Andrew Voss gives his take on the week that was in the NRL.
1. NRL Crowds…is the sky really falling?
Gee, can't we as league fans find something to whinge about?
Here's a statistic that was somehow ignored in all the coverage of the opening round attendances: in five of the eight Round 1 matches, the home side actually drew above their season average from 2013!
I thought the crowds at Penrith and Parramatta were excellent. Likewise Brookvale.
And if anyone thinks that getting just short of 20,000 for the Dragons and the Tigers at ANZ Stadium could have been matched at another venue, they are kidding themselves.
However, I stand by my thoughts pre round one that seven games in Sydney was way too many. I don't think we will see that happening again in the future.
An opening round should always embrace as many areas as possible. We should have been in Auckland and Brisbane as well at the very least.
2. Can scrums get any more irrelevant?
My answer is no.
Look … I know 'real' scrums died years ago, and what we've seen since is some sort of mutation, but as I watched round one last weekend I came to realise it is now time to erase this facet of play from the game altogether.
And that's a big statement because I am actually a traditionalist.
But how embarrassing is it, with the addition of spidercam to the television coverage, to see scrums from overhead.
What had degenerated into a cuddle is now nothing more than 12 witches hats. The players barely bind.
Watching Saturday night's game in Townsville, Canberra delivered the final embarrassing blows. The sight of Josh McCrone packing in at prop beggared belief.
But throughout the match, the scrum feeds of Terry Campese were just straight out taking the mickey. One-handed rolls at right angles to the opposition front row…. And not a word said.
The defence for scrums to remain had always been that it took six players (forwards) out of the defensive line enabling a chance to attack. But the whole thing breaks up so quickly these days with the referee even telling teams when the ball is out.
Scrums: pointless. Dead. Gone. Forever. Amen.
3. Are the Warriors the real deal… take two!
(Cough… cough… splutter) Did I say that here last week
Yes, I believe the Warriors will still make the top eight.
However of greatest alarm in week one was their defence across all three grades; not just the 36 points and eight line breaks conceded against Parramatta in the NRL fixture.
Their NSW Cup team was well beaten by Wentworthville, and in the Holden Cup the young Eels racked up 50 against them.
On Saturday they play their biggest bogey team in the NRL, the Dragons. St George Illawarra has won 16 of their 20 previous clashes with the Warriors, including the last eight straight.
I am hearing of wild storms, rain and wind forecast for Eden Park. A dark cloud may remain over Auckland if the home team loses.
4. Have we got the shoulder charge penalties right?
Yes and no. I understand what the NRL is trying to achieve in taking the shoulder charge out of the game, while not being the biggest supporter of the rule change last year.
However I want a judiciary penalty system that keeps our players on the field rather than weeks sidelined, with the exception being the most violent incidents. (And we don't have too many of them these days.)
Can't we come up with a combination of a suspension and a fine?
And on the same issue, it would be hard to explain in a court of law how Andrew McCullough is clear to play this week while Sonny Bill Williams and Andrew Fifita are suspended for three and two games respectively, in light of the Broncos hooker's careless tackle against the Bulldogs.
5. Which young player really caught the eye in Round 1?
Jason Taumalolo. I am so happy to see this kid start the season the way he did against Canberra.
Taumalolo was awesome. And how quick is he?
Since making his debut as a 17-year-old in 2010, he hasn't really captured too many headlines.
On what I saw last Saturday night in Townsville he is set for a huge year, and should even lay claim for a New Zealand Test jumper.
Look out Brisbane Friday night at Suncorp.
6. Will trying to tip winners in the NRL this season send you crazy?
Yes. I landed three out of eight in week one, how did you go?
Teams coming back from 20- and 16-point deficits can do your head in… Set yourself for another wild ride in 2014 in pursuit of selecting the perfect round.
Keep the dartboard, a cup of tealeaves and the names of the 16 NRL teams in a hat handy.
You are likely to need them.
Have a great weekend watching the footy folks. I'm off to Eden Park. Giddy up!
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