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Round 11 Team of the Week: Purdue strikes for Cutters

Round 11 was a week of attacking brilliance across the competition, with a number of high-scoring matches.

It kicked off with the Northern Pride recording their seventh win of the season on Friday and finished with a near-upset as the Western Clydesdales pushed Wynnum Manly Seagulls to the brink.

While some games saw true team performances across the board - like the showdown between Sunshine Coast and Tweed - other matches saw players stand up to lead the way.

For the Mackay Cutters against the PNG Hunters, forwards like Hiale Roycroft and Jamal Shibasaki set the platform for their backs to shine, with Jaxon Purdue taking full advantage to be named this week's Hostplus Cup Team of the Week captain.

Each round, Queensland Rugby League recognises the 17 best performers and names the Hostplus Cup Team of the Week, presented by Hostplus. These team selections are based not only on statistical data, but also take on board live and broadcast viewings of the games.

Round 11 Team of the Week

1. Matthew Milson - Wynnum Manly Seagulls

One of the standouts for the Seagulls all year, Milson continued his red hot form against the Western Clydesdales in a high-scoring battle on Sunday. Not only did Milson set up two tries in the six-point victory but he also amassed 165 run metres, one line break and one tackle break. Other standout fullbacks included Redcliffe's Trai Fuller in his return to Hostplus Cup from NRL, Townsville's Lennix Tovo and Central Queensland's Blake Moore. 

2. Sione Hopoate – Wynnum Manly Seagulls

The Wynnum Manly winger bagged a double on Sunday against the Clydesdales and set up a third to get his team the two points. Hopoate also smashed through 151 run metres, a line break, line break assist and seven tackle breaks to help the Seagulls into top spot on the ladder.

3. Alex Max – PNG Hunters

In stunning form this season, Max is continuing to go from strength-to-strength in his debut season. While the Hunters couldn't do enough to ice the win on Sunday against the Mackay Cutters, Max certainly pushed hard. He scored a double, amassed a massive 196 run metres, registered eight tackle busts and two line breaks and made 10 tackles.

4. Will Partridge – Northern Pride

The Northern Pride centre was instrumental against Souths Logan on Friday, earning himself two four-pointers to help his team to a crucial win ahead of a bye week. Partridge also had 159 run metres, four tackle breaks, one line break and 10 tackles. Other impressive centres from the weekend included Souths Logan's Ethan Quai-Ward, Mackay's Josh Smith and Sunshine Coast pairing Jack Howarth and Young Tonumaipea.

5. Blake Paskins – Norths Devils

Another outside back with two tries to his name in Round 11 was Norths' Blake Paskins. In a big win over the Ipswich Jets, Paskins was hard to handle with 133 run metres, six tackle breaks and two line breaks. Other big performances from wingers included Paskins' teammate, Manase Kaho, Tweed's Brayden McGrady and Townsville's Kalifa Faifai Loa.

Gerome Burns in action. Photo: Chloe Davis/QRL
Gerome Burns in action. Photo: Chloe Davis/QRL

6. Gerome Burns – Norths Devils 

There's nothing like coming up against your old team to get you really firing, and this was certainly the case for former Jets playmaker Burns on Sunday. One of the leaders in the Petero Civoniceva Medal tally, Burns continued his strong season with an attacking masterclass on Sunday. The five-eighth crossed three times for the Devils - showing plenty of flair - and recorded six tackle busts, 114 run metres and one line break, as well as 19 tackles. Another No.6 worthy of a mention is Mackay's Riley Dean who scored a try and set up two more for his team.

7. Jaxon Purdue – Mackay Cutters (C)

The young North Queensland Cowboys affiliate was a sensation against the PNG Hunters on Sunday. In his best game so far this season, Purdue stood up when the Cutters needed a win, proving to be an absolute danger with the ball in hand. Not only did he amass 210 run metres, but he scored a try, set up another four-pointer, had seven tackle busts, three line breaks and an offload and 16 tackles. Tom Duffy also had a strong performance against the Magpies, with a try and two assists, 47 run metres, a tackle bust and a line break assist.

8. Junior Rop – PNG Hunters

In a tough battle against the Cutters, Rop set the standard early, crossing twice within the opening 20 minutes. The tough prop played a total of 45 minutes, notching up 71 run metres, three tackle breaks, one line break, an offload and 20 tackles.

9. Jayden Hodges – Townsville Blackhawks

In his second game back from injury, veteran hooker Hodges was strong against the Central Queensland Capras in a solid win for his team. In an instrumental all-round 52-minute performance, Hodges scored a try and set up another. He also had a line break, a line break assist, three tackle breaks, an offload, 27 tackles and 70 run metres.

10. Tevita Pangai Jr – Souths Logan Magpies

In just his second game of the season - and his first game starting - Pangai Jr made quite an impact against the Northern Pride on Friday. While a win was out of reach, the former Brisbane Broncos forward was hard to contain with 171 run metres, four tackle breaks, three offloads and 18 tackles in 52 minutes on the field. Another strong prop performance was that of Mackay's Jamal Shibasaki, who scored a try and worked through 151 run metres in 58 minutes. Nick Brown was also important for Townsville.

11. Hiale Roycroft – Mackay Cutters

It was a big captain's knock from Roycroft to get the Cutters back into the winner's circle in Round 11. Coming up against the Hunters pack is never an easy task but Roycroft rose to the occasion. He got through a mountain of work, including 141 run metres, five tackle busts, an offload and 33 tackles, setting the platform for players like Purdue to shine.

12. Dane Aukafolau – Northern Pride

The Pride backrower is getting stronger each week. Praised by coach Eric Smith for his efforts on Friday, Aukafolau added to his tally with another try and also recorded 141 run metres, a line break and tackle break, as well as 28 tackles.

13. Sam Coster – Burleigh Bears

The Bears couldn't get the win over the Redcliffe Dolphins but it was again lock Sam Coster who led from the front as they pushed their opponent to the dying minutes. Coster had a huge 47 tackles with just one miss and also ran for 119 metres with two tackle breaks and two offloads.

Clifford. Photo: NRL Imagery
Clifford. Photo: NRL Imagery

14. Jake Clifford – Northern Pride

The North Queensland Cowboys playmaker combined strongly with Duffy to help deliver the Pride their seventh win of the season on Friday. Clifford bagged a double and set up another try while also running for 130 metres with four tackle breaks, two line breaks and 14 tackles.

15. Max Bailey – Redcliffe Dolphins

Leading from the front as he has done all season long, the Redcliffe skipper was key in his side's victory over the Burleigh Bears. In 55 minutes, Bailey had 165 run metres, a tackle break and 27 tackles.

16. Josh James – Redcliffe Dolphins

One of the breakout players of 2024, James has arrived in the Hostplus Cup in style. Kicking a late field goal, the halfback also set up a try, recorded 73 run metres and a line break assist, kicked for 258 metres off 12 kicks and made 26 tackles.

17. Taniela Otukolo - Western Clydesdales

The Clydesdales came so close to recording the upset of the round, finishing just six points short of Wynnum Manly. A key part of this was hooker Taniela Otukolo. He had 111 run metres, eight tackle breaks, three offloads, a line break and 43 tackles through the middle.

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Main image: Jaxon Purdue. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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