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1) How good was Origin one?


Sorry to all the football fans preparing for their World Cup, but to we rugby league folk this is the beautiful game.

It was brutal at times. Two lion-hearted defences. But still the attacking class of the likes of Jarryd Hayne and Billy Slater shone through.

And for edge-of-the-seat tension, that was about as good as you can get.

Many have offered the question after previous epic Origin encounters, "can it get any better?"

Well, on Wednesday May 28, in game number 100 of State of Origin rugby league, it did.

2) Is it just all about State of Origin this time of year?

Definitely not.

Obviously Wednesday night's series opener at Suncorp Stadium has attracted plenty of attention, and rightly so.

However I believe this weekend we have the most exciting and intriguing round so far this season in the NRL.

Penrith v Parramatta is the most anticipated Western Sydney derby we've had in years and deserves a full house at Sportingbet Stadium on Friday night. 

On Saturday the Roosters confront a Raiders side that have a coach who is in pursuit of back-to-back wins for the first time in almost five years. For Ricky Stuart, Allianz Stadium would be a great time and place to end the astounding drought.

Are the Cowboys the real deal? Well a match against Melbourne is a good barometer and that's what Townsville hosts on Saturday night.

On Sunday, the resurgent Warriors play their first game at Mount Smart Stadium for the season ensuring a big crowd for their clash with Newcastle.

Meantime, it'll be Origin mark 2 at Suncorp Stadium as Brisbane stage a rare day game against Manly.

And on Monday night, the Dragons hit the field with a new coach against arch rivals South Sydney.

There is not a single minute I would want to miss out of those games. Bring it on!

3) Are you still allowed to push in scrums?

Surprise, surprise… apparently so.

The Warriors certainly caught the Titans napping in the 67th minute of their game at Cbus Super Stadium last Saturday night.

A planned forwards drive forced a Titans error at the scrumbase just 10 metres out from the Gold Coast line.

The banter between players and referee Henry Perenara was amusing, as the Titans questioned, "you're not allowed to push in scrums anymore."

Perenara's reply was, "well you've never heard that from me".

And to back up the referee, it's not been written anywhere into the rulebook.

But like the Gold Coast players, I am sure I have heard it said, actually many times, in matches for more than a decade.

What a can of worms this will open up if every team did this at every scrum.

And did you see the scrum that followed the Titans error, with the Warriors' feed?

Both teams were bound and pushing! Wow, it's a miracle!

4) Is the crackdown on dangerous tackles still on?

It would appear not.

Hot on the heels of the downgrading by the judiciary two weeks ago of charges against Greg Bird and Apisai Koroisau, we had North Queensland's Tariq Sims charged with a grade two dangerous throw against Canberra.

As much as I am a fan of Tariq, I would have struggled to mount a defence for his 36th-minute tackle on Shaun Fensom.

That the match review committee believed Bird's tackle was worse compared to Sims' is impossible to comprehend, remembering the Titans star was slapped with a grade three originally.

So has the match review committee gone gun shy, because of the subsequent watering down of their charges at the judiciary? It's hard to perceive anything but.

My last point: Would Tariq Sims have received any less of a charge six weeks ago for the tackle he performed on Fensom? I don't believe he would have.

So where's the crackdown?

5) Should Sam Burgess ditch his plans to switch to rugby?


Stay in rugby league Sam – either here or in the Super League.  All is forgiven.

Surely the big bloke must be having serious doubts.

I note that on the weekend, former Roosters player Setaimata Sa made his return to rugby league with Hull FC in England after a stint in union with club side London Irish.

He tweeted after the game that he had made five runs and 17 tackles in 25 minutes.

"That's more work than I did in my entire time at London Irish."

Burgess is a player who revels in the work. He was at it again on Monday night against the Sharks: 22 hit ups, 26 tackles, 175 run metres, one try.

He averages more metres run per game than any forward in the NRL. He has regularly been topping the impressive double of 100+ metres and 30+ tackles.

I am not taking a shot at rugby union in the slightest here, but how is Sam going to come even close to satisfying his appetite for work in the 15-man-a-side game?

He's a long shot at best for the Rugby World Cup. He'll play his rugby for Bath on a bog heap of a home ground that holds 12,000.

And if he had of played with them this season in the Aviva premiership, this may have been his tweet after the last match: "22 games done. Finished 5th. Missed playoffs. Team scored 48 tries but kicked 59 penalty goals."

Sam will have plenty of time standing around watching blokes line up shots at goal at Bath. I hope for his sake his mind doesn't wander off to fond memories of running the ball at will in league before he has to scamper off to the next ruck.

6) Who are the best young players in the NRL?

I don't have enough column space to list them all.

However can I single out one moment of play from last weekend from a 19-year-old 'kid' in just his fourth game of first grade.

I will declare the Warriors' David Fusitua's offload for Shaun Johnson's runaway first-half try was as good a piece of skill as I've witnessed this season in the NRL.

Absolute magic. The bloke can play!

Enjoy your footy.

Giddy up!

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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