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They may have lost in Round 1 but Andrew Voss sees a lot to like in the Panthers this season.

Andrew Voss gives his views on the big positives from Round 1 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, rates the Raiders' recruitment and asks for a tipping comp inquiry.

What were the biggest positives from Round 1?

Take your pick: the Bunker; some of the sensational tries; close finishes; the expanded TV coverage; but above all, having the league back and over five days!

It was a positive start with the addition of the Bunker, and the scrum and line dropout clocks.

Video referee decisions took on average 55 seconds compared to 77 last year. Scrums packed in 29.5 seconds on average compared to 43. And line drop outs were taken in 26.4 seconds, down from 37 seconds.

For mine, a great product was made better.

As for the teams, based on week one, I am not about to change my assessment of the Broncos, Storm and Cowboys being the best three sides this year.

Who were the most impressive defeated teams?

I was encouraged by the performances of the Panthers, Sharks and Dragons, despite not picking up the two competition points. All three had a chance of winning heading into the final minutes of their games.

For the other five beaten teams, I saw plenty of work needing to be done. It'll come as no surprise to me if the Panthers get it right on Thursday night against the Bulldogs, even allowing for the fact James Segeyaro is gone for more than a month through injury.

Can't wait to call this one on Fox Sports. And here's a little trivia for you, come Thursday it will be 34 years and four days since Des Hasler made his first grade debut at the ground for the Panthers!

How well has Canberra recruited?

Simple answer: very!

Aidan Sezer was one of the standout performers from the opening round getting the Raiders home in a match they could have lost, and did so on many occasions last year.

Need I remind you they were actually beaten by two points or less in five matches in 2015.

Sadly Sezer will now be sidelined with a fractured cheekbone, however I also saw great value in English recruit Eliott Whitehead.

I think Whitehead can develop into one of the buys of the year. He played all 80 minutes first up in the oppressive Canberra heat last Saturday making 37 tackles and 13 hit ups.

And wait until he starts finding the tryline. Whitehead boasted an impressive 68 tries in his 177 Super League game career.

Like fellow Super League recruit Josh Hodgson, he's a keeper.

Was there any good news for the Warriors?

Yes: Shaun Johnson.

I wrote last week in this very column that the Warriors were the side under most pressure heading into Round 1, and now they face intense pressure and scrutiny as they line up on Friday against Brisbane.

Make no mistake, there will be games this year where the Warriors will click and lead 30-0 at half time. But their defence remains an issue and the goal of conceding less than 18 points a game, something most top four sides do each year, needs plenty of work to achieve based on the effort against Wests Tigers.

But look at the stepping and running of Johnson in his comeback here as the massive positive. He was the most exciting player in the game to watch at the time of his injury last year, and I stand by that lofty assessment again now.

Throw them all in; Thurston, Inglis, Slater... Johnson is the chief entertainer. Please let him stay fit, not just for the sake of the Warriors, but for all NRL fans.

Will we ever see Chris Sandow in the NRL again?

Maybe. But right now he's on a path to win the Man of Steel award in the Super League.

Did you see his incredible field goal to give Warrington a win over Salford last weekend after the fulltime siren? Wow!

We all know he's talented, and like Shaun Johnson, we all know the rugby league entertainer he can be.

If I'm advising Chris, I'd be in no hurry to have him come back to Australia. Provided he can put up with some of the freezing weather like last weekend, he can be a superstar in the UK competition.

How did you go in your Round 1 tips?

This is going to be a crazy season, and prepare yourselves for some instant turnarounds this weekend.

Last year only four clubs managed back-to-back wins to start the season. Interestingly, two of those went on to finish 15th and 16th (Tigers and Knights).

And on a side note, in a week where Maria Sharapova has come out admitting to a positive drugs test, I demand we take a closer look at Matt Elliott.

Matt produced the perfect round in the Tipping comp to open the season. How did he do that?

If he follows up with another 'Perfect 8' this week, in the words of former Manly coach Geoff Toovey, "There's got to be an investigation!".  

I'll be calling the Panthers v Bulldogs game on Thursday night live on Fox Sports 1, before setting up at Parramatta on Saturday night where I think the Eels can upset the Cowboys (but probably best you check that tip with Mr Elliott).

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy


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