The weekly column here at Leagueunlimited is to highlight what we here on the site think are the best players in each round of the 2004 NRL competition. Based on the opinion received from the Leagueunlimited.com live updaters, we have put together what we think is the team of the Round 11.
With the Knights, Broncos and the Roosters all resting on the sideline before the first State of Origin game, a lot of other teams were also missing some of their key players. There were some extremely close games in Round 11, enough to keep the interest flowing in the build up to the State of Origin series beginning on Wednesday night.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 11:
1. Brett Hodgson - Brett Hodgson stood out amongst his piers on Saturday evening when he put in a near perfect performance for the Tigers against the Bulldogs. Apart from scoring a try, the amount of bombs he handled in defence was outstanding. Definitely a polished performance and the NSW selectors may just be looking his way further into the Origin series.
2. David Howell - Howell put in a solid performance for the Dragons on Friday night when they defeated the Parramatta Eels by 37-6. A try to Howell capped off a good night as he helped his forwards out many times when they looked to be tiring.
3. Josh Hannay - Close but no cigar for the Cowboys on Saturday night against a Panthers side misses many of its stars. Hannay although not quite up to his usual standard with the boot, put in a lot of work on defence to keep the Panthers at bay.
4. Ben Creagh - With Nathan Blacklock leaving the game early on Friday night, Ben Creagh moved out to the centres and had a cracker of a game, frustrating the Eels attack on many occasions. A top performance from the youngster who's team was severly affected by both injuries and rep duties.
5. Jamaal Lolesi - In a close tussle, the Tigers managed to hold out the Bulldogs at the Advocate Stadium in Gosford. Although a supposedly home game for the Bulldogs, the crowd was obviously on the Tigers side. Lolesi had a strong game for a depleted Bulldogs side, but not enough for the win.
6. Paul Gallen - Gallen had an outstanding match when the Sharks narrowly defeated the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon at Brookvale Oval. Scoring two tries in the match, Gallen helped to make the 200th first grade game for fullback Peachey a memorable one. Working well with Kimmorley on attack, Gallen was also hard working on defence.
7. Mathew Head - Returning from injury in an understrength Dragons side, Mathew Head had a big role to play on Friday night, and he fulfilled it superbly. Guiding the young Dragons' side well, Head was well rewarded with a try in the first half, and the players following his lead well in the second half where they ran away with the match.
8. Robbie Kearns - Kearns only know one way to play and that's hard. In a tough game against the Raiders he held his own many times and broke through many tackles to help his team on their winning way.
9. Nathan Friend - An outstanding match by the Melbourne Storm hooker making a massive 40 tackles in the narrow victory over the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night in Melbourne. The Storm left it until the last few minutes to snatch the win over the Raiders and with players like Friend guiding the side, they did it in style.
10. Ruben Wiki - Coming back from suspension Wiki added a much needed spark into the Raiders side. Unfortunately for the Canberra side, it wasn't quite enough to get the win. Once again Wiki's tackles counted when needed as put in some hard hits on the opposition.
11. Awen Guttenbeil - The captain of the NZ Warriors doesn't do anything flash but he knuckled down his side well to put on an ugly but satisfactory win over the Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon at Aussie Stadium. This quiet achiever went about his business is what was an impressive display by the Warriors on defence.
12. Tony Puletua - Missing some of their top players to rep duty, it was up to the more experienced players to put their hand up in the game against the Cowboys on Saturday evening. Puletua was one of these players as he helped his side to a narrow victory over the home side.
13. Wairangi Koopu - Koopu along with the other Warriors forwards put on a solid defensive display against the Rabbitohs on Sunday. He made a mammoth 38 tackles and made sure he found his mark each time. A definite asset to the NZ Warriors side.
14. Andrew Walker - Walker just missed out on sending the Sea Eagles and the Sharks into Golden Point time when he missed a conversion right at the death of the game on Sunday afternoon. Apart from that Walker was outstanding in the game.
15. Anthony Laffranchi - Laffranchi played very well for the Tigers when they defeated the Bulldogs at Gosford on Saturday night. He impressed with his hitups and tireless defence to help the Tigers on their winning way.
16. Ryan Girdler - Girdler given the role of captain, led his side by example. A perfect night with the boot, Girdler and his side came away with a good win in Townsville with 6 of their top players out of the game.
17. Lance Hohaia - Setting up 4 tries with his kicks, Hohaia helped to steer the Warriors on their winning way at last. A little shaky to start with, Hohaia stepped up to the role well.