Super League Team of the Week: Hull KR trio, three players from Catalans Dragons

Ben Olawumi
Super League Team of the Week Round Two

Jez Litten, Paul Vaughan and Chris Satae are in our Team of the Week

After much discussion and debate over the weekend at Love Rugby League HQ, we’ve finally settled on our Super League Team of the Week from Round Two.

Please note: As you’d expect, this is Super League only. Therefore, no Wigan Warriors players are included in this XIII after their World Club Challenge triumph against Penrith Panthers.

1. Jack Welsby (St Helens)

Jack Welsby St Helens Alamy
Jack Welsby scoring a try for St Helens

Welsby is the first of four to maintain a 100 per cent in our Team of the Weeks, named for the second week running after another impressive performance in Saints‘ 28-0 victory over Huddersfield Giants on Saturday evening.

Paul Wellens’ side didn’t get out of first gear, and didn’t need to, but Welsby – with his usual quality – helped the Red V carve open the hosts’ defence with a try of his own as well as an assist. We all know how good he is, and he continues to shine.

2. Ryan Hall (Hull KR)

Ryan Hall Hull KR Alamy
Ryan Hall scores a try for Hull KR in 2024

Veteran winger Hall opened his account for the season on Friday night when he crossed the whitewash in Hull KR‘s 22-12 win over his former club Leeds Rhinos on Thursday night, with that try taking him to within six of former team-mate Danny McGuire’s all-time record in the competition.

At 36, he not only continues to be a thorn in the side of opposition defences near the line, but consistently makes life hard work for whoever he’s up against. At Craven Park against the Rhinos, he made 160 metres, more than all bar one other players on the field, who we’ll get onto shortly.

3. Nene Macdonald (Salford Red Devils)

Nene Macdonald Salford Red Devils Alamy
Nene Macdonald celebrates his try for Salford Red Devils against Castleford Tigers - Alamy

Papua New Guinea international Macdonald is loving life at Salford Red Devils following his off-season move, boss Paul Rowley waxing lyrical about him after a 26-22 success against Castleford Tigers in their home opener yesterday.

The centre missed out on Sky Sports’ man of the match, but was the man chosen by a mass of sponsors at the Salford Stadium yesterday afternoon after a game which saw him make more metres than anyone else on the field (167), rock solid in defence and quality in attack. His best moment – the mesmerising try below on the stroke of half-time.

RED DEVIL: Nene Macdonald providing much more than tries for Salford Red Devils after first victory

4. Sam Wood (Castleford Tigers)

Sam Wood Castleford Tigers Alamy

Macdonald’s opposite centre yesterday was Wood, who also joined a new club this off-season in the shape of Castleford, and impressed on Sunday with the second-highest metre count (121) behind only the Red Devils’ star man.

It’s always more difficult to include a player after they’ve ended up on the losing side, but we couldn’t ignore what was a tremendous showing from the 26-year-old. Wood also got his name on the scoresheet in the first half as he ran onto a short ball from Jacob Miller to power over the line, handing Cas a lifeline after a woeful start, so he’s done enough to earn this spot.

RELATED: Castleford boss Craig Lingard confirms teamsheet blunder and interchange sanction following Salford defeat

5. Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos)

Ash Handley Leeds Rhinos Alamy
Leeds winger Ash Handley

We referenced that there was someone who made more metres than Hall at Craven Park on Thursday night, and it was this man – Handley – who gets in our Team of the Week for the second Monday on the spin.

With another absolutely tremendous four-pointer, thanks in a very large part to Brodie Croft’s inch-perfect delicate kick out wide early on in a set, the Rhinos winger is on for a try of the season competition with himself the way it’s going. And with those two near-full lengthers included, the academy product is Super League‘s top metre maker at the moment. A great first fortnight.

ANALYSIS: A formative and fearless night for Rhinos starlet Alfie Edgell

6. Theo Fages (Catalans Dragons)

Theo Fages Catalans Dragons Alamy

Frenchman Fages made the move back to his native country and Perpignan in the off-season, hoping to pick up a third Grand Final winners’ medal with the Dragons after their two falls at the final hurdle over the previous three seasons.

He impressed on Friday night at London Broncos with two tries as Catalans dispatched Super League’s newcomers with the ease you’d expect them too, taking the No. 6 spot in our Team of the Week accordingly after the 34-0 rout.

