Stewart was lumbering 20 metres behind nowhere near a position to assist.

          I recall a few weeks back Quade scored a try and was the last pass and try creator in three of the other four tries they scored. If Hamish ever did that then I’d be a fan…

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Mate, imagine the hype around here if Hamish ever does that :/. He might even make team of the week. :

        • GO THE Q REDS

          That’s a terrible grasping at straws version of pulling anything you can to find an involvement in the play. … .I honestly expect better

    • RugbyReg

      that’s a lot of words for barely a mention in the article.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I’d prefer a real response. .. a reason why you praised Hamish Stewart for his game which to me begs belief and not for the 1st time this season. But as things are open to personal interpretation I’ve kept quite. But even blind Freddy wouldn’t give Hamish a tick for that display…..

        • RugbyReg

          the real response is that I named QC as my starting 10 in this week’s Team of the Week. I didn’t even praise Stewart for his game.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Reg…. quote you roughly “the battle between HAMISH STEWART and Deegan was of HIGH QUALITY”
          Perhaps you meant the opposite? But in honesty you’ve given honourable mentions to Stewart in other games this year where he’s had little impact in any of Countries dominant try scoring opportunities. He’s a 10. If all he does is top a tackle count then that’s a fail. Or a player playing out of position at best mate. ….

        • RugbyReg

          nice pass by Stewart for that Hunt try this week

      • Gallagher

        I agree with Go the Q Reds, I appreciate that you are trying to write a rushed article about a lot of aspects of the game that we love, and the supporters on G&GR are super passionate…but Quade is a key player being a successful Red and Wallaby, and will get his limelight in an article full of players that just don’t warrant it, and unfortunately I speak of Hamish Stewart. Credit where it is due! Quade misses a backup tackle on a bullocking 13 that was already missed by another player pretty much the same size as the attacking 13 and played an excellent game otherwise, and Hamish makes all these errors, and Quade is still the focus of negativity, no real mention of Hunt’s miss, and Hamish is still the focus of positivity? People need to start watching the games if they want to engage in conversation about performance on G&GR me thinks.

        I enjoy coming on G&GR because of the serious and deep conversations had about REAL player and team performances, don’t make it a popularity contest. DOWN Pop Culture, UP Rugby!

        • RugbyReg

          what negativity have I thrown QC’s way? I’ve named him in the TOTW?

        • Gallagher

          Nothing this week, but there has been a trend to date this season so far that has been frustrating to read, especially around Hamish performing well vs his performances… the comment re Quade this week is aimed at the negative comments from the super passionate pop culture loving one eyed and uninformed supporters…

        • RugbyReg

          you had a go at me for my anti-QC stance when I am and always have been a huge fan. Please show me where I’ve had these unjustified negative comments.

        • Bobas

          Don’t lie, you’ve hated Quade ever since he skinned you that time on youtube.
          You and BT are in cahoots.

        • RugbyReg


    • Brumby Runner

      I am not contesting anything you’ve listed about Stewart, but I have to take you to task for your comment on Quade’s poor tackle allowing the try. Not a big forward at all, just the No 13 Tuipoluto

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Take me to task hey…..Well I’m clearly taking writers licence and trying to make a point. Anyone who watches NRC knows exactly who Tuipoloto is and that he has 150kg on Cooper.
        Now, I don’t see any mention of the fact that Tuipoluto had ALLREADY beaten Hunt in the line. …aswell as the player coming across in cover and they barely laid a finger on him. There isn’t a 10 in the world that could stop such a damaging runner solo that close to the line with a head of steam up. Poor tackling my arrse……

      • dru

        Put Foley there. Work out the result.

    • Slim 293

      You AND your mates? Sad…

      • Gallagher

        What do you talk about with ur mates and a beer in hand around the pool table, Mozart and the changing seasons? Sad…

        • Slim 293

          Mozart would probably be a more suitable topic of conversation between adults, than say “laughing at” rugby blogger’s team of the week – that seems a little… sad. Don’t you think? Particularly when the deity of that kids fan club was actually included in said TOTW.

