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Massive future for Panthers, Tigers

Massive future for Panthers, Tigers
This weekend's clash between Konrad Hurrell and Manly's Steve Matai could be one of the best of the season. Credit: Shane Wenzlick. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Six Again: Young guns shine out west, Hurrell v Matai a clash for the ages, and where Wayne Bennett really wanted to go next.

1) What are we to make of Wayne Bennett's move back to Brisbane?

Well, it wasn't his preferred option.

My mail is he actually had a desire to coach the Warriors to continue his bid to become the first man to win premierships at three different clubs. With that possible deal ruled out, alas that ambition is gone.

Wayne Bennett is already in the history books as a seven-time grand final-winning coach. You can add "best ever wheeler and dealer" to that now after snaring a $4 million, three-year contract with the Broncos.

And good luck to him I say. I am glad he is still in the NRL.

But I am intrigued by how quickly events unfolded last weekend, with the announcement confirmed on Monday afternoon.

The way I see it, I think Wayne got 'anxious' after Brisbane's superb win on Saturday night. If he intended to go back to the Broncos in 2015, he couldn't leave negotiations on hold any longer… hence the call to Lachlan Murdoch.

How would it have looked if Brisbane won their next few games under Anthony Griffin and were suddenly in the top four, and Wayne pursued his job then?

Chalk one up for businessman Bennett. Tactically, in the PR stakes it was the right timing. Maybe not for Brisbane's 2014 campaign, it could be said, but certainly for the supercoach and his future.

Brisbane's run is incredibly tough over the next month. Try consecutive games against Melbourne, Manly, Canterbury and Souths on for size.

What if the Broncos won all those under Griffin? How could he lose his job?

Wayne had to make his move.

Round 24, Brisbane v Newcastle should also be interesting.

2) How excited should Penrith fans be getting?

Very… and that's despite last Saturday's loss to the Roosters.

I know a lot has been made about a 'favourable' draw for the Panthers so far this year, but in my opinion they have proven themselves a good side – and one with plenty of scope for improvement.

Their prospect of becoming a great side is the exciting element, as we just don't know how good some of their young stars will be.

What a moment for the club this Saturday against the Sharks to have two 19-year-olds named in the second row.

Last year's NYC player of the season Bryce Cartwright absolutely looks the real deal, while Ivan Cleary has shown his faith in Isaah Yeo right from Round 1 in 2014 when he named him in the centres ahead of some more experienced teammates.

Penrith fans should continue to get out to Sportingbet Stadium to watch this team. They are going places!
3) What about the Tigers' young talent time?

If the Panthers fans are excited about a couple of their young guns, then the Tigers should be delirious!

It's exciting for the NRL to have such a promising crop of players coming through the ranks at the same time at the one club.

What rugby league fan wouldn't want to watch the Tigers play based on what we witnessed last Sunday against Canterbury?

Great credit goes to one of the most famous league schools in the country, Holy Cross College Ryde; Aaron Woods, Luke Brooks, Curtis Sironen and Mitchell Moses are all recent former students.

And a rap for the coach there of the last 10 years, Tim White, who has had a lot to do with the development of these fine young players, and reigniting the league flame at the College that first staged a game 103 years ago.

By the way, if you want to see the next generation of Holy Cross players coming through, they will feature in the GIO Schoolboy Cup match this Saturday on Fox Sports.

4) Is the use of the sin bin still causing problems?

Yes. I hate the inconsistency to be honest.

Judging by last weekend, it would appear we have reached a decision where it is clear cut that if a player doesn't get on side from the 40/20 quick tap, they will serve time off the field.

That was the case with Penrith's Elijah Taylor in the opening five minutes against the Roosters, and was also what happened to the Knights Kurt Gidley a few weeks back… And I am actually fine with that, so long as there is consistency when it comes to other offside plays in attacking situations.

Watch the Broncos/Warriors game last weekend and you'll see the referees blew penalties only for players deliberately offside with tries on offer. One in the second half involving Corey Parker was blatant. Brisbane even had the advantage of play stopped to issue a caution, allowing their defence to reset.

I can't see how we can have it both ways. I predict there is a 'drama' waiting to happen in the finals series if we don't get some clarification on this one.

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5) Have we got the obstruction rule sorted in the NRL?

Let me tell you: compared to the Super League in the UK, believe it or not, I think we almost do.

Week after week, controversy on obstruction calls has dismayed British fans, and the situation is not getting any better.

Runners only have to sneeze in the direction of defenders and obstruction is ruled, but never by the referee in the run of play… only when it's referred upstairs.

The latest howler came last weekend in a match between Widnes and Warrington. My esteemed media colleague Steve Mascord, arguably the game's biggest nut when it comes to watching matches all over the globe, described a no-try call as the worst he had seen in the history of rugby league!

See, there's always someone worse off.

6) Clash of the year this Sunday?

Lock in Steve Matai against Konrad Hurrell as must-see TV!

I only hope both recover from injuries suffered in Round 19 because this is a dream match-up on the form they have produced in 2014.

Manly's Matai has been a rock for the Sea Eagles for many years, but I don't know whether he's ever played better than this season.

And I know the Warriors' Hurrell is in career-best form to the point where he has now become the player his side cannot do without. That was highlighted last Saturday night when he was forced from the field with concussion in the second half against the Broncos.

We often talk about the clash of great fullbacks or halves but it is rare they actually come head-to-head in the run of play.

It's a different story on Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium, as every time Hurrell charges, Matai will be waiting, and the Sea Eagles centre will have a few tricks in attack himself to test out Konrad's improving defence.

I can't wait to call the match.

Enjoy your footy this weekend.

Giddy up!

Twitter: @AndrewVoss9
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