Buderus born for Knights coaching role: Voss
Andrew Voss gives his views on the changing permutations at the top and bottom of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, and asks if Danny Buderus should be Newcastle Knights coach next season.
Who wins the grand final now?
I don't know!
With the injuries and results from last weekend you could almost say the competition starts this weekend.
I still have the Roosters as favourites but a massive question mark has appeared over them that we may get a response to on Friday night at Brookvale.
The loss of Mitchell Pearce is big, as it would be for any side to lose a playmaker this close to the business end.
But Jared Waera-Hargreaves' absence, given the sensational form he was in, will be a bit like if you had have taken Sam Burgess out of the South Sydney side for the finals last year.
I feel the top eight is now decided after Manly's loss to Parramatta. The Dragons could win ugly again the next two weeks against the Titans and Wests Tigers and secure bottom spot in the playoffs.
Who wins the wooden spoon?
I don't know that one either!
What we are headed for is a wooden spooner with one of the highest ever tally of points.
Newcastle was the last side to finish bottom with 20 points when they trailed the field home in 2005.
By the end of this weekend there is the possibility that the bottom four sides with one round to go will all be on 20 points. This can be achieved if Wests Tigers beat the Warriors (strong chance); the Knights lose to the Bulldogs (chance); the Titans fall to the Dragons (chance), and either Penrith or Canberra will lose when they clash on Monday night.
And if you want me to get really silly, there is actually a mathematical chance of the bottom seven clubs this year finishing level on 22 points!
Now that would be incredible.
Could Danny Buderus be the Newcastle coach next year?
Well Danny says he doesn't want the job, but maybe he was born for it.
Can I also suggest that whatever happens, maybe the players need to shed some light on how they have found form late in the year after a miserable 18-round period.
But what I have witnessed the last two weeks against Wests Tigers and the Storm is more than just a side that is displaying spirit. There is substance to the performance highlighted by halfback Tyrone Roberts playing two of the better games of his career.
There is no doubt Buderus, the club's games record holder, is giving the decision-makers something to think about. Perhaps it might be a two-pronged hooker attack next year on the coaching roster with Nathan Brown and Buderus.
I can't wait to call Newcastle's final home match of the year on Saturday on Fox Sports against Canterbury. Their fans will know that on their 'old boys' day the side has traditionally proven tough to beat.
And if Newcastle was to win, I'd be sitting down with Danny and having more than just a quick chat about his plans for the future.
Who will be the best buy of 2016?
I know it's early to ask, but put down a vote from me for Michael Gordon to Parramatta.
Watching the Sharks player of the year for 2013 and 2014 again last Saturday, I kept wondering how Cronulla are letting this bloke go.
He is 32 but still looks at the top of his game to me. Gordon is so consistently good. Plus the Eels pick up one of the best goal kickers in the competition.
Throw in the signing of Kieran Foran, and the Eels have done very well for 2016.
As for the best buy of 2015, I’ll put Jake Granville on top of a lengthy list of worthy contenders that includes the likes of Anthony Milford, Josh Hodgson, Bodene Thompson, Blake Austin, Michael Ennis, Tariq Sims and Blake Ferguson.
What did we learn last weekend from the "shot clock" trial?
That it is a must for the NRL.
And judging by the feedback, I haven't seen or heard of too many opposed to it. The only "criticism" was that the scrum time could be reduced from 35 to 25 seconds.
I watched the shot clock being used first hand at Cronulla on Saturday and the Gold Coast on Sunday.
It ticked all the boxes for mine in giving consistency to a frustrating area of the game where referees have to make a judgment call on if a side is time wasting.
I also like the countdown clock on the big screen even if just for the aspect of adding a bit of theatre for the fans at the game.
To me, the introduction of the shot clock is an absolute no brainer.
As a matter of fact, if I was running the NRL, I'd have in first grade before the finals.
Can Matty Bowen still cut it?
You bet your life he can.
What a treat it was last weekend to wake up early and watch the Fox Sports broadcast of the Super League match between Wigan and Warrington.
The former Cowboys star turned in a five star performance that included try-saving tackles, pinpoint kicks for tries and even one or two sideline conversions.
Bowen is now on the 'home run' in his career and as an unabashed fan I'd encourage you to tune into all the Wigan games you can to see the last of this champion little player.
I'm just hoping his career swansong will be representing North Queensland at the Auckland Nines next year.
See you at the footy.