        • Gallagher

          It specifically says “Join the discussion” at the top of the page for a reason Slim… and I think Reds was using a figure of speech. Either way that is far less concerning than a fan simply joining the discussion and saying someone’s lifestyle is “sad”. By the way I happen to like, beer, mozart and pool, it was also a figure of speech.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          At least I explained what was “funny”. Care to enlighten me on SAD.. ….

    • Jimmy Smit

      Could agree more, that kid has some much to learn, IMO I dont rate him as a 10, he would make a much better 7
      Its been a lucky “drag me along Brad” couple of season for that lad.

  • Brumby Runner

    Thanks again Reg. Just a couple of comments. I wouldn’t have had Veitokani at 15 where I thought he was good but not special, but I would have put him at 10. That is where he tore the defence apart and really put his stamp on the game. I would leave Quade out until he matches his attack with an adequate defence.

    I thought Daugunu really had an excellent game and I’d put him in instead of Daveta where his YC would count big against him.

    Sorry to see no Vikings included in the team, but must indicate they are best at playing as a whole team perhaps? Valetini at least could have been mentioned for the 6 spot. Would definitely have been in the running had he played the full game. And Hawera never seems to get a mention, but he is the spark behind the Vikings’ attack and his goal kicking has been on par with Prior’s.

    • RugbyReg

      I only pick players in the position they were picked.

      As for the Vikings? I thought they were pretty damn average and no one really put their hand up to get selected. As mentioned in the article Swain was good as was JJH, in patches.

      • Brumby Runner

        So that would mean a bench player can only be picked on the bench, right? But I think one or two bench players have been included in earlier iterations of TOTW.

        I agree with you that the Vikings were pretty ordinary, but they were better as a whole than the Eagles, and certainly the better team after the front row was replaced, before half time. That was when they dominated through the forwards and at set piece.

        Nevertheless, the game in Adelaide was the most inept and disinterested performances by two sides I’ve seen this NRC. Nobody from those teams should make the TOTW.

        • RugbyReg

          I don’t think I’ve ever picked a bench player? It would have to have been exeptional circumstances.

        • Brumby Runner

          I have no doubt you are right Reg. I was just being a bit provocative in response to your comment that you only pick players in the position they were picked.

          Veitokani was picked at 15, but didn’t come to life and dominate the game until he switched to 10. His performance at 15 wasn’t outstanding and should not, imo, allow him to be in the TOTW at the expense of another player who put in a better shift at 15 in another team. It is a little bit disingenuous to pick a player who tears it up at 10 in the 15 spot just because that was where he was picked to play but the way the game panned out it was when he switched due to injury that he starred.

          However, it is your article and you are entitled to run it as you please.

        • dru

          Jezus BR. Not picking nits, but tiny bits of them.

          Give the bloke some elbow room on the front page.

        • Brumby Runner

          I thought I gave him much more than just elbow room with my last comment, Dru. Nevertheless, I think I am justified in commenting on a player I thought did not do enough to warrant selection in the spot he did, though certainly warranted selection in another spot.

          All in all, I am very appreciative of the work Reg puts into his TOTW, and usually don’t have any issues with his selections even if I don’t necessarily fully agree with them.

        • RugbyReg

          out of interest BR, what team would you have picked for last weekend?

        • Brumby Runner

          Full back is the most difficult. I think the best performance was probably by Waqatabu but he only had, what, 30 minutes on the ground. Hard to pick a bench player, isn’t it. Otherwise, maybe Jordan Petaia, but he did miss one tackle on the big winger and that was the first missed tackle I think I’ve seen from him at Super or NRC level.

          Two worthy of mention would be Hansen from the Vikings and was it Clements for NSW Country?

          As I said in an above post, I would have Daugunu at wing in place of Daveta because of the YC.

