The NRL was right to come down hard on the issue of dissent this week, says Andrew Voss.

A line in the sand on dissent

Andrew Voss on the Bulldogs' punishments, this year's awesome rookie brigade, Pat Richards, Johnathan Thurston and more.

Did the match review panel get it right on the issue of player dissent?

I believe they did, 100 per cent.

Forget any incident you want to bring up from previous years. A line in the sand has been drawn – Round 5, 2015.

James Graham and David Klemmer were out of control at the end of the Bulldogs' clash with South Sydney. The penalties are appropriate.

Soccer fans worldwide are content in calling their sport "the beautiful game", yet the way their players treat referees when a decision doesn't go their way is shameful and embarrassing.

It just seems to be accepted that you can get in a referee's face, harass and attempt to intimidate. Not too much beautiful about that.

But that doesn't have to be the case in rugby league, and the NRL has to show the way for the sport at every level.

It has been applied in Round 5. It must also be applied should the issue arise in Test matches, State of Origin, or a grand final.

"Heat of the moment" cannot be tolerated as an excuse, nor what is at stake in terms of the occasion.

The NRL to its enormous credit has driven campaigns that stand up to issues such as bullying and domestic violence.

However, respect for referees and officials is an issue right in its backyard. It has now been made a priority, and every player should be aware of that.

How good was Pat Richards?

Extraordinary.

I make no apologies for describing the first 69 minutes of Monday's Tigers v Eels game as boring. I love rugby league and will always attempt to provide an entertaining call, but I will also always call things as I see them.

Enter Pat Richards.

What a highlights reel from the last 11 minutes!

The set-up for the James Tedesco try was absolute magic. I have no idea how he pulled it off and I've watched the try back now 100 times.

 

 

Vision of the try went viral. His fans in England from his eight record-breaking years at Wigan hailed him a legend. They love him over there.

While I'm at it, a 'pat' on the back for the sideline official Jeff Younis who got the call spot-on that Richards hadn't put a foot on the line, nor had been outside the field of play when he managed the amazing off-balance kick.

And call this final point, a little milestone accountancy. While we rightly marked Pat's 100th game in the NRL, if you add his record from Super League the career record makes sensational reading.

324 games. 221 tries. 963 goals. 6 field goals. 2,816 points.

And he isn't done yet.

Are the Cowboys back?

You better believe it.

And how big is Monday night going to be when they travel to Sydney yet again to play Souths?

Heading into Round 4, the Cowboys had managed just two wins from their previous eight Monday night games. Against the Rabbitohs they will be aiming for a hat-trick after their Johnathan Thurston-inspired golden point victory over Melbourne followed up by a convincing defeat of Penrith.

ANZ Stadium has proven to be a real bogey ground for the Cowboys, however with Thurston in supreme form, and a forward pack that has woken from a slumber, I don't know that I can tip against them.

It's not all bad news at Manly, is it?

No, but their form is a worry.

First to the positive. I want to thank the club for making 18-year-old Tom Trbojevic available for an interview on Fox Sports after his debut.

Plenty of clubs in the past have for whatever reason shielded young players from the media early in their career. Some have total media bans slapped on them.

However I believe it was good for the club and the game for the fans to hear from, and share in, what was a huge moment for the kid.

Tom did himself, his family, his junior club at Mona Vale, and the Sea Eagles proud, and maybe some young players on the northern beaches are more inspired than ever after Saturday to play rugby league.

Now to the negative. That was a weak team effort in Albury.

Some of the goal-line defence in the first half was so un-Manly like.

And pressure is mounting on their star halves, who as we all know are headed elsewhere next season.

Kieran Foran in particular is in a rut, and needs to show what he did in the last 25 minutes against Canberra, right from the opening whistle against Penrith on Saturday night.

How's the list of NRL rookies going so far this season?

It's overflowing.

I know it's very early in the season to be planting the seed on rookie-of-the-year contenders, but how awesome is the list we are already able to compile in 2015?

These are just some of the players that have come onto the NRL scene in just over a month: Jack Bird, Kyle Lovett, Euan Aitken, Chris Grevsmuhl, Kane Elgey, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone, John Folau, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Tom Trbojevic …

Last Monday night, Penrith introduced Waqa Blake to the top grade, and there'll be plenty more across all clubs in the coming months.

We have some great and seasoned superstars at one end of the scale like Thurston, Inglis, Slater and co, but the crop of young guns coming through gives reason for all league fans to be excited.

Are there any certainties this weekend?

No… and how good is that?

This is a tremendous round of footy that is sure to cause tipping competition mayhem!

I would have thought that Parramatta over the Titans and Melbourne to beat Canberra were the two warmest favourites.

However, the Eels were derailed last Sunday by the Tigers, while Raiders fans will be quick to remind us all of their 24-22 upset win over the Storm in Round 7 last year.

I'm actually commentating the Pirtek and GIO Stadium games this weekend for Fox Sports and I'm prepared to get a splintered backside as I sit firmly on the fence in both!

Enjoy your weekend of footy.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy