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Shaun Johnson may not be the best halfback in the NRL, but he can do things the others can't.

Andrew Voss on the Slater-Stewart-Vatuvei race, how Manly will cope without Daly Cherry-Evans, why Shaun Johnson rated a 15 out of 10 and more.

Who will win the great try-scoring race?

It's Billy Slater v Brett Stewart v Manu Vatuvei!

Who of that three do you think will finish with the most tries in their career?

Right at the moment it is 31-year-old Slater out in front. The Storm No.1 collected his first tries of the season last Sunday against Parramatta to go to 172 in his NRL career.

Stewart is the player I refer to as the 'Baron of Brookvale'. Last weekend he became only the 10th player to hit the 150-try milestone. His strike rate is ranked third all-time behind Ken Irvine and Harold Horder. Stewart is 30 years of age. 

Meanwhile across the Tasman, there is plenty of time for Manu Vatuvei to add to his tally of 142 career tries with a new three-year contract signed recently.

I feel compelled also to mention Joel Monaghan who continues to rack up the four-pointers with Warrington in the Super League. Monaghan, in his time in the NRL with the Raiders and the Roosters, notched 90 tries in 165 games.

After another double for the Wolves last weekend, at 33 years of age, Monaghan now has 104 tries in 106 Super League games.

If you throw in Challenge Cup games his career try tally is over 230. That, I should point out, isn't too many more than the Wests Tigers and former Wigan star Pat Richards.

What will Manly do without Daly Cherry-Evans?

Go backwards. Simple as that.

I reckon DCE's game for Manly on Sunday against the Knights was worthy of a 10-out-of-10 rating.

He controlled the game throughout, he set up tries, he scored a try, kicked a crucial 40/20, and was also forced to make 27 tackles as Newcastle ran plenty of traffic his way.

My Fox Sports colleague and former champion half Greg Alexander went on record last week as saying Cherry-Evans' performance against Melbourne in Round 2 has been the best performance by a player this year. He probably now holds spots one and two.

Manly have until June 30 to make some bid to attempt to have Cherry-Evans reconsider his move to the Gold Coast.

He strikes me as a young bloke who will stay true to his word. But from a Manly point of view, I totally understand an attitude of doing whatever it takes.

Has anyone considered offering him his own beach? Freshwater? Dee Why?

Is there any other player in the competition like Shaun Johnson?


Let me clarify that: there are better halfbacks. But none of those I rank above him, like Johnathan Thurston or Cherry-Evans, could have produced both the plays he did in the fashion he did against Cronulla.

Johnson's key strength is that he is quicker off the mark than the best No.7s in the game and that explosive speed was on show for all to see.

From his match-winning try I wonder what the statisticians recorded in terms of tackle busts? And did they register even one missed tackle against a Sharks player?

Watch it back – Johnson actually beats eight defenders in one run, but none of them are good enough to lay a hand on him. Two of them fall over, such was his footwork.

Meantime the set-up of the Solomone Kata try was sublime.

I have been asked since to explain the "incredible meter" that I used in commentary on Fox Sports to describe the play. I had Johnson at 15 out of 10.

What does that meter go up to?

To be honest, I don't really know, but I reckon it'll be Johnson who is the player most likely to provide the answer!



How good are the Raiders going?

To quote Ken Callander: "Sensational!"

Ricky Stuart has had his critics and there have been some damning statistics around his coaching record giving his detractors a bit to work with.

But you must give credit where it is due, and Canberra are playing some fantastic football.

I've pushed the barrow before for the likes of Shaun Fensom and Paul Vaughan. If they make the New South Wales Origin side for game one, you won't hear a complaint from me. The same can now be said for Blake Austin.

I can't wait to get to Wollongong on Sunday to call what could be one of the best Sunday matches of the year when the Raiders tackle the Dragons. That game deserves a full house.

Do we still have scrum penalties?

Apparently not.

Here's a little task. Why don't you ask a young supporter what a differential penalty is?

Let's face it, scrums have been a lost cause for a long time but the 1000th nail was hammered into the coffin on Monday night by Benji Marshall.

Referee Matt Cecchin called for a scrum to be repacked because Benji did a one-handed feed, at right angles of course to the opposition pack.

Why not just penalise him?

I guarantee one penalty against a player too lazy to have two hands on the ball to feed a scrum as written in Section 12/6a of something called the rugby league rulebook would be a penalty heard around the world.

It can't be that hard.

In these days of lotto scrum feeds (any number puts the ball in), at the very least can we retain this most simple of instruction. And if the players can't even do that, don't complain about what action the referees suddenly take.

Is Jamie Soward a chance for Origin?

If he's not, I'd like to know why.

If Soward comes through Monday night's blockbuster against Manly, he's actually the first player in the halves I'd pick.

Why is it this player who helped lift the injury-depleted Panthers to one game short of the grand final last year not mentioned on the same line as the other contenders?

He's a better player now than when he played Origin in 2011. Soward is also one of the best kickers in general play and goalkickers in the competition.

The Sea Eagles v Panthers match at Brookvale on Monday night will see out another terrific round of footy.

How good are the match-ups? And that possible Origin selection for NSW or QLD factor just adds to the interest.

Last week we had Johnson, Cherry-Evans, Stewart, Slater, the Broncos' last-minute win…

It's the greatest sport on earth my friends!

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy


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