NRL 2021: Stats Insider's Team Of The Month - May
The calendar is being flicked over to June, so it's time to check in with the Stats Insider Team of the Month for May.
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 (May, 2021)
1. Tom Trbojevic
"The Sydney Roosters fullback has a mortgage on this jersey." - Team of the Month, March
It didn't seem like anybody would come along and beat James Tedesco to the #1 jersey in the Team of the Month all season. Clint Gutherson snuck in last month while Tedesco missed time, but it's Tom Trbojevic that has truly unseated the Roosters fullback.
Trbojevic has been outstanding to start his 2021 season. In fact, few would argue against him being the most influential player in the game right now given the fact he turned the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles from bottom four fodder into a probable Top 8 side.
He has piled up numbers in his seven games so far, but in May alone he had 5 tries, 8 try assists, 7 line breaks, 22 tackle breaks while running for 215.2 metres per game.
2. Josh Addo-Carr
Josh Addo-Carr scored 10 tries in May.
6 of those came in an incredible 50-0 win over the Rabbitohs in Round 9 with another 3 to come against the Dragons a week later.
As the Storm attack heats up to win 9 games in a row, Addo-Carr is perched on the left wing and ready to add the finishing touches to a wide-ranging shift. The 25-year-old is making sure to do his job to start sets, too. He's currently averaging a career-high 143 running metres per game after averaging 147.2 metres per game throughout May.
3. Matt Burton
You wouldn't know that Matt Burton is a five-eighth by trade when you see him parked out in the centres for the Panthers. He looks right at home in the #4 jersey and has been talked about as a possible State of Origin smokey given the versatility he has displayed over the last ten rounds.
His hometown hat-trick in Dubbo in Round 11 is a highlight of the season so far and made up for 3 of his 5 tries in May alone.
Despite Brent Naden available to play following his ban and Paul Momirovski fit and healthy, the five-eighth turned centre looks set to keep his place on the flanks all season.
4. Stephen Crichton
Burton's rise up the ranks and the comfort at which he plays the left centre position has forced Stephen Crichton over to the right edge when he isn't playing fullback.
It has been a quiet year for Crichton after bursting onto the scene in 2020. He finished up last season with 17 tries in 22 games as the Panthers left edge started to develop into one of the best-attacking avenues in the NRL. Still, while only playing two games in the centres in May, Crichton made his mark out wide with a try and 3 try assists while running for 159.5 metres per game.
5. Daniel Tupou
Daniel Tupou makes a timely appearance in the Stats Insider Team of the Month after losing his spot in the New South Wales Blues State of Origin side for Game 1 of the series.
Brian To'o has been great to start the 2021 season. He was right here this time last month, and while he hasn't churned out quite the same yardage numbers, he played out a strong four rounds.
However, it's Tupou's 4 tries, 5 line breaks, 13 tackle breaks and 167.5 running metres per game that lands him a wing spot in the Team of the Month for May. He's a reliable performer and was one of the Blues best in the 2020 series. He can feel hard done by that he isn't being given the first crack in 2021.
6. Jahrome Hughes
Jahrome Hughes is continuing his rise to superstardom with another TOTM appearance.
He was Melbourne's only first-choice spine player running out onto the field for most of May. The 26-year-old took control of the side in a more organisational role while still finding ways to dominate the game with his feet.
Hughes is the best running halfback in the game right now. He picks his moments well and picked up 123 running metres per game in May. Meanwhile, his support play through the middle of the field is Cooper Cronk-like and the key to Melbourne finishing so many line breaks with points.
Plenty doubted how the Kiwi international would cope without Cameron Smith leading him and the Storm around the park this season. Nobody doubts him anymore.
7. Nathan Cleary
We're only three months into the season and it's already becoming difficult to find new ways to talk about Nathan Cleary.
Like last month, Cleary "is the key playmaker in the best team in the NRL."
The Panthers are still unbeaten and Cleary is yet to offer even the tiniest glimpse of playing a bad game. In fact, he's using his time out on the field as an opportunity to practice his new trick shots.
With another five tries and five try assists throughout May, Cleary put some distance between himself and the rest on the Dally M Ladder and added another SI TOTM appearance to his résumé.
8. James Fisher-Harris
The conversation around James Fisher-Harris being the best prop in the NRL started in April and ended in May.
He is the #1 prop in rugby league.
His motor is what makes him special and so important to the Panthers attack but not everything he does shows up on the stats pages. The SI model can't quantify the impact Fisher-Harris pushing up in support, hanging around the ball player or putting a massive shot on to stop an opposition set in its tracks has on a game. It can, however, take into account his 2 tries in May along with a monster 192.2 running metres per game.
9. Brandon Smith
Remember those two or three weeks that Brandon Smith was washed and the cause of Melbourne's 1-2 start to the season?
It turns out the 25-year-old just needed a few games to become accustomed to the hooker position after spending much of 2020 playing as a bench forward, mostly as a ball-carrier in the middle.
Smith did spend one game at lock but only needed three in the #9 jersey to claim a spot in the TOTM. He has scored 3 tries himself and laid 4 on for his teammates over the last three weeks as Melbourne's primary dummy half.
Harry Grant is the best hooker at the club, but Craig Bellamy can afford to be cautious in Grant's recovery with Smith playing the way he is at the moment.
10. Moeaki Fotuaika
Moeaki Fotuaika has always flown under the radar. He has been an excellent prop for a couple of years now, but hidden away on a bad Titans team, he rarely received the recognition he deserved across 2019 and 2020. In 2021, he's behind the likes of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and David Fifita in the list of headline acts on the Gold Coast.
Still, Paul Green has found a spot for him in the Queensland Maroons side and that is in large part due to a very good month of football capped off with a huge 223-metre effort against the Sharks in Round 12.
11. Angus Crichton
Meat pies and metres highlight another big month for Angus Crichton.
He has been one of the Roosters best as they navigate a new injury every week and only needed three games in May to feature here.
His 3 tries in May takes his season total to 5 - already equal with his total for 2020. Meanwhile, his 144.5 running metres per game throughout the month take his season average up to 139running metres per game - a career-high.
12. Viliame Kikau
Viliame Kikau is doing it all for the Panthers on the left edge at the moment.
He picked up 2 tries and a try assist in May. With 11 tackle breaks and 106.5 running metres per game, the big Fijian caused havoc as a ball-carrier as well. Once the defence has Kikau in mind as an option for Jarome Luai's short ball, that opens up space out wide. He's contributing to try-scoring shifts without even touching the ball and Matt Burton, in particular, is benefiting from Kikau's gravity.
13. Jake Trbojevic
Jake Trbojevic limped through the start of the season.
Without being able to link up with his brother out the back of shape, Jake struggled to have an impact on matches outside of carting the ball up the field. But Tom's return has improved Jake's form as the pair regularly linking up with the ball in hand. They have a connection like no other on the football field and didn't take more than ten minutes to get back into the groove upon Tom's return.
It looked as though Jake would fail to retain his spot in the New South Wales Blues side, but after averaging 135.5 running metres and 35.5 tackles per game all while proving his worth as a ball-player over the last month, the 27-year-old will start Game 1 in the front row.
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