Voss: Who wins Origin III?
Andrew Voss gives his State of Origin III prediction and takes a look at the issues at the Sharks, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Broncos and Eels.
Who wins Origin III?
Well, I've been right in the first two, and I'm prepared to say Queensland will achieve a series clean sweep tonight; something they've only managed once before in this dominant era, in 2010.
I'm anticipating the usual suspects to dominate with Darius Boyd my tip for man of the match.
Get set for a cold winter's night and a 24-20 scoreline to the Maroons.
Will the commentator’s curse strike the Sharks?
Well I'm going to test Shane Flanagan's men big time by making a huge prediction!
Having overcome the Panthers despite missing six of their stars, I'm tipping they can turn the 13 straight into 20 by the end of August.
The only game between now and the playoffs where they won't start warm favourites could possibly be Round 26 against the Melbourne Storm.
After examining the draw, any loss for Cronulla over the next seven rounds would be quite an upset.
Get excited Sharks fans. It might be time to get that trophy cabinet out of the flatpack!
What should South Sydney have done with Paul Carter?
Exactly what they did.
Not every player needs to be rugby league's problem.
As a matter of fact I'll go one step further; I never worked out why Souths signed him in the first place given he had been cut for indiscretions at the Titans.
And don't let this be a criticism of just the Rabbitohs because they are not the only club to have done it. As all clubs attempt to create a strong "culture" I don't understand how they can dump some players for disciplinary reasons, then go out and sign other players who have been let go by rival clubs for other breaches.
I wish Paul well. I hope he can get himself together. But there isn't any guarantee, nor should there be, that rugby league has to be a part of his future.
Don't waste your talent mate. Playing in the NRL is the right of no one.
Should the Panthers persevere with Zak Hardaker?
I say, not this week. Anyone who knows me will be aware I am an avid watcher of the Super League, and my admiration for Hardaker as a player goes back a number of seasons. Two years ago, I was staggered he didn't get a run for England in the Four Nations.
The bloke can play.
But on what I witnessed last Sunday against the Sharks and compared with his involvement to what Ben Barba provided from No.1 for Cronulla, I think it is almost unfair to have Zak thrown to the wolves on such limited preparation.
Put simply, Hardaker needs an NRL off-season of training to adjust, and I don't know whether naming him centre rather than fullback for Sunday's clash with Parramatta will be much help.
Throw in the fact the Panthers are in a real dogfight for a berth in the finals; I can't see they have the luxury of time to let Hardaker settle in with eight rounds to go.
Will the Broncos bounce back this weekend?
Put it this way. If they don't, they are in crisis!
Provided the majority of their State of Origin players come through unscathed, they should really put the Rabbitohs to the sword on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.
I'll be calling this one for Fox Sports, and my tip is a big score for Wayne Bennett's men - well in excess of 30 points.
Sadly for their army of fans, Souths hopes for 2016, in my opinion, are done and dusted despite the mathematical chance of still being able to make the playoffs.
If the saying the "wheels have come off" were literally true, the Souths wagon would be wobbling along with only two of four still attached.
Is there anything else that can go wrong for Parramatta?
You have to believe the past week is rock bottom, surely.
However such is their wretched year on so many fronts, it'll come as no surprise if there are revelations soon that the club had recently invested in a greyhound breeding business!
I'm pretty sure Brad Arthur won't get the Dally M coach of the year, but he deserves a medal of some sort. He would have had plenty of reasons by now to have thrown his mobile phone into Parramatta River, given the number of calls he would have received bearing bad news in 2016.
I thought the Eels' effort in the second half against the Roosters last Friday night to come back from 18-6 down was one of the most spirited of the season. Yes, the players obviously deserve plenty of the credit, but Arthur is the glue.
Enjoy your weekend of footy. It's the last of the shortened rounds. Hallelujah!