We’re half-way through the National Rugby League season. There’s been some great signings for 2017 with some wonderful transformations by switching clubs. Here’s a look at ten to six in the first part of this series.
10 Akuila Uate
After poor form in his final two seasons at the Newcastle Knights saw him languishing in the New South Wales Cup for much of 2016, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles decided to take a punt on the Fijian born flyer. The bustling winger has repaid the club in leaps and bounds with nine tries in 12 appearances. Quickly returning to the form which saw him represent New South Wales and Australia four and a half years ago, some may argue he is playing better football now than he was all that time ago. Uate is currently achieving an 81 percent effective tackle rate this season, his previous best was 73 percent in 2012 – the year he represented his state and country.
9 Michael Gordon
The man known as the flash has rejuvenated his career this season. With his shock pre-season switch having many punters questioning whether the Sydney Roosters had made the right call. A few short months before Michael Gordon put pen to paper with the Bondi based club, boom rookie Latrell Mitchell was touted as the next big thing in the fullback position and with the signing of ‘’Flash Gordon’’, many feared Mitchell’s pathway to NRL football had been blocked.
The 33-year-old has proved those doubters wrong this season. Winding the clock back to average the best attacking statistics of his career since 2013 – 120 run metres a game, 50 tackle breaks, 6 line breaks, 6 tries and 5 try assists – proving to be a valuable asset in the Roosters spine from his 14 appearances this season. Beneficially, Latrell Mitchell has found a home of his own in the centres with Gordon taking his Fullback position.
8 Tautau Moga
After three serious knee injuries, many feared Tautau Moga’s career was over. Struggling for form in the Queensland Cup for the Mackay Cutters in 2016, the Brisbane Broncos threw the 23-year-old a lifeline. Although starting the season off slowly, the 194cm and 108kg centre has become one of the most improved players in the NRL over the past two months of football.
Scoring four tries from his last seven games, the outside back is quickly reminding us what made him a future Origin prospect back in 2012 – and he will only continue to improve. Moga is averaging close to 140 run metres and 12 tackles a game this season – the most of his career thus far.
With Moga being signed at a basement price, Brisbane are definitely getting bang for their buck. Here’s hoping he can stay injury free and reach his full potential in the years to come.
7 Luke Keary
After a falling out with club hierarchy (none other than the Gladiator; Russell Crowe) led to a lacklustre season with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2016, the 2014 Grand Final winning five-eighth joined the Roosters this season on a big money contract.
With many expecting him to again disappoint, Keary has instead returned to the form of old which saw him labelled a future State of Origin prospect in 2015. Proving to be the perfect foil for New South Wales representative, and fellow premiership winner Mitchell Pearce, Keary has record a whopping 15 try assists and 22 line break assists in just 14 games this season.
6 Josh Ado-Carr
Oh Tigers, Tigers, Tigers…. How on earth did you let this guy slip between the cracks in your time of need? Josh Ado-Carr has proved to be the perfect replacement for Melbourne cult hero Marika Koroibete at the Storm this season.
Exceeding expectations by even his own standards, Addo-Carr has scored nine tries in 14 appearances this season whilst also sitting second on the line breaks made leader board with 14.
Ado-Carr’s average of 131 metres per game is among the best of any winger in the competition and evidently lays the platform for his forward pack to steam roll through the middle of the football field as a result from his quick play the balls.
With Ado-Carr’s blistering form this season, I’m sure the Wests Tigers are well and truly licking their wounds with deep remorse.
Be sure to check back next week for Part two.