7. Marc Sneyd (Salford Red Devils)

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Marc Sneyd in action for Salford Red Devils

Sneyd’s kicking game has been – and always will be – an absolute joke in the best possible way. There’s not many who can affect games with the boot so heavily, and when he’s given the chance, you’d back him from virtually anywhere to slot the ball between the sticks stood over a conversion.

Having a big hand in at least three of the Red Devils’ four tries, he went 5/5 in Salford’s win over Cas, scooping Sky’s man of the match and a place in our best 13 of Round 2. But it’s not just his kicking, it’s his all-round game and rugby league nouse – using all of the allotted time to take a penalty to relieve some pressure midway through the second half yesterday. A true stalwart.

GOLDEN BOOTS: Super League’s most successful goal kickers: The 10 best with the boot ahead of the 2024 season

8. Chris Satae (Catalans Dragons)

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Chris Satae in action for Catalans

If fans of the club you’re leaving don’t want you to, as Hull FC fans didn’t with Satae who joined Catalans in the off-season, then you know you’re on to a winner.

In a side competing at the top of the tree, the powerhouse prop is going to get his chance to shine even more, and so it proved on Friday night in the capital when he took in 16 carries, amassing a huge 172 metres. An 11-metre average gain is no mean feat, regardless of the opponent. Sensational stuff.

9. Jez Litten (Hull KR)

Jez Litten Hull KR Alamy

Litten’s average gain was also 11 metres on Thursday when Hull KR beat Leeds, and even without the statistics to back it up, he was absolutely electric, which is why Sky chose him as their man of the match on the night. His drop of the shoulder and run from dummy-half with the kick through for the Robins’ first try was excellent, and set the precedent for some terrific play to come.

The 25-year-old is a player capable of getting you off your seat as a supporter every single week, ‘twinkle toes’ at the ready to impress in attack and prepared to put the work in defensively too, 31 tackles on Thursday evidencing exactly that.

10. Paul Vaughan (Warrington Wolves)

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Paul Vaughan on the charge for Warrington

Another Sky man of the match from Round 2’s action was prop Vaughan, earned via an astute performance against Hull FC in Warrington‘s 36-10 win on Friday night.

The former Australia and Italy international’s 182 metres were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his work in ensuring Wire were able to overpower their opponents, even more so after FC had been reduced following Fa’amanu Brown’s red card. Vaughan is a real leader at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, and that was clear to see throughout that game.

11. Tariq Sims (Catalans Dragons)

Tariq Sims Catalans Dragons Alamy

It’s not new news, but Sims is going to be a cheat code for Catalans this year, particularly near the line. When he’s running at opponents at full pelt anywhere near the whitewash, there won’t be many who stop him.

A brace of tries on Friday away at London saw the Fiji international open up his Super League account following his off-season move over from the NRL. The Dragons have a highly experienced pro within their ranks.

12. Matt Whitley (St Helens)

Matt Whitley St Helens Alamy

The last of the four to go back-to-back in our first two Team of the Weeks – and the only forward to do so – is Whitley, whose time at hometown club St Helens couldn’t be going much better so far.

Against Huddersfield on Saturday evening, the 28-year-old opened the scoring as he was first to the ball to ground Jonny Lomax’s grubber kick through, taking his tally up to three tries in two appearances. As we’ve already mentioned, Saints didn’t really have to get out of first gear, but if Whitley can keep performing while not at full pelt, it’s a recipe for success.

RELATED: Matt Whitley already looks at home in a St Helens side seamlessly into their groove

13. Elliot Minchella (Hull KR)

Elliot Minchella Hull KR Alamy

Rounding off this week’s best 13 is KR captain Minchella, whose leadership role was on show throughout their win over Leeds. Leading the way as one of the Robins’ top tacklers, only full-back Hiku (18) carried the ball in more often than the skipper (17).

One of those carries late on, with Minchella looking destined to power over, teased Sam Lisone into a late flailing arm which brought a sin-bin for the Rhinos man. And in the 10 minutes he was off the field, KR were able to seal the deal, with Litten kicking the resulting penalty and Hiku himself getting the all-important try to kill it off. Minchella is a leader in every sense of the word.

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