Andrew Voss names a team of the NRL's most underrated, discusses the shot clock, judiciary and sin bin and picks the most entertaining team of the season.
Is this the best draw we've ever had for week one of a finals series?
I can't think of a better one.
Sydney v Melbourne to kick it all off. Sensational!
Arch rivals the Bulldogs and the Dragons going head-to-head in sudden death. It deserves a 50,000 crowd at ANZ Stadium.
Brisbane v North Queensland WILL get a 50,000 crowd at Suncorp Stadium!
And South Sydney up against Cronulla. The defending champions, and most successful side in premiership history, tackling a club still chasing its first title.
Three days. Four blockbusters.
Bring it on!
How did the shot clock trial go at Parramatta?
We learned plenty.
Most of all is the fact that it will be a pointless exercise if we are going to allow 35 seconds for scrums.
The fans are already reading into that time limit as being driven by the opportunity for the broadcaster to squeeze in a 30-second ad break.
At Parramatta, I witnessed one scrum form in five seconds when a side really wanted to stop the clock.
I don't want to see players milling around looking at the video screen soaking up time, just because they can.
If we are fair dinkum about the intentions of a shot clock, it will be no more than 20 seconds for scrums. There is nothing technical to the packing of the modern day scrum; anyone goes anywhere.
As for drop outs, make them 25 seconds.
There are enough stoppages these days with video referrals, so lets speed up the game elsewhere in my opinion.
A player fine system is now a must
I was staggered by the suggestion George Burgess could miss two games for a contrary conduct charge.
Don't get me wrong; his bottle-throwing actions against the Roosters warranted a censure. But how about a fine and leave it at that?
The same could be said for those who go too far with questioning referees. Throw in some of those grade one careless charges too.
A combination of a suspension and fine as a penalty is okay by me in some cases also.
And it is time to do away with loading once and for all. I hate it. Judge each charge on a case-by-case basis. I've made the point previously many times. These are footballers we are dealing with, not criminals.
Is the sin bin back?
Seems like it, but I won't hold my breath in the finals.
It is incredible how we went 25 rounds (184 games) with only 10 players sin-binned, and then get two in the final round.
We really need some clarity on what the referees now see as a professional foul that warrants 10 minutes off the field because I am telling you I have seen plenty of incidents this year, like those involving Chris McQueen and Sisa Waqa from the weekend, that haven't had the same punishment.
Give the refs the option of five minutes off. It is the perception of most fans that on-ground officials are reluctant to use the bin these days because of the impact playing with 12 men for 10 minutes will have on a match.
And then there is the situation where we have countless players placed on report for illegal tackles that later cop suspensions but during the course of a game stay on the field.
As it stands we've got this all wrong. It's illogical. It's unfair. It's a lottery.
Fix it, please.
Who is the most underrated player in the game?
I won't name just one, I'll give you a whole team.
Lachlan Coote, David Nofoaluma, Mitch Aubusson, Lewis Brown, Jordan Rapana, Corey Norman, Chad Townsend, Shaun Fensom, Justin Horo, Tyrone Peachey, Jeremy Latimore, Kurt Baptiste, Leeson Ah Mau. Interchange: John Asiata, Isaac Liu, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Sosaia Feki.
I challenge you to jot down your most underrated XIII.
Which team has been the most entertaining to watch throughout 2015?
The Canberra Raiders.
My criteria for this is heavily weighted on results, and by that I don't mean wins and losses.
I'm talking about the number of close finishes a team has been involved in; the number of good comebacks; the times a team has squandered a lead; individual brilliance.
And for mine, the Raiders are top of the list on the above terms.
It was good to see them get up in golden point last Sunday, because they have unfortunately been on the wrong end of some heartbreaking losses going down by two points or less in five games in 2015 – and all of those at home.
I reflect on amazing comebacks against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt (from 22-0 down, a club record), Souths in Cairns, and the Bulldogs in Canberra.
Then there were the ones that got away like the Dragons way back in Round 3 (from 18-0 up).
I had the chance to call many of Canberra's games on Fox Sports this year and there weren't too many where I wasn't thoroughly entertained.
Alas, for all that entertainment, the green machine fell short of the finals.
There's always next year.