Do Cronulla have the most powerful centre combination in the NRL?
Last week it was Siosifa Talakai who grabbed the headlines with his 17-tackle bust performance against Newcastle and Origin centre Dane Gagai.
On Sunday, it was Jesse Ramien’s turn to take centre stage with a five-star performance at PointsBet Stadium.
Ramien had two try assists, eight tackle breaks, three offloads, one linebreak and a try as the Sharks cruised to their fourth straight win against the Wests Tigers.
"I thought he was outstanding today,” Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon said of Ramien.
“Jessie’s in a good space at the moment; he’s training really hard and preparing really well
"He’s a handful when he’s got his mind at it and he’s just very focused at the moment.
“Sifa had a breakout game last week and had a lot of talk around him this week and I thought he did well today and had a solid performance.”
Ramien makes it look easy
Sione Katoa was the beneficiary of Ramien’s silky footwork and brute strength crossing for two first half tries while Ramien regularly put his hand up for carries — a knock on his game in previous years.
Together with Talakai, who didn’t see as much quality ball this week but still threatened with every touch, the pair combined for more than 300-metres (including more than 100 post contact) as the Sharks took full advantage of simple Wests Tigers errors.
After a sublime first half, the second stanza continued in the same fashion for Ramien winning possession for his team when he dived on ball when there was no dummy half. Not long after Talakai sent Ronaldo Mulitalo over in the corner.
With ball in hand the pair command the attention of multiple defenders making them just as valuable decoy options for Nicho Hynes and Matt Moylan. Out of their own end, they are a forward’s best friend with their tough runs often bending the defensive line.
It’s not just the big plays. The kick chases, the work off the ball to create an option for their playmakers and the crisp passes from dummy half are the one-percenters most fans don’t fully grasp their importance. But their teammates appreciate it.
Defensively they make up for their lack of lateral movement with an intimidation factor that has opposing players fearing they will be the next viral video on social media.
The pair face the toughest task on Saturday night when they play Melbourne at AAMI Park. No team better tests both sides of the ball than the Storm. But the Sharks pair enter the game full of confidence to handle the challenge.