Cummins should be applauded: Voss
Andrew Voss on the efforts of referee Ben Cummins, the huge Cowboys-Bulldogs clash, Penrith's chance to upstage Brisbane, the best defender in the NRL and much more.
Why should Ben Cummins be named the referee of the year?
Because Ben blew a scrum penalty in Sunday's Penrith-Parramatta game. Hallelujah!
Like most fans, I tire at hearing referees tell players to get their foot to the ball when playing it; or when a ball is out of a scrum; or when players can move up in defence. "Hold… Hold… Go." You know what I mean.
So why should the ref have to remind rugby league professionals in the NRL they need six players in a scrum? That's been the rule since 1908.
On Sunday Penrith only had five players in a scrum they won and – in a great moment for mankind – Cummins put the whistle to his mouth and blew penalty!
Seriously, there is more instruction given to the players in an NRL game by the referees than we dish out in the under-7s! Is it really necessary?
Let's try and have half the chat, and blow more penalties if need be. The players will get the message.
Do we need a penalty points system overhaul?
Desperately. And the loading on the Charlie Gubb charge is the last straw for me.
How can anyone possibly think we are on the right track with the loading system when Gubb was potentially looking at a longer ban in loading alone (350 points), than any player has copped in a suspension for a dangerous tackle this season?
What happens one year to the next should be totally separate in my opinion. We are dealing with football players trying to win football matches. That Gubb should have 100 per cent loading from two tackles he committed in the same game last year is not a system I support. Between then and last Saturday, he's literally made hundreds of tackles. That's not a "serial offender" for mine.
If we must have some form of penalty loading, how about it is just in the season we are playing. Let every player start each year with a clean slate. The sport is nothing like it used to be in terms of spiteful incidents and dirty play.
Can Dessie's Bulldogs fly into Townsville under the radar?
Not even Hasler can trot his trademark quote out this week. Thursday night is the clash of two heavyweights in the 2016 competition.
And the Bulldogs' record head-to-head in Townsville is sensational. They have won three of the past four clashes up north and 12 of 16 all time.
How about some of the positional duels to get you excited about the kick-off to Round 20? Thurston v Mbye. Taumalolo v Klemmer. Scott v Graham. Morgan v Reynolds.
Can't wait to call this one on Fox Sports. I'm tipping a field goal will decide it!
And then there is Friday night…
OK Panthers, what have you really got?
It's impossible to call a side a contender if they haven't won more than two matches in a row all year. And Penrith have only won back-to-back games twice.
This is their big night at Suncorp on Friday with the Broncos yet to return to their best form from the opening two months of the season.
One statistic that has emerged for Penrith is that in four of their eight victories in 2016, they have trailed at half-time.
In total from their matches they have recorded comeback wins from 20, 16 and 12 points down.
The 16-point effort was in their Round 3 clash with Brisbane earlier this season.
And how about the little sidelight of Anthony Griffin up against the man who took his job at the Broncos, Wayne Bennett? In his career, Griffin has had the wood on Bennett-coached sides, losing only once… and I bet Wayne knows it!
Who is the best defender in the NRL?
And to back up this assessment, look no further than Jake's second-half tackle in Perth on the Warriors' Ken Maumalo.
For technique, there is no better tackler in the NRL
Trbojevic's style is not dissimilar to that of former Manly great Steve Menzies.
When will the GIO Schoolboy Cup return to television?
It's back this Saturday on Fox Sports at 8am.
And what a grand tradition for a competition that first started way back in 1975.
Let me tell you too; it's a classic game to kick off the new season with nine-time champion St Gregory's College Campbelltown tackling St Dominic's College Penrith.
In the St Greg's side is NSW under-18s halfback Jackson Willis. What a story this young bloke is after suffering cancer in his eye as a 2-year-old. Having sight in only one eye is something Jackson has learned to live with. He is also son of former Wests Magpie field goal ‘hero' Andrew Willis.
I'm proud to again be calling the action this year alongside former Manly international Johnny Gibbs.
I'm also looking forward to trips to Townsville and Melbourne for Fox Sports in Round 20. I've packed the board shorts and the thermals!