Top 10 players yet to deliver in 2014
As the 2014 season approaches its halfway point, we name 10 players who are yet to truly deliver the goods for their respective clubs.
Ryan James (Titans)
Once upon a time hirsute behemoth James was touted as the next big thing. The 22-year-old prop managed to play for Country Origin last year but injury and indifferent form has restricted him to a mere four games in the big league this year. While age is definitely on his side he will certainly need to pick up his game for the Titans if his 64 metres and 23.8 tackles averaged per game is anything to read into.
Ben Barba (Broncos)
There is one statistic that the Broncos' fullback has been delivering big numbers in this season and it is nothing to boast to his friends about. His 20 individual errors are the second most in the competition. His failure to make any great inroads through opposition defences is notable too, having only racked up one try and one line break since joining Brisbane in the off-season. With Anthony Milford heading north in 2015, Barba may have to up the ante and start proving his own move worthwhile.
Darius Boyd (Knights)
The Newcastle fullback hasn't necessarily been playing badly but his lack of enthusiasm and failure to get his hands dirty are more than obvious telling points as to why he hasn't been setting the world on fire through the first 12 NRL rounds. While you'll see him eagerly put up his hand for Australia and Queensland throughout the year, Boyd has struggled at club level, having produced just one try assist and two line break assists. To be fair though, his scything try-saving tackle during the Warriors game last weekend is a 'keeper' for the 2014 NRL highlights reel.
Blake Ayshford (Sharks)
Cronulla's strategy of signing former Tigers players has had its moments – some decisions positive (Andrew Fifita anyone) and some not so positive. Unfortunately for those making the big decisions down at the Shire, centre Blake Ayshford has so far failed to live up to expectations. His 62.2 average metres per game is way below what's required for top-line impact while his 2.7 missed tackles ranks him in the bottom 20 per cent in his position. He's capable of better.
Sam Williams (Dragons)
With Nathan Fien and Jamie Soward leaving the Red V at the end of last season, Sam Williams was signed from Canberra to help direct the Dragons' backline. But things haven't worked out to plan. Not by a long shot. With several other options being recruited since, Williams has been restricted to four games and has dramatically fallen down the pecking order. Although his four try assists are a positive, Williams probably won't see the NRL any time soon with one Benji Marshall on their books.
Martin Kennedy (Broncos)
Having missed out on the Roosters' premiership glory because of his dodgy knees, Kennedy moved north to greener pastures in 2014 for another chance at cracking the NRL in his native Queensland. However, the grass isn't always greener on the other side and Kennedy's nine games for the Broncos this season have been underwhelming to say the least. The thought of a front-rower only making on average 7.1 runs and 67.2 metres per game is hard to fathom but it is the reality coach Anthony Griffin is facing at present.
Tim Grant (Panthers)
Since falling out of favour at the foot of the mountains and subsequently signing with the Rabbitohs for next year, Grant has failed to make any noise in a Panthers team flying high in second place. Having played for NSW only two seasons ago, Grant has been confined to six games for Penrith this year and it is reflected in his 24.2 average tackles and 86.8 metres per game.
Dane Nielsen (Warriors)
Few players have been able to carry their form from Craig Bellamy's Melbourne Storm over to their new clubs. Dane Nielsen isn't among them. The former maroons representative has been more inclined to be spotted in NSW Cup since Andrew McFadden became the Warriors' head coach. Nielsen will definitely need to deliver again soon if he wants to oust young centre pairing Konrad Hurrell and Ngani Laumape from first grade.
Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs)
It could be said that Nathan Merritt has delivered all he possibly can and will this year, with young Alex Johnston taking the spot of the 31-year-old and running with it. Hard to believe it was less than two months ago in Round 6 when Merritt broke the all-time try-scoring record for Souths. Then again, when you possess a record like that and you've played State of Origin only one year prior, it leaves you thinking that surely there has to be more to come from the veteran.
Kade Snowden (Knights)
A front-rower's job in the NRL nowadays is to lay platforms for his halves and backs to build from. Former NSW and Australian prop Snowden hasn't been playing to the standards expected of him this year. While 23.5 tackles and 103.2 metres doesn't sound all that bad, Snowden is well down on what he was producing last year. With the Knights constantly under pressure to make ends meet, Snowden is yet to deliver what has been expected of him in previous campaigns.