NRL 2021: Stats Insider's Team Of The Month - August
The calendar has flicked over to September, so it's time to check in with the Stats Insider Team of the Month for August.
How is the Stats Insider Team of the Month Selected?
Based on Stats Insider’s NRL Player Ratings, a player’s game by game ratings (when named to start in each position) are added together for the relevant month. The players with the highest overall rating in each position are then selected in the Team of the Month.
Outside of players named to start on the interchange bench, players are only eligible to score in the position they were named to start the match. Halves are also grouped into a single position for selection purposes.
So, who cracks it this month?
Stats Insider's Team of the Month (August, 2021)
1. Tom Trbojevic
No surprises here as Tom Trobojevic continues to make the TOTM #1 jersey his in 2021. Surging towards what is surely a borderline uncontested Dally M Medal, Tommy Turbo scored another four tries in July while handing out six try assists.
His hat-trick against the Bulldogs in Round 24 is the fourth time he has scored three tries in a game this season.
Trbojevic's 2021 campaign is being compared to the historically great individual seasons of Jarryd Hayne in 2009 and Ben Barba in 2012. With 22 tries and 25 try assists along with 215 running metres per game, the Sea Eagles fullback is putting forward a strong case.
2. Reuben Garrick
Reuben Garrick is a big beneficiary of Tom Trbojevic's stellar form, but he is certainly making the most of his opportunities.
His hat-trick on Sunday afternoon took him to 22 tries for the season. Ticking past triple-figures to now have 103 goals to his name, Garrick became the first player in NRL history to score 20+ tries and kick 100+ goals in a season.
3. Dane Gagai
Dane Gagai's influence on this Rabbitohs side may not be completely felt until he leaves for the Knights next season.
He has been excellent on South Sydney's scintillating left edge in both attack and defence.
The 30-year-old scored another two tries in August to take his tally to ten for the year - the third consecutive season he has hit double figures. With another two try assists this month, he has just set a new career-high with 11 already in 2021.
As players move in and out of the left edge around him, Gagai's defensive awareness has ensured his edge remains firm defensively as the Rabbitohs look to make up ground on the Panthers and Storm without the ball.
4. Jesse Ramien
He won't be the first player most people think about when considering the best centres in the NRL throughout August, but Jesse Ramien has been fantastic this month.
The Sharks are in desperate need of consistent attacking talent and Ramien is providing them with the goods. His two tries have come in handy, but it's his destructive carries that are proving most valuable. The 24-year-old has averaged 5.5 tackle breaks and a monster 177 running metres per game across his last four matches.
5. Josh Mansour
Our last memory of Josh Mansour this year will be of him spilling bombs and being tormented by Nathan Cleary in Round 23. However, before that forgettable performance, Mansour filled Alex Johnston's spot on the left wing through four tries, 13 tackle breaks, six line breaks along with 180 running metres per game.
He doesn't have the pace or finishing ability of Johnston. Souths certainly left a couple of tries on the table without their usual left winger. Still, Mansour filled in admirably and excelled in yardage to start South Sydney's exit sets.
6. Cody Walker
Similar to Tom Trbojevic, Cody Walker has a mortgage on the TOTM #6 jersey. If anybody is going to get close to the Manly fullback in the Dally M vote, it's Walker.
He pushed his try assist streak out to 12 consecutive games with another six try assists throughout August. That takes him up to 33 for the season as he chases down Tim Smith's record of 40 try assists across the 2005 NRL season.
With Latrell Mitchell ruled out for the year, Walker will only see the ball more. He drifts over to the right side and plays like a fullback when Mitchell isn't on the field. Expect him to pile up try assists left and right throughout the remainder of South Sydney's season - however long that might be.
It does have another Preliminary Final loss feel to it...
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
Daly Cherry-Evans is back for another spell in the Team of the Month after landing the #7 jersey in July.
He knocked over the game-winning field goal for the Sea Eagles to beat the Raiders in Round 23 without Tom Trbojevic. While Cherry-Evans couldn't quite get the Manly attack firing against the Storm in Round 21, he has picked up four try assists since then.
The pressure he builds with his game management and the six dropouts he forced throughout August will be crucial to Manly's success in September.
8. Payne Haas
Payne Haas is still only 21-years old but has been doing this for three seasons now...
The Broncos forward pack is on the up, and while Haas has never been the problem, he is being put in better positions to dominate now. He has been allowed to pass the ball more often since Tevita Pangai Jr and Matt Lodge left the club and that has only made him more dangerous as a ball carrier.
This season was looking like a 'down' year for Haas by his standards. However, with another 180 metres per game over the last month, his season average is up to 172 metres per game - just three metres short of his 2020 number.
9. Damien Cook
Damien Cook's job just became a lot more important with Latrell Mitchell being ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Rabbitohs need some extra spark in attack to make up for the loss of their influential fullback. Lucky for Wayne Bennett, Cookie is in excellent form.
He is getting out from behind the ruck to have cracked 70 running metres in each of his last two games. Meanwhile, his partnership with Cameron Murray in good ball areas is really starting to take off. And when the opportunity arises as it did here with a big prop isolated onto a little hooker, Cook is throwing the pin-point pass.
Cook was one player circled as a probable beneficiary of the six again rule when it was introduced last year. While he hasn't quite lived up to the expYou ectations, he is coming good when the Rabbitohs need him most.
10. Addin Founa-Blake
Addin Fonua-Blake has finally been able to stay on the field and is really starting to hit his straps as the season comes to an end. Unfortunately for the Warriors, his stellar form has come too late for them to be relevant in September. However, it does provide some optimism for a fanbase that has been starved of success over the last decade.
It has been a long time since the Warriors have had a consistent metre-eater through the middle of the field. In Fonua-Blake and his 205 running metres per game throughout August, the club has found their man.
11. Josh Curran
Nobody saw THIS version of Josh Curran coming...
The one that scored two tries, handed out two try assists, broke the line four times and shrugged off 12 defenders in August.
The one that has become one of the Warriors most consistent performers on both sides of the ball to have cracked 150 metres twice in the last four games while averaging 38.2 tackles per game.
Curran is jumping between the edge and lock forward and completing every job asked of him. On the edge he is hitting lines and carrying the ball hard. In the middle, he is ballplaying when the opportunity is there and adding some much-needed starch to the defence.
Like Fonua-Blake, Curran's last month of footy is a reason for optimism in 2022.
12. Euan Aitken
Not many edge back rowers can touch the ball 40 times across three games without passing it and still make the Team of the Month, but Euan Aitken has been that good.
Aitken moved one spot in from his usual home in the centres in Round 20 and has looked comfortable - outside of passing the ball - ever since. He has always been a strong ball carrier and the Warriors have made the most of that for the 26-year-old to register 112.5 running metres per game. His 15 tackle breaks across the four rounds have made him particularly difficult to handle.
While he is at risk of becoming too one-dimensional in his playing style on the edge, he has filled in admirably in a time of need for the Warriors.
13. Cameron Murray
Cameron Murray's role in the Rabbitohs attack is still grossly understated.
As Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell sweep left and right, those moves often follow a Murray carry and quick play-the-ball. More recently, he has been getting involved in playing teammates onto the ball close to the line and found a meat pie for Mark Nicholls in Round 24.
His numbers are always impressive. Murray averaged 107.5 running metres and 38 tackles per game amongst all of the little things he does that don't show on the stats pages throughout August.
Like Cook, Murray needs to take this form with him through to September if the Rabbitohs are to make up for the loss of Mitchell.
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