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With a third of the season gone we may starting to get a better idea of where each NRL club truly lies in 2014.
1) Is it time we were all a little more positive?


We get so bogged down in controversy that many seem to be overlooking the fact just how exciting the rugby league action has been so far this NRL season.

I can't remember a season of so many close games, and the job of tipping winners has never been tougher.

And how 'lucky' are we there are no NRL games this weekend? With so many players unavailable through injuries, some teams would have been struggling to field sides… wouldn't they?

2) Does the Representative Round work?

Well, it probably should… but it needs the support of all 16 NRL clubs and their players, and in my opinion quite clearly that is not the case at the moment.

Ask yourself: what is the purpose of representative teams?

I thought it was to reward and select eligible players. I thought it was an honour to be picked and play in these teams. I thought it was something players were meant to strive for.

If the above is not met, the credibility of representative fixtures suffers.

The fans don't want to be sold a 'best of what's left' scenario.

I love representative football, especially international rugby league.

A Tonga and Papua New Guinea Test should have been added to this weekend. That would have made a fair curtain-raiser to Australia v New Zealand, along with the initiative of playing the Women's All Stars and Women's Indigenous All Stars game.

Can I suggest in future the representative weekend be held after State of Origin? However, I guess no matter when we schedule it, unless all of the clubs come to the party, it will always be less than perfect.

3) Who should Anthony Milford be playing for this weekend?


We all like the Under-20s Origin concept, but Milford playing for Queensland in this match does little for the code, whereas his inclusion and impact on Samoa's fortunes could mean the world to them, and be a great boost to international rugby league.

Milford was an absolute star at last year's World Cup representing the Matt Parish-coached Samoan side.

Dual eligibility for Origin and fledgling nations should be allowed in what is a 'small' world of rugby league. Players shouldn't feel any pressure to pick one over the other.

4) Is the 2014 Telstra Premiership starting to sort itself out?

Yes… I think… just about… maybe.

It's a perilous task to base your opinion on the form of one week, but I believe there were signs in Round 8 that the 2014 race might be settling down.

All teams have now played a third of their regular season games.

On an incredible competition ladder, half a dozen clubs have posted 50 per cent win/loss records. And 14th on the table is only two wins off 4th!

But in the defeats of the Tigers, the Eels and the Dragons last weekend I thought we saw question marks raised on all three sides.

They have all improved significantly on 2013, but perhaps they all have a fair way still to go to be taken as true finals contenders and forces.

I can see Round 8 being the turning point in the season of three clubs in the bottom quarter: the Sharks, Cowboys and Warriors.

The defending premiers don't look like a team that is going to stay in the bottom half of the NRL for too much longer either.

5) Is Andrew McFadden at the Warriors for the long term?

The answer is in the positive given the early signs of his tenure at the helm.

There is no question that in the space of three games, the Warriors appear a different team. Some of their defence against the Storm was the best I have ever seen from the club. It's not often you can say the Warriors attacked without the ball.

McFadden promised 'tough love' and he has delivered on that, not afraid to drop the likes of Feleti Mateo, Konrad Hurrell and Dane Nielsen.

There have been some subtle changes to their attack as well, which will develop further given more time.

The Warriors now face a huge next two weeks with matches in New Zealand against Canberra and Canterbury. State of Origin has no impact on the club, so things are set up for McFadden's team to make a run. 

6) Where do you rate the Inglis try?

I can't think of too many better.

For power, strength, speed, balance, athleticism, determination… it ticked every box.

Add to the moment the venue and the size of the crowd, and the quality of opposition, yet he was still able to beat seven defenders…WOW!

The greatness of the try will be cemented in years to come as it will be so easy to recall in the library of league moments.

Enjoy the weekend folks… we get so little international football during a season, how about we savour what we have.
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