Andrew Voss looks at the leading candidates for the rookie of the year, wonders if the Cronulla Sharks winning streak will ever end, discusses the sin-bin debate again and the upcoming Suncorp showdown between Melbourne and Brisbane.
When will the Sharks winning streak end?
Does it have to?
What a remarkable achievement from Shane Flanagan's side to equal the club record of 11 straight victories.
And it would take a brave tipster to say they won't make it 12 on Saturday night against Parramatta.
Then from Round 18 on, Cronulla face only one of the current top six sides before the finals and that's the Storm in Round 26.
Next week may be the toughest battle to keep the streak rolling as they will be without their Origin representatives when they face the Panthers.
For the record, in a comparison with last year, Cronulla is two points ahead of where the Broncos sat in first spot, and four points in advance of the Cowboys. This time last year, Cronulla was placed ninth on 18 points.
Are we clear on use of the sin bin?
No, we most definitely are not.
It's just a lottery as to when a side is reduced to 12 men, and I remain convinced it is because in a referee's head he is concerned that a 10-minute penalty can have a massive influence on the game. The punishment 'does not fit the crime' in the modern game.
What is the difference between a professional foul on a player after a long break downfield, and the deliberate foul when defending on the goal line with the opposition in an attacking position?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again now. Bring back five minutes in the sin bin to give our officials an extra option on how to deal with infringements, and then include foul play such as high and dangerous tackles as 'binnable' offences too.
Who is leading the race for the rookie of the year?
I have the Gold Coast Titans Ash Taylor as a clear leader this year, but maybe Nathan Cleary at Penrith is going to make a sweeping run for the prize.
Cleary was excellent again last Friday night as the Panthers outclassed South Sydney.
Should Cleary maintain his rate of improvement, then perhaps we will have a rookie showdown to determine the award with Penrith scheduled to play the Titans in Round 25 at Cbus Super Stadium.
If either picks up the Dally M rookie award, it will carry on a tradition that has seen playmakers Luke Brooks, Adam Reynolds, and Daly Cherry-Evans all win in the last six years.
By the way, this year will make a decade since Jarryd Hayne was the NRL's best rookie.
How does Jason Taumalolo compare to Sonny Bill Williams at his best?
I was asked this question yesterday after Taumalolo's latest barnstorming effort against Manly in Monday night football.
Jason is the most powerful running forward in the game. He may be the most powerful ever, but you'd have to survey the players who have stood in the defensive line on that one.
So hypothetically speaking, which would you sign if both were at their best?
I am going to stick with SBW, but only because he churned out more minutes. However, if Taumalolo starts to regularly play at least 60 minutes, the name on my imaginary cheque will change.
Taumalolo is a phenomenal talent.
Who wins the Suncorp showdown?
Despite the likely absence again of Cameron Munster and Blake Green on Friday night, I'll tip the Storm.
It's an amazing record that Melbourne has at the ground winning 10 of 13 previous meetings against Brisbane, and the last 5 straight. They even beat the Cowboys at Suncorp in Round 10 this year.
And what about Jesse Bromwich and his efforts at the home of rugby league in Queensland?
The Kiwi test captain is eight wins from eight games at the venue… five wins over Brisbane; one against the Cowboys; and even two from two for New Zealand against Australia.
Something isn't right with the Broncos, and maybe it won't be until the post origin period that they recapture their best form.
This is a big round for…
Among a number of teams, I reckon the Bulldogs.
What a game to kick off Round 17 with Canterbury playing the Roosters for the 169th time in their history.
But forget the past; the Bulldogs are yet to win more than two games in a row in 2016, yet find themselves just outside the top four.
A win over the Roosters will make it three in a row, and quite possibly a position behind just Cronulla, Melbourne and North Queensland, if other results go their way.
Des Hasler loves his teams to fly "under the radar". As a matter of fact, Des invented the saying. But should they win on Thursday night, the Bulldogs will be up with the heavyweights, and treated as such by their rivals.
Can't wait to call the game on Fox Sports. Mind you, I'm really looking forward to being in the box for the Sharks' bid at history on Saturday night too!