He’s been righty touted as the best player in the game today and now NSW weapon Tom Trbjoveic has been likened to the great Wally Lewis in one devastating and visionary aspect of his play.
Manly and Maroons great Chris Close is well qualified to speak on the skills of five-eighth maestro Lewis after spending the 1980s alongside him in a golden era for Queensland where Close mostly played centre, the same position from where Trbojevic will aim to inflict more pain on the Maroons on Sunday night after his man of the match performance in Game One.
“Tom is playing what he sees. He is like Wally Lewis in that sense,” Close said.
“Wally played what he saw and didn’t give a rat’s arse about convention. He didn’t really worry about what the coach told him to do. He saw what he had in front of him and put himself into the game.
“Tom does that. He could turn up anywhere. He did that to Queensland in Game One and absolutely ripped our ring holes out.”
Lewis played 34 games for Queensland. Photo Lachie MillardSource:News Corp Australia
Trbojevic will not play in a straitjacket at Suncorp Stadium. He will roam and be wherever the football is and where the Maroons won’t expect, as he was in the 50-6 win in Game One where he played “Tommy Turbo style” and popped up alongside his centre partner Latrell Mitchell to create havoc on the scoreboard. For Close, he is a throwback and unique in the modern game.
“The thing that Tom is doing that other players have forgotten about is that he is freestyling his own game. He turns up where he wants to turn up and how he wants to turn up,” Close explained.
“He’s absolutely smashing them because he is going against the norm and the robotic drill that the coaches have got them playing in by mixing his incredible talent with running his own race.
“You go back to other players from the past like Cliff Lyons who could also do that, probably without the speed that Tom has got, but at any given time they could turn up in any part of the game.
“You look at every team now. Who has got one that does that? Who has one who is willing to go against the norm and play his own game? Maybe Cameron Munster.”
On his own Trbojevic is a lethal weapon, but it is what the 24-year-old did for the rest of his teammates in Game One that has Close worried ahead of Sunday night.
“He didn’t play a conventional centre’s position and that opened the game up for Latrell Mitchell,” Close said.
“Latrell had a freedom of his own then because the Queensland centres had no idea where Tom was going to be next.
“They were knocking themselves out hanging back in defence rather than going to the ball carrier. That allowed NSW more freedom and openness in their attack and that was the death knell for us.”
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