Super League Team of the Week: St Helens trio, Leeds Rhinos pair, Huddersfield Giants duo

Ben Olawumi
Super League Team of the Week: Round 1

The Love Rugby League Super League Team of the Week: Round 1

The first Love Rugby League Super League Team of the Week is here!

After discussion and debate aplenty over the weekend at LRL towers, find out who we thought the standout performers in Round 1 were below…

1. Jack Welsby (St Helens)

Jack Welsby
St Helens’ Jack Welsby (centre) celebrates his try against London Broncos in Round 1 – Alamy

Round 1 didn’t provide the weather for full-backs to excel by any stretch of the imagination. We saw some #1’s forced off through injury, slips all over the place, and handling errors aplenty.

Welsby slots in with a try and two assists to his name in Saints’ 40-4 win against Super League newcomers London Broncos, twice setting up new boy Matt Whitley.

READ NEXT: Inside the Deal – How St Helens fended off NRL interest to secure Jack Welsby with a new long-term contract

2. Niall Evalds (Hull KR)

The first of the six debutants comes out on the right flank, with Evalds impressing in the Hull derby which opened up the new Super League season on Thursday night following his off-season move to KR.

Trampling over two Hull FC defenders for the opening try of the year, he then fended off pressure from Jordan Lane to slide over in the corner at the other end to round off proceedings late on, 22-0 the final score.

3. Nene Macdonald (Salford Red Devils)

Papua New Guinea international Macdonald is the only man who makes the cut for our Team of the Week that ended up on the losing side. Making your debut adds pressure at the best of times, but to do it against the club you left in such strange circumstances increases that pressure even more.

Salford may have lost out 22-16 against Leeds Rhinos, but the centre made the joint-second-most carries in the game (15) and the most metres of any Red Devils player (142), the only one to make over 100. No doubting his commitment to the cause.

READ NEXT: Nene Macdonald reveals he rejected NRL offers to join Salford as Kumuls star discusses unsavoury Leeds exit 

4. Esan Marsters (Huddersfield Giants)

Esan Marsters
Huddersfield Giants’ Esan Marsters in action against Leigh Leopards in Round 1 – Alamy

Huddersfield pulled off the ‘shock’ result of Round 1 with a hard-fought 16-8 win away against Leigh Leopards, and centre Marsters has a big hand in that, as we detailed in our post-match stats analysis. The Cook Islands international was alert to a slice of good fortune to ground the ball for the game’s opening try 10 minutes in.

He followed that bit of luck up with a ‘Mastersclass’ in how to help your side come out on top in a gritty game of little quality though. Marsters (150) made the most metres of any Giants player, with Leigh prop Robbie Mulhern (159) the only other player anywhere near that tally.

5. Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos)

Bagging a brace of tries, birthday boy Handley had a big hand in Leeds’ 22-16 opening round win over Salford, with the first a stunning solo effort which saw him run pretty much the full length.

Weaving his way down the field and finishing in the left-hand corner, that effort contributed heavily towards his 173 metres made on the night, the most of anyone on the pitch. The winger doubled his tally soon after, touching the ball down having been the first to a kick through by team-mate Rhyse Martin.

6. Jordan Abdull (Catalans Dragons)

Abdull‘s Catalans debut brought a 16-10 victory over Warrington Wolves, and with a hand in both of the Dragons’ tries, we couldn’t overlook him for an inclusion in this Team of the Week.

The loanee’s kicks caused Wire issues throughout, and he followed up on one which bounced to crash over the line towards the end of the first half, sending Steve McNamara’s side in with the lead at the break. He also grabbed the assist for Arthur Mourgue’s second half try, finding him in a pocket of space to allow the Frenchman to dart over. A sterling first runout.

READ NEXT: Ranked – The number of signings made by every Super League club ahead of the 2024 season

7. Mikey Lewis (Hull KR)

Mikey Lewis
Mikey Lewis celebrates Hull KR’s derby day win at Hull FC on Super League 2024’s opening night – Alamy

Abdull’s former team-mate Lewis was the star of the show on Super League’s opening night in the Hull derby. Ahead of the game, he spoke to Love Rugby League about what it means to be involved as a local lad, detailing how the rivalry splits his family.

Those in the red and white half will certainly have been pleased with what they saw, impressive in every aspect, with a try – and trademark celebration – to boot. With two assists also to his name, he won Sky Sports’ Man of the Match, and takes the #7 spot in our team.

8. Sam Lisone (Leeds Rhinos)

Lisone celebrates his 29th birthday today (February 19), and marked it with the winning try in Leeds’ victory over Salford at Headingley on Friday night, running onto captain Cameron Smith’s short ball to push over with three Red Devils trying to stop him doing so.

Four tackle busts in total evidence the Samoa international using his power and strength to his advantage, and if the Rhinos can get a tune out of him all season, they’ll be on the right track. Notably, he only got four tries in the entirety of 2023, so one from one to begin this one isn’t a bad start.

9. Daryl Clark (St Helens)

Clark spoke exclusively to Love Rugby League ahead of the season’s start about putting the pressure of taking over Saints’ #9 shirt aside and wanting to write his own name into their history books.

Clearly, there’s a long way to go before that happens, but he impressed against London on Friday night. 10 years on from his Man of Steel-winning campaign with Castleford, he began life in the Red V with a try and an assist, making 33 tackles in the process.

READ NEXT: The four best and funniest moments you might have missed from Super League’s opening round

10. Patrick Mago (Wigan Warriors)

Patrick Mago
Wigan Warriors prop Patrick Mago is tackled by three Castleford Tigers players having made a break in Round 1 – Alamy

Super League’s reigning champions Wigan got their title defence underway with a 32-4 win at Castleford Tigers on Saturday night, with interchange Mago grabbing the game’s first try shortly before the end of the first half when he benefitted from Luke Hooley’s handling error.

A little over three minutes later, Matt Peet’s men had scored again, and Mago got a tidy assist as Bevan French slid over. With an all-round solid performance from the big man, it looked like his off-season diet switch-up had paid off.

11. Jack Murchie (Huddersfield Giants)

Off-season NRL recruit Murchie enjoyed a fine start to life as a Giant as Ian Watson’s side picked up their win at Leigh, making 29 tackles to more than play his part in a top notch defensive effort.

Going the other way, the second-rower made 137 metres, with his average gain the best on the night of any player barring the Leopards’ Edwin Ipape, whose data will be skewed given he only played circa 10 minutes before being forced off with an injury. Murchie won Sky’s Man of the Match, and earns his place in this Team of the Week.

READ NEXT: Super League Casualty Ward featuring every club, including timeframes and expected returns

12. Matt Whitley (St Helens)

The sixth and final debutant in the first ‘best 13’ of the season is Whitley, who – as already mentioned – grabbed two assists in his first runout for hometown club Saints.

Whitley also grabbed an assist, setting up Welsby for the Red V’s second of the game prior to getting his own name on the scoresheet. Combine those moments with the 135 metres he made overall, and he’s off to a great start.

13. Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons)

Veteran McMeeken slotted in at loose for Catalans on Saturday evening against Warrington, playing just over a half of rugby all-told with interchange timings considered.

Given that, 27 tackles with just two missed, a pair of tackle busts and a seven-metre average gain aren’t bad going at all, particularly when you consider the extra work the French side had to put in following Micky McIlorum’s dismissal. McMeeken scooped Sky’s Man of the Match medal, and rounds off our Team of the Week for Round 1.

READ NEXT: Super League Round 1 talking points: Magic Mikey, Slammin’ Sam (Lisone), Huddersfield Giants…