Andrew Voss on Mitchell Moses's form, golden point, favourites for the premiership, the pressure on the Dragons and Broncos, and much more.
How good is Mitchell Moses playing?
Moses is starting to achieve a better level of game management for the Tigers while at the same time come up with the brilliant plays he is capable of, on a more consistent basis.
Fox Sports' Matty Johns rated Moses's recent effort against the Dragons as the best of his career. He backed it up with another strong display against the Eels on Saturday night.
Now comes the big test. Sunday at Leichhardt Oval against the defending premiers.
No Luke Brooks, no Robbie Farah… No worries, Tigers fans. I reckon Mitchell Moses is ready to lead. That’s what the star players can do. In 2016, this 21-year-old has graduated into exactly that.
What do we do with golden point?
I have never envied the job of our referees, but I’m sorry fellas, this one is all on you.
And it wouldn’t matter if we went to golden try, unlimited extra time, or scrapped golden point completely for regular season matches, the pressure will still be on the referees not to put the “whistle in the pocket” when scores are locked with a match on the line.
You cannot defend the failure to blow a penalty when Penrith blatantly had three markers in front of their posts against the Warriors. Sides cannot be allowed to stand offside and rush up on players attempting field goals, without punishment, as happened on the Gold Coast on Monday night.
But those things can all happen in regulation time, so it’s not as if the controversy will disappear if we just get rid of golden point.
Strong refereeing is needed, and there will no doubt be some pain if a side loses a game on the back of conceding a penalty. Fans will blow up.
However it is the game’s integrity at stake here, and that takes precedent over everything else in my book.
Dare I go and quote Thomas Keneally: “Blow that whistle ref… Blow that whistle.”
So who is favourite for the NRL now?
Not that Andrew Voss is opening a ‘book’, but I’ve got Melbourne narrow favourites ahead of the Sharks and the Cowboys, in that order.
But here is a word of caution. It has been proved over the past decade that the competition doesn’t really ‘start’ until August. Up until now, teams have just been jockeying for position.
If a side in a finals position can get on a roll over the next month and take momentum into the playoffs, then they will be less than a handful of wins away from a premiership.
It won’t matter one bit if you have been unbeaten for 16 matches as is the case with the Sharks, if they then lose in week one of the finals, because suddenly they will be on the same level as the team that may have finished as low as eighth.
So buckle up folks, I hope the likes of the Titans, the Warriors, or even the Tigers can find some magic much like the Eels of 2009 did.
Either way, it’s going to be fun!
Is the penalty for tripping an opponent too light?
We have reaped what we sowed on this one.
I first wrote about this issue in my column after Round 6 this year. We allowed tripping to creep back into the game and should have got tough on this one a lot earlier.
I wrote then that I thought the first action should be that the player is sin-binned during the match. Keep in mind that we used to actually send players off for such an act.
A week later I wrote how we had Melbourne’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona deliberately trip the Tigers Mitchell Moses in