Monday Morning Halfback: Round 7
The showdown for representative jerseys is on in earnest with some difficult decisions to be made, the Warriors continue to be involved in the most entertaining game of the round, the Storm keep winning despite not playing anywhere near their best, Anthony Milford just gets better, while there was a significant step forward for the women's game.
Representative shoot out shows no sign of stopping
James Tedesco v Matt Moylan v Lachlan Coote v Tom Trbojevic.
Adam Reynolds v Josh Reynolds v Trent Hodkinson v Blake Austin v Aidan Sezer.
No, this is not the battle for NSW's fullback or halves positions.
These are the players all eligible for City Origin selection for the annual Country v City clash in Tamworth.
They can't all fit into the team for what shapes as a potentially crucial Origin trial. What will coach Brad Fittler do with his team? It's anybody's guess.
The form of Tesdesco to start the year has been simply breathtaking, he's been in everything good for the Wests Tigers lighting up highlight reels every game he plays, but don't for a moment discount North Queensland's No.1, who was outstanding again in his side's win over South Sydney. Coote's try-saving play in the first half was everything you want from a representative player. After being involved in a tackle on the halfway line, Coote got off the ground and made a beeline back as Adam Reynolds charged forward and put through a kick, Coote's effort on effort managed to save the day for the Cowboys. It spoke volumes of him as a footballer.
Then there is Country representative Josh Dugan who has removed all doubt playing for the Dragons that fullback is his best position. He's been assured a position in the Blues side for Game I by coach Laurie Daley – yet Daley hasn't confirmed what number he'll wear on his back.
Dugan is likely to play somewhere in the backline for Australia against New Zealand at Hunter Stadium, but his role for NSW is still undecided.
It is a similar story in the halves, with Daley insisting he wants to stick with Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds. Will they be given a chance to combine for City as a dress rehearsal for Origin, or will the game be used as a chance to see what Austin, Sezer or Reynolds can bring to the Representative arena?
Further complicating the selection intrigue, Mitchell Pearce will miss the Country v City match through suspension but will be back in time for State of Origin.
Watch this space.
By their own admission, the Storm aren't playing their best footy by any stretch, yet have started the season 5-2 to be equal second, just one win behind the Brisbane Broncos.
There are lots of teams in the competition that would kill to be where the Storm are at this point in the season.
Melbourne set a very high standard for their club and while they aren't reaching those lofty heights in their performances at the moment, they know that winning is the only real currency of the NRL.
"We aren't playing to our capabilities, but we are still five and two," Captain Cam Smith said after a golden point victory over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
"That's the thing that is getting lost with our performances, we are five and two. There is one team in the competition with a better record than that and that is the Broncos.
"When you think of it that way, there is a lot of positives about our football side. We haven't played anywhere near our best football and we are still winning. There is a lot for us to build on.
"Our defence has been quite good, it has been keeping us in matches. There is one part of the game we are struggling with and that is inside the opposition 20. We have no other issues at all. Once we sort that out, hopefully we will turn the corner, score some points and make it a lot easier on ourselves."
Warriors always deliver entertainment
Are you not entertained?
If you watch just one game a week, you could do worse than pick the Warriors for sheer enjoyment and entertainment value. Win or lose, you can never accuse the New Zealand outfit of playing boring footy, and they seem to bring out the entertainers in every side they play.
Some of the tries scored on Saturday from the Bulldogs and the Warriors during their thriller in Wellington were unbelievable.
Warriors fans may argue differently, but if you are a neutral, there isn't anything quite like it. Just strap yourself in and expect anything to happen.
They are just so fun to watch.
Anthony Milford riding the wave
Just watch the highlights, his game at the moment is unmatched by anyone. We knew he was good, I'm not sure many realised he was this good. There were glimpses at Canberra and he was outstanding in his first season at the Broncos, but business has certainly picked up this year.
There isn't currently a more exciting player running around the competition.
The battle (which he is currently winning) is to keep doing it every single week and be consistent.
No more words – just watch the highlights and enjoy.
Lolohea is a gem
Tui Lolohea was unlucky not to win rookie of the year last season and he has started 2016 in the same vain. He's been the Warriors’ best this season playing from the wing and his versatility often comes to his detriment.
He was meant to play in the halves against the Bulldogs, but an early injury to Tuivasa-Sheck pushed him to fullback and he didn't miss a beat.
He is one of the form players in the comp and one of the most dangerous with ball in hand. You get the feeling if the Warriors are to make a charge this season, Lolohea will be in the thick of the action.
Women's game on the up
The recent pathways created for the women's game in Sydney are a massive boost for rugby league. With the Jillaroos brand getting stronger all the time, thanks to more support and exposure, the new pathways ensures that the women's game now has a platform to get better and compete with other codes. The importance of this development cannot be overstated. It enables rugby league to bridge the gap between other codes, and make no mistake, there is a lot of competition in women's sport in this country. Netball, soccer, cricket and rugby are all big attractions for young athletes, not to mention the Olympic events.
This new pathway will allow girls to continue playing rugby league after their 12th birthday, meaning they no longer have to wait until they are 17 to pick up the game and play.
It is an important step for not only women, but rugby league as a whole.