Inside the 2013 NRL Team of the Year

HARARE - The Lion Lager National Rugby League (NRL) Team of the Year, chosen by a panel of journalists, has generated debate on social networks.
The Daily News’ expert rugby writer, Brian Matamba, who was part of the panel, justifies the scribe’s choices.

Backs

Fullback: (Tangai Nemadire, Old Hararians) – The Zimbabwe international flyer, who crossed the Great Divide this season from Harare Sports Club, had an outstanding season for the Green Machine. “Too Bad” was very calm under the high ball and extremely dangerous on the counter with his fancy footwork. Nemadire scored some vital tries during the course of the season, which proved to be decisive in the end.

Right Wing: (Gardner Nechironga, Old Hararians) – The speed merchant,  who was another major signing for OH at the beginning of the season, had a terrific year and was deadly mostly when he chose to attack from the midfield channel coming off his wing position. He was effective at sucking in the opposition’s defence.

Outside Centre: (Lungile Tshuma, Old Hararians) – He was one of the players in the league who had the most line breaks this season. Tshuma had superb running lines but ultimately he possessed a total package, solid in clearing his line with the boot and barely missed a tackle in defence.

Inside Centre: (Simbarashe Chirimuta, Harare Sports Club) – The young Harare Sports Club centre seems to be growing in stature with each season passing. Last year he was voted the rookie of the Year of the league. This year he put a sterling performance with his tackling skills and ability to breach tight defences.

Left Wing: (Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Old Georgians) – The Sables diminutive wing was another player who set the season alight for OGs with his electrifying pace and prolific finishing.

Flyhalf: (Tichafara Makwanya, Old Hararians) – The Old Boys skipper was accurate with the boot, his vision and finesse was instrumental in his team’s charge towards the title.

Scrumhalf: (Phil Machisa, Harare Sports Club) – The pint-sized scrumhalf’s command around the rucks and ball distribution was phenomenal. His ability to read and dictate the game made him a genuine game breaker.

Forwards

Eighthman: (Andrew Rose, Old Georgians) – He made a massive impact for the Groombridge-based team during his short stint with them. Was good both with ball in hand and in defence. He had a high tackle rate, always looking for work. Rose’s exploits did not go unnoticed as he was rewarded with a national team call-up.

Blind-side Flank: (Jacques Leitao, Old Georgians) – The experienced Zimbabwe loose forward  did not have things going his way this season as he suffered a couple  injuries during the campaign.  But he proved once more his not a spent force and was solid in defence.

Open-side Flank: (Farai Jijita, Old Georgians) – He was a menace on the deck and his ability to inflict turnovers at the breakdown made him a rare asset. He impressed mostly on the offense, where he was very adventurous with silky skills and proved to be the worst nightmare for opposing teams’ defence mechanism. He was hard to contain.

Lock: (Jonathan Goosen, Old Georgians) – His lineout and kickoff reception was exceptional. He was also a good at conducting mauls, which was Old Georgians’ most lethal weapon.

Lock: (Costa Dinha, Old Hararians) – The 37-year-old veteran proved they is no substitute for experience as he led from the front, guiding his side to their first league title in eight years with his impressive line out skills and immense work rate at rucks. He barely set a foot wrong in 2013.

Tight-head Prop: (Jakov Jakov, Old Georgians) – He was solid at set pieces and his work rate around the field.

Hooker: (Keith Murray, Old Georgians) – Despite only featuring the last quarter of the season, the former Lions front rower proved why his arguably the best hooker in the country at the moment. He was impressive with ball in hand and scored some beautiful tries that backline players would really envy.

Loose-head Prop: (Pieter Joubert, Old Georgians) – He was a key member of the Old Georgians pack of forward which was pretty dominate the entire 2013 competition. He also silenced his growing band of critics with his ever improving scrummage skills, which have been questioned in the past and showed he can hold his own body weight. He made light work of most of his opponents.

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