NRL’s most notorious flat-track bully

Titans colossus David Fifita is fast developing a reputation of being the NRL’s most notorious flat-track bully.

On the surface of it, Fifita has had a good season, scoring 12 tries in 14 games for the Gold Coast, including two hat-tricks.

But Fifita has had the habit of going missing in some big games, as was the case last Friday night in the vital clash against the Eels.

The highest-paid player at the Titans, Fifita was hooked 30 minutes into the game after making just three runs for 18 metres. Fifita didn’t return until the game was done and dusted and finished with just 67 metres for the night.

Throw in two under-whelming performances in Origin and you can see why people are questioning Fifita’s effectiveness in big games where the opposition hit him and hit him hard.

One of the NRL’s most damaging runners when opposition teams don’t want to tackle, Fifita will need to pick up his game against the top teams to become a more valuable asset for the Titans.

SMITH’S STAR FINALLY ON THE RISE

Billy Smith’s injury woes over the past three years have been well documented – so it’s great to finally see what the kid can do.

The Roosters are convinced they have a star in the making and Smith certainly knows his way to the tryline.

The speedy centre has now played four NRL games – and scored a try in every one of them.

Against the Cowboys on Saturday, he showed strength and speed to get over the line and if he can stay healthy, will be a player to watch in the finals.

RAIDERS ROLLER-COASTER BACK ON TRACK

It’s been a roller-coaster season for Canberra, but Ricky Stuart looks have ridden out the storm and has his team looking finals-bound.

The 34-18 win over the Sharks on Saturday gave the Raiders back-to-back wins for only the second time this season – since rounds one and two.

With the likes of Josh Papalii, Jack Wighton and Josh Hodgson, the Raiders are one of the few teams capable of worrying the Big Two, Melbourne and Penrith, in the games ahead.

BELLAMY WORKS HIS MAGIC ON JENNINGS

I’ve said it time and again – Craig Bellamy makes average players into good ones and George Jennings is the latest example of that.

The 27-year-old winger has been in and out of the top grade for the past six seasons at Panthers, Eels and Warriors without setting the world on fire.

This year, he made the move to the Storm and in his 50th career game, bagged a double against the Knights on the weekend to take his season tally to 11 tries – a personal best.

Jennings is also averaging 130 run metres a game, many of them hard yards up the middle that are taking the pressure off his forwards.

Previously known as “Michael Jennings’ little brother”, he is carving a fine career in his own right in yet another Storm success story.

STORM STRIKE FIRST, STRIKE HARD, NO MERCY

Still on the Storm, Bellamy has his players striking hard and striking early – and rival teams have no answer.

In their last three games, the Storm have led 40-0, 30-0, 30-0 – a remarkable tally of 100 to nil.

Those huge leads have allowed the Storm to coast to victory in the second half – as well as give key players an early mark at this busy stage of the season.

MANLY MONSTER A MASSIVE IMPROVER

When you look at the big improvers of 2021, few can match powerhouse Manly ball-runner Haumole Olakau’atu.

The 22-year-old made his debut in 2019 but played just seven games in the last two seasons.

This year he has become a regular for Des Hasler and was outstanding in Manly’s win over the Dragons on Friday night, creating a try for centre Morgan Harper and then scoring a barnstorming solo try himself.

PANTHERS POWERHOUSE PACKING PUNCH AGAIN

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the Panthers weren’t all that thrilled with the form of gentle giant Viliame Kikau and had a quiet word to him.

Judging by the Panthers’ performance against the Warriors on Sunday, Kikau got the message.

The big man bagged two tries in Penrith’s 30-16 win and also came up with a line break.

While the Panthers took the points, all the praise was for the courage of the Warriors, who lost Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (concussion) Wayde Egan (shoulder), Tohu Harris (knee) and Rocco Berry (hamstring) in the first half but never threw in the towel.

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