We�ve got a great mix for this week with plenty of deserving candidates grabbing jerseys. There�s pace, stamina, explosiveness, skill and a few sensible types just for good measure. As always our side is picked on form, so take a butcher�s at the Round 9 League Unlimited Team of the Week.
Fullback: Matthew Bowen (Cowboys) � Matty Bowen gave plenty of reasons as to why he should have been the Australian fullback with another scorching display up in Townsville. He helped tear apart the Panthers at every opportunity.
Wing: Brenton Bowen (Cowboys) � Not content to stay in his cousin�s shadow, Brenton Bowen got in the act with a fine display in the top grade, bagging a try and showing off some of his acrobatic skills in the process.
Centre: Justin Hodges (Broncos) � Hodges continues to impress as he took the game right up to the Knights, figuring in the lead-up to a few tries and proving a real handful for the defence.
Centre: Nigel Vagana (Sharks) � Tormented the Dragons with several strong runs for which he is becoming quite famous, making up for his reluctance to throw the ball at times. Vagana backed up well from the Test match and played a leading role in a great Sharks victory.
Wing: Brian Carney (Knights) � The enthusiastic Irish winger was again strong for the Knights, scoring two tries in a tough contest and proving hard to contain out of dummy half and kick returns.
Five-eighth: Jason Smith (Raiders) � Old stager Jason Smith deserves all the wraps that go his way. He directed traffic for the Raiders again over the weekend and he changes the tempo of the game when he chooses.
Halfback: Adam Dykes (Sharks) � Dykes was unstoppable against the Dragons, calling all the shots behind a well accomplished pack of forwards. He�s had a terrible stroke of bad luck though, with an ankle injury ruling him out for 12 weeks.
Lock: Paul Gallen (Sharks) � Under-rated in many ways, Gallen has proven himself to be a tradesman of the game, turning up and doing the dirty work each week. He has stood up well following the injury to Ben Ross.
Second-row: Lance Thompson (Sharks) � Thommo is a tower of strength for the Sharks at the moment and is verging on NSW selection. He gets a shot to impress for City on Friday night and he proved his worth again for the Sharks against former club the Dragons, crossing the stripe and knocking a goal over from the sideline in sensational fashion. I bet they enjoyed that out Kogarah way!
Second-row: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders) � Big Tom remains one of the Raiders� best forwards, taking the ball up with relentless monotony and tackling the house down. He�s also deceptively nimble for a big man.
Prop: Roy Asotasi (Bulldogs) � Backing up from a great performance in the Test match on Friday night, Roy paved the way forward for the Bulldogs with some very strong runs and stiff defence. He helped pull the Doggies back from a 12-0 deficit to record a memorable victory over new arch rivals the Roosters.
Hooker: Danny Buderus (Knights) � Another fella who backed up from Friday night and put in a five-star performance. Buderus continues to tackle all day and he knows exactly when to run, often proving to be lethal. A true leading light for the Knights.
Prop: Willie Mason (Bulldogs) � Also backing up was Willie who seemed to enjoy collecting a few more bruises for the weekend. He scored a good try, which he�s making a habit of, and played a great game ensuring his certain selection for the Blues.
Interchange: Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles), Tony Grimaldi (Bulldogs), Lincoln Withers (Raiders), Robert Farah (Tigers).
A good bench here with workers in Menzies (backing up) and Grimaldi who both scored important tries. They arevery mobile guys and make plenty of tackles. Withers and Farah both hit above their weight and do a good job sniffing around the rucks for scraps. Withers is having a field day running off Smith, strolling over for a try against the Eels, whilst Farah is giving top notch service at dummy half.
Merkin of the Week Award for Stupidity: Russell Smith is a lay down misere this week after a deplorable display of officiating throughout the entire Tigers v Sea Eagles contest. Hopefully his sacking to Premier League may give him the wake-up call he needs. Strap on the Merkin, you goose!