By HAMISH NEAL
Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round six and the representative weekend.
WITH the representative weekend taking centre stage last weekend, Five Metre Gap, will take this chance to assess some of the season’s action to date, highlighting players who look to have exceeded expectations.
And we will start from the back with Canberra fullback Reece Robinson. With the drama surrounding Josh Dugan’s departure Robinson has cemented his spot as the Raiders custodian with some great impact for the side. In his last two games alone he has broken eight tackles and ran for 303 metres combined.
Mahe Fonua has continued his meteoric rise as the first Victorian-produced Melbourne Storm top-grade player. This time last year it was unlikely a player behind Sisa Waqa, Matt Duffie and others in the Craig Bellamy-coached side would end up a World-Cup bound international who has featured in a World Club Challenge win. A few errors aside, the bustling Tongan international is fast becoming an important finisher for the Storm.
James Maloney has become the cog that is driving the Sydney Roosters to a somewhat unexpected 4-2 start to the season. Maloney’s goal-kicking and kicking in general play was never the query but his link play with NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce and dual-international Sonny Bill Williams must be the most pleasing aspect for coach Trent Robinson. The one-time Eels player had stagnated in some ways at the under-achieving Warriors by the end of last season but is a player re-born this club season.
Another part of a team who has started with win four wins and two losses gets a vote for exceeding expectations in the form of the Gold Coast Titans back-row. The selected back-row for round seven may change but the likes of Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison have reeked havoc and worked hard to help lay a platform for the inexperienced halves combination of Aidan Sezer and Albert Kelly.
Harrison continues to be a tackling machine and Bird adds a constant threat on the edge. However, Bird is also making a lot of yardage up the middle at times with 202 metres in the win against the Eels.
Newcastle Knights forward Willie Mason appears nailed on for a return to the NSW side for the State of Origin series after some barn-storming efforts for the Knights and, last weekend, Country Origin.
The evergreen 33 year-old has been a key factor in the Wayne Bennett-coached sides unbeaten run at home this season and will be more important with Kiwi international Jeremy Smith now out due to suspension for the next month or so.
By HAMISH NEAL