Voss: Pick Oates, McGuire for Kangaroos
Andrew Voss talks Kangaroos Test selections, ranking the Broncos-Cowboys clash, penalty goals and the Panthers' off-field achievements.
Where does the Broncos v Cowboys clash rank for quality?
I have been blessed to see a lifetime of rugby league but couldn't possibly compile a top five or top 10 of games all time. I've witnessed too many fabulous contests to mention.
However I'll sum up Friday night's epic this way: it was better than last year's classic grand final, albeit with nowhere near as much at stake.
And if it were the last game I was to ever see, then I would depart this earth content in the knowledge that I had followed the greatest sport on the planet.
Can't wait for the next 'installment' of this rivalry, which by the way is in Round 11, Friday night, May 20.
Who are the two Broncos in line to play for Australia for the first time?
It frustrates me no end the amount of time we talk about possible State of Origin selection for players, when there is actually a Test match to be played between Australia and New Zealand in a little over a month's time.
And in case you needed reminding, the last couple of times the Kangaroos have played, the result has gone the Kiwis' way. I reckon on that basis we'd have to be starting from a clean slate in terms of Test selection.
So let me get the discussion going, having already put forward the Tigers' James Tedesco in this column two weeks ago as Australian fullback.
I believe Broncos prop Josh McGuire should be one of the first forwards picked. That's despite the presence of other front-row candidates such as Matt Scott, James Tamou and Aaron Woods.
And in a backline where there are likely to be very few incumbents as automatic selections, I'd be giving 21-year-old Corey Oates his chance.
Oates has been named to make an early return from a shoulder injury on Friday night against the Gold Coast. I've seen enough in his 57 NRL matches to say he deserves a shot at a higher level.
How do you all feel about so many teams kicking penalty goals?
Well, if you've been listening to my commentary on Fox Sports lately, you'll know that I'm not a fan.
And while fans will throw back at me how Manly won by two on Saturday night as did the Dragons on Sunday, what about the teams beaten in those games and their decisions to go for the two points?
I'll rank the Roosters call to go for goal at 6-4 down, and on the back of being awarded three consecutive penalties, as absolutely staggering.
I was lucky enough to work alongside Peter Sterling for many years in commentary, and he always said the best advice was to do what the opposition least wanted you to.
The Sea Eagles were on the rack. And the Roosters obliged in giving them a break.
Can we give the referees a break?
Amidst a weekend where there were some controversial decisions across the NRL, I'm here to give one referee a rap for the way he handled things.
Grant Atkins had to make some tough 'live' calls in the Roosters/Sea Eagles clash and I thought he did well.
Despite the presence of the Bunker, a referee's job is still as hard as ever, if not even more difficult now as it appears that many sides are prepared to deliberately give away penalties near their own line. They are pushing the limits as a tactic.
You would be a very hard marker to 'burn' Atkins over his sending to the bunker the Daniel Tupou second-half try and not pulling up Latrell Mitchell for a forward pass.
Can I also single out one of the veterans, Gavin Badger, for an outstanding call late in the Tigers v Eels match.
We blow up about referee mistakes until the cows come home, but in reality they get plenty right – and importantly without the benefit of replays.
Would you want their job?
What is the standout clash this weekend?
Plenty to get you excited in Round 5 with blockbusters between the in-form Titans and Broncos, the Bulldogs back at Belmore against Canberra, the Dragons chasing three straight wins when they travel to Townsville, and a western derby on Sunday at Parramatta.
But I'm really keen on the Tigers v Sharks match at Campbelltown and can't wait to call it on Fox Sports.
How about these positional clashes? Tedesco v Barba. Farah v Ennis. Moses v Maloney. Woods v Fifita. Simona v Bird.
Both teams are 2-2 to start the season, and can't offer a five-day turnaround as an excuse as they're each in the same boat.
Throw in Paul Gallen's return for Cronulla and there's no shortage of storylines going into the match.
As for the winner… toss a coin.
How good are the Panthers going?
It's not a trick question. I know they're 1-3 to start the season.
But let me focus on what they're achieving off the field.
The launch of the Panthers rugby league academy should be seen as a real triumph for not just the club, but the sport, particularly for western Sydney.
The Panthers believe the facility is the best of its kind anywhere and for any sport in Australia, and it's hard to argue.
The benefits of such a set up will be gained long into the future. I congratulate all concerned on what they have achieved.
I'm kicking off my Round 5 of rugby league by calling Manly's match with Souths at Brookvale Oval on Thursday night for Fox Sports.
Sam and Thomas Burgess are set to return for the Bunnies…Marty Taupau will be back from suspension. What a clash of the forwards!