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Broncos prove us wrong, but Roosters still No.1

Andrew Voss says the Roosters are still the premiership frontrunners despite a mixed start to the season. Copyright: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos. Credit: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos Copyright: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Andrew Voss tackles the week's big issues in the NRL.

1. Are the Roosters still the premiership favourites?

I say absolutely.

I reckon they still have the best goal-line defence in the NRL and that will stand up when we get to the business end of the competition. And despite a mediocre 2-2 start to the year, only two sides have conceded fewer points than the Roosters (Manly and the Bulldogs).

That's also despite the much-publicised lopsided penalty counts they have had to contend with in three of their four matches so far.

Sure they have room for improvement, but I don't think anyone has gone past them yet in this incredible competition that has just two points separating the top 12 teams.

2. Is Konrad Hurrell going to realise his potential?

Yes… I think so… probably.

Saturday looms as real big test for the Warriors centre when his team take on Cronulla.

Hurrell has been named in the starting side for the first time this year after being overlooked for selection for the opening two rounds, and then being used off the bench in the past fortnight.

I thought it was close to a career best impact last weekend against the Tigers in Wellington after replacing the injured and luckless Jerome Ropati.

Quite simply, Hurrell didn't have a bad touch… but importantly, he played smart.

I think we all have to keep reminding ourselves that this is only his fourth year in rugby league. Growing up in Tonga he'd barely heard of the sport. It's history now that he burst on to the scene in 2011 running amok in the NYC.

I like Konrad on and off the field. He has a personality that I don't think Australian fans have seen too much of.

He's just the solid young bloke at the Warriors who blows a kiss to his mum after he scores a try.

Well I've got the feeling Mrs Fatafehi Hurrell may be in for plenty of kisses in 2014. I think the penny dropped last Saturday for Konrad. He is now aware how good he can be, and that there is more to being a class centre than just running hard.

3. What does "by mutual agreement" really mean?

Does anyone really believe that there was mutual consent that Andrew Fifita's lucrative Bulldogs contract be torn up?

Come off it!

I refuse to believe that Fifita's management turned up for their meeting with Canterbury management on Monday with the thought they would willingly terminate proceedings.

I have no problem with what the Bulldogs did. Just as Fifita originally made a business decision to leave the Sharks, Canterbury made a business decision to now let him pass.

Rugby league from time to time can be the biggest soap opera in sport. Let the Fifita/Bulldogs no-deal be one if its most staggering episodes.

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4. How many of you sold the Broncos short at the start of the year?

Plenty. I know I certainly did.

However, wins over the Bulldogs, Cowboys and Dragons, and a last-minute loss to the Roosters, have made for a damn good first month in the 2014 Telstra premiership.

It is far cry from what I witnessed first-hand in their final trial match pre-season in Dunedin. For the record, let me declare they were a rabble, thumped 48-4 by the Warriors.

What is coming through in my opinion is that the Broncos may be up with the fittest sides in the competition, which is a credit to chief conditioner Alex Corvo who introduced a different approach to the team's training for this season.

The Broncos will tell you how at his first session Ben Barba threw up, while fellow new recruit Stewart Mills fainted. The key has been more running and longer sessions.

It would seem the adage "no pain, no gain" lives on through Brisbane. 

5. Can we now all agree the Rugby League World Cup was a success?

Only stubbornness from some quarters sees an answer of no.

But let me spell out the facts as presented by the Rugby Football League in their World Cup review announced this week.

The World Cup posted a profit of 3.7 million pounds ($6.7 million). That's double the previous record set at the 2008 World Cup.

A total of 458,463 spectators attended the 28 matches. For 14 per cent of those it was their first time at a rugby league game.

There were eight sellouts and eight stadium record crowds for rugby league, including the world-record league Test crowd at the Old Trafford final.

The World Cup is back. We will have it every four years. And rugby league will be the stronger for it.

6. How should we cover the Alex McKinnon story?

In my opinion, simple. With the utmost respect and sensitivity for Alex and his family.

There is quite simply no glory or kudos to be had with snaring a supposed 'exclusive' in regards to Alex's plight.

I am yet to talk to a league fan that thinks otherwise. They have the greatest concern for this young fella, but as keen as they are to know of his condition, will be satisfied to just receive updates when there is something to tell, via his club at Newcastle.

And can we please stop showing replays of the fateful tackle. If ever reference needs to be made to Alex, how about a package of some of his playing career highlights?

I concede I have never been a newspaper editor, nor the man in charge of a television newsroom. They are in highly competitive markets.

But can we just make an exception in the case of the Alex McKinnon story and back off.

Follow Andrew Voss on Twitter: @AndrewVoss9

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