There were plenty of surprises in round three of the NRC.
Who were the standouts in the third week?
1. Shambeckler Vui - Perth Spirit
Shambeckler Vui is proving himself to be one of Australia’s rising stars in the front row. Has been building on strong U20s form and was again impressive in the Spirit’s demolition of the Rams.
2. Robbie Abel - Canberra Vikings
Abel has laid the foundations for the Vikings in the opening three rounds and was again among their best, as their set piece stayed strong in Queensland. Finished with 13 tackles and a turnover.
3. Les Makin - Canberra Vikings
Makin has been growing this season and that growth is being laid bare in the NRC, as the youngster gains more game time. The Vikings forwards have been some of the best this season and the tighthead continues to play a critical role in that
4. Lukhan Tui – Brisbane City
It was his NRC form that earned him a Wallabies recall and Tui did not miss a chance to continue to put pressure on the incumbent Test players in Brisbane. Has been mooted as a potential Wallabies six, with his mobility and size a threatening combination.
5. Matt Philip - Perth Spirit
Philip had a breakout Super Rugby season and his form with Perth Spirit is only continuing that on. The lock has been a steadying influence in the team and his value goes up each week.
6. Filimoni Seru - Fijian Drua
The Fijian backrow was influential again, in their first NRC home game, and Seru was key to that against last year’s runners-up.
7. Mosese Voka - Fijian Drua
Voka sets the tone for the Drua forwards and provides a crucial defensive influence for a team full of flair. Second in tackles made (49) through the opening three rounds, behind only Vikings’ blindside Ben Hyne.
8. Rob Valetini - Canberra Vikings
The Brumbies have moved to lock down Rob Valetini and his performance on the weekend showed why. Eleven tackles showed his defensive impact, particularly, against City.
9. Michael Ruru - Perth Spirit
Ruru will be in demand should he be happy to go to a new Super Rugby club in 2018, again impressing in Perth. The halfback and Spirit captain provides crisp service to his backs and puts himself in the thick of the action. A big future ahead.
10. Quade Cooper - Brisbane City
Cooper was back some of his best football against the Vikings. A tight tussle against Wharenui Hawera, who was a standout for Canberra, but Cooper’s better conversion rate just seals this spot for the Queenslander.
11. Latu Latunipulu - Sydney Rays
As far as finishers go, Latunipulu is the best in the 2017 NRC. A hat-trick against the Rising put him at the top of the competition’s try scorers as the Rays notched their first win. That tally is even more impressive, given the Rays had a round one bye.
12. Bill Meakes - Perth Spirit
Meakes had a double in a dominant Spirit side, and showed off his attacking abilities at McGillivray Oval, with 128 metres off 12 carries, beating nine defenders along the way.
13. Hunter Paisami - Melbourne Rising
Paisami is proving himself as one of the Rising’s best so far this year. His physicality has been critical in a side that is yet to break through for a win.
14. John Grant - Greater Sydney Rams
Grant scored a double for the Rams as they were blown away in Perth. The winger makes the most of his opportunities, a vital skill for him to have.
15. Tom Banks - Canberra Vikings
Banks is setting the NRC alight, continuing his superb 2017 season. His form has already thrown him into a Wallabies camp and the 23-year-old vindicated that choice in Brisbane on Sunday as well, scoring two tries, making 134 metres and beating five defenders.