It's time to end the wrestle: Voss
Is it time to end the wrestle?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
I thought the most disturbing article I read in rugby league over the past week was Brad Walter's piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday discussing the new wrestling techniques that have crept into the game.
I applauded the NRL earlier in the season for seeking the expertise of wrestling technique mentor Milton Dymock, to assist in recognising new tackling styles that in my opinion really should have no part in our sport.
How worrying to read however that in the space of 15 minutes of match review Dymock identified 10 illegal wrestling moves. The match review panel had identified only one in the same quarter hour of football.
It sickens me to read of the new batch of "leg pulls" that are being employed and of a tackle nicknamed the "toothbrush" whereby a defender rakes a forearm across the ball carrier's face before twisting his neck.
So taking all that on board, I have to admit, I've had enough.
For the betterment of the game, it is time to introduce extreme measures.
Every time a player gets charged with or identified as using an illegal wrestling technique I'm calling for the coach of that club to also be charged or fined.
I'm not pointing the finger at any one coach, nor am I even suggesting they are responsible for teaching the moves, but that's where the buck has to stop.
I have followed and loved the sport all my life, and right now I worry about the sport's growth after spending the last month consulting many fans, and parents of junior footballers.
I've encountered very little opposition when I suggest the toughest of measures, with a common view that wrestling is damaging the sport and its reputation.
For the good of rugby league at every level, ban the wrestle.
How many teams are still in contention for the finals?
Well, mathematically in my opinion, it's 15.
But history has taught me that with a very few exceptions, once you start talking about a club's finals prospects in mathematical terms, that usually means they can plan their end of season holiday for September.
Where 28 points was the cut off for the top eight last year (and it also boiled down to points differential) I believe 30 will be the magic number to make the finals in 2015.
And if that's proven true, the Sea Eagles, Titans and Knights would have to win all of their remaining seven games. Wests Tigers' race has already been run.
And the margin for error for the Panthers, Eels and Raiders is tight, with a possible equation of six wins from seven.
For 28 points to be enough, points differential would have to be the clincher, and the bottom six clubs right at the moment are all in strife.
With the above in mind, I feel Sunday's game at Pepper Stadium is as big as any this weekend with the Panthers and Raiders approaching the desperate stage in their season.
At their best this year, both have finals credentials. The fact as I see it though is both can't make it.
Can the Sharks cause further surprises?
I have the Roosters as my premiership favourites, and as we all know, Cronulla have beaten them twice this year.
Shane Flanagan's team has done exceptionally well to recover from a 0-4 start to the year.
They've also managed more wins on the road this year than they have at home.
Belmore on Sunday shapes as another test, but I saw a team on the improve last weekend, and one that should cause problems for the Bulldogs.
What was particularly pleasing was the attacking nature they took to golden point extra time. While the field goal by Valentine Holmes was super cool from the kid, it was an attacking raid down their left-hand side that got them the field position.
With the greatest of respect, I didn't believe the Sharks had that sort of play in them.
Glad to learn I was wrong.
How good was the Roosters defence against the Warriors?
It was great, yet it could have been even better.
The stats tell us that the visitors to Allianz Stadium made three line breaks in the contest including two in the opening quarter. However scrambling defence on those occasions kept them tryless.
I counted a handful of times in the match where the Warriors failed to make 30 metres in five tackles.
And here's a few more defensive statistics to take on board about the Roosters.
In eight games at Allianz Stadium this year they have conceded just 72 points.
And one from the last 13 years. Until last Sunday, the Warriors had been kept scoreless in only two matches during that time.
However on both those occasions the side to achieve a Warriors shut-out, went on to win the competition (Roosters 2002, Storm 2009).
Do you like rugby league memorabilia?
Well if you do, let me declare the framed jumper the Warriors have on sale at the moment is one of the best pieces I have ever come across.
Check out the "Trade Me" website in New Zealand and you will find a framed jersey signed by hooker Nathan Friend that also includes photo images of his amazing skill from last Sunday week against Melbourne.
The piece is called "The Pass".
But best of all, the one-off jersey is framed upside down! (Bidding closes Thursday and has topped $3,000.)
And if Warriors memorabilia isn't your thing, then check out the NRL Foundation and RiseForAlex Fund online auction.
Among the items up for grabs are:
• Four platinum seats as part of a 2015 VIP Grand Final experience
• Exclusive match day experiences with the Broncos, Dragons, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles and Warriors. Fans will win grandstand seating and have the chance to meet their favourite players
• VIP ultimate ‘behind the scenes’ experience with the Sydney Roosters
• Signed 2015 Kangaroos jersey
• Signed jerseys from the Bulldogs, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Raiders, Sharks, Storm, Tigers and Titans
The auction closes at 10:30pm AEST on Thursday, 23 July 2015.
What was the name of that Canberra schoolboy footy star you mentioned last week, Vossy?
And I did a little more digging on my trip to Canberra last weekend about young Nic.
Turns out he has won the player of the year award for the past three seasons in his Raiders junior representative side. However, having not long turned 17, fullback Nic was ineligible to be promoted to the NYC team at the completion of his SG Ball duties this year.
And on Fox Sports coverage of the GIO Schoolboy Cup this Saturday, South Sydney fans have reason to be excited by the talents of a young front rower who possesses James Graham-like ball playing skills.
Emre Guler is his name, and he skippers Matraville Sports High in their clash with Westfields Sports High.
I've been blown away by the standard of some of the schoolboy football I've witnessed so far this year.
Enjoy your weekend of footy.