          Veitokani would make it at 10, with recognition of Hawera for his game management and goal kicking exploits as well.

          I would probably put Swain in the team, in place of Vest, but wouldn’t die in the ditch.

          See, not much change, but thank you for asking.

  • Woodsman

    I feel like nobody actually watched the city game, they’ve seen the ‘zomg quade’s a horrible tackler take him out back and shoot him video’ and thats about it. The actual poor tackle in that play was Karmichael who did a genuine turnstile impression, slapping their 10 on the chest and doing a pirouette. It wasn’t a strong tackle by Quade but jeez the people lining up to throw stones is tiresome.

    • RugbyReg

      I watched it.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Did you really? You did say the Stewart v Deegan display was of “High Quality”. So I’m guessing you didn’t even watch the highlights of that one mate. ..

        • RugbyReg

          I watched the whole game. Yes.

          To be honest I’m just happy the NRC is getting a bit of passion behind it.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Me too Reg. Sorry to be so blunt but I feel it needed to be said bro. …

        • RugbyReg

          no dramas. It’s not like I worry what anonymous people on the internet say anyway.

  • dru

    Reg, really well done on these articles. They’re kind of impossible once fans start stepping in with attitude.

    Have to say I like your 1, 3, and 10 selections this week. :-)


      It’s hard for passionate fans when they’re wildly innacurate too mate. Goes both ways. Just cuz you have the mouth piece… . don’t make you king tut who can say anything ya want.. ..

      • dru

        Reg, as I said – tough gig. Keep rolling brother.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I don’t think Reg needs you groveling at his feet… pretty sure he’s a grown man and can debate his own articles.

    • Gallagher

      I agree dru, it is difficult when attitude from fans permeat good discussions. I also agree the 1, 3 and 10 selections where spot on this week!

  • phil peake

    Hi Reg Rona had a couple of nice touches in attack, but to me he showed exactly why he’s NOT a Test player. He can’t pass left to right- 3 bad passes – one into touch, one forward behind the goal line, one to the ground. He gets lost in defence. Twice missing tackles/being beaten resulting in tries to the Drua. He missed 5 tackles. He rushes up in the defence creating holes in the defensive line, he doesn’t read attack well, he’s slow to turn and he walks. Do we want another one of these types in our Wallabies backline? Surely there was another 13 that showed more?

    • RugbyReg

      Yep, I am intriguiged to see what happens with Tasi with Brisbane City. A former Rabbitoh contracted player he’s done some good things in the last two games. I don’t think anyone else really made the call for thier selection however.

      • phil peake

        Another league convert isn’t what we need. The form 13 from Super rugby this year has been Tom English and the Rising have moved him to the wing (where he scored 5 tries)! Con Foley is another great centre being played on the wing. We need these smart guys at 13 that can defend and unleash their outside backs.

    • st saens

      Hi Phil. Agree re Rona. While I have not rewatched the game on mute, my first impressions were not good. Sh#t passing in particular. Don’t want any more non-passing rugby league rejects anywhere near the Wobs atm.
      Memo to Reg: love your work !
      Memo to interim coach Cheika: can’t stand your work. Give QC another crack mate. He ain’t perfect but your mate Foley is mediocrity served cold on a paper plate.

      • phil peake

        Can’t agree re. Cooper, but agree we need backs with rugby IQ. Our neglect of position specific requirements has filtered through our coaches, commentators, journalists, selectors and fans. Looking for the next league convert or power runner isn’t the answer.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Power runners work AWESOME…….aslong as you have a real PLAYMAKER in the team that takes advantage of them.

        • phil peake

          Only if they can tackle and pass as well, which rules out a lot of them.


      Shhhh. …this effort got him into team of the week. .. . don’t ruin it.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    Finally good to see the NSW teams turn up this week and more blokes in the team of the week. Goes to show how much impact a disrupted start to the season can have.

    Two good efforts for no wins sucks though. Eurgh, come on just give us a win!

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