The golden point dilemma
Andrew Voss on the key men for Origin I, the change he'd make to extra time, why it's a big weekend for the Wests Tigers and more.
What should we do with golden point?
In my opinion, keep it but tweak it!
We have been running a poll this week on NRL.com seeking the fans' view on whether they still support golden point extra time.
We've now had it for a dozen years and have seen 85 NRL games in that time go beyond the 80 minutes. So let's face it, an average of seven a year is not a big tally.
However when we do have a golden point game, or two as was the case last Saturday, it always fuels the same debate.
Having heard all the ideas and options I believe we should retain the extra time element.
However I am adamant we should always play a full period of 10 minutes of extra time where a try is the only play that wins the game automatically.
This means sides can still go for a field goal, but their opponents get a chance for a reply. Likewise, referees perhaps won't be so reluctant to put the whistle in the pocket knowing that a penalty won't necessarily decide the result.
Who are the key players in Origin?
Obviously you could list plenty but I'll pick out one from each side: Johnathan Thurston and Aaron Woods.
By his own lofty standards, I thought JT was disappointing in the opening two matches of last year's series. It's not often you use the word "quiet" in relation to this Origin superstar.
This year he heads into the series in supreme form for a Cowboys side that has won seven in a row.
As a matter of fact, 13 of the Maroons squad have been picked from three of the four best-performed sides in the NRL in 2015: the Broncos, Cowboys and Storm. Hard to knock winning form.
For Woods, it's time to step up as a leader of the Blues pack.
Now with five Origins under his belt and the same number of Tests for Australia, the Tigers front-rower needs to reproduce his club game stats for the Blues.
No Origin game has ever been won by a side whose forward pack has been dominated.
How big will Saturday night be for Wests Tigers?
With so many of us in Origin mode, the four games this weekend naturally don't get as much attention, but I can't wait to get out to Campbelltown and call the Wests Tigers game on Saturday night against the Cowboys for Fox Sports.
Would the real Wests Tigers please stand up!
I mean the team we have only seen glimpses of this year. The rampant Tigers, who raced to a big lead against Canberra in Round 7, or the Bulldogs back in Round 4, and then ran roughshod over the same opposition in Round 8.
They take on a Cowboys side on a run of seven straight wins but without Thurston and Co.
For mine it could be a season-defining game: win and relaunch; lose and look increasingly like an also-ran.
Super Saturday is just one match this weekend, but I believe this has the potential to be a super night of attacking football.
Is there any side really "flying under the radar"?
It's normally an expression I just roll my eyes at when a coach trots it out, but for my set of six I'll nominate the Warriors.
They sit eighth on the ladder, one of six teams level on 10 competition points.
At the same point last year, they were 12th after just four wins from 10 games and would go on to miss the playoffs on points differential.
In 2015, I reckon they have played at little better than 50 per cent of what they are capable of. Maybe we should come back and revisit this question in a month's time as between Origins I and II Andrew McFadden's side play the Knights at home, Rabbitohs away and the Roosters minus their representative stars at home.
If the Warriors strike real form, I can see them winning all three.
However, the downside for the Warriors is they have now lost three stars to season-ending knee injuries: Thomas Leuluai, Ngani Laumape and Ben Henry.
And in breaking news… Des Hasler has informed me the Bulldogs are also flying under the radar.
Should Jarrod Croker have been awarded a try in the opening minutes against the Dragons?
I still say yes.
That's despite the explanation given to me by referee's boss Tony Archer on NRL HQ earlier this week in defending the call of double movement.
I can't imagine at any other point of the field would that have constituted a tackle on Croker. At no stage was he stopped from moving towards the Dragons goal line in my opinion.
That's how I called it live on Fox Sports, but alas the review process with the video referee again failed to analyse the play in normal speed.
I just hope the same scenario doesn't come up in finals football with a match on the line and five minutes to go.
Being an NRL player can't be all good, can it?
This is proven by the growing injury toll across the clubs.
I've said it before, but we fans on the couch often dream of what it would be like to be a star player, but in those fantasies we never picture going through endless hours of injury rehab.
With the Warriors Thomas Leuluai the latest player to suffer a serious knee injury it led me to do a 'stocktake' of stars who have undergone major reconstruction surgery so far this season.
By my count there are at least a dozen with the likes of Jamal Idris, Ben Henry, Tautau Moga, Ryan Simpkins, Kyle Stanley and Fa'amanu Brown all spending their weeks going through the mentally tough and physically repetitive process of rebuild and recovery.
We wish them all well.
Enjoy your weekend of footy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of the NRL or NRL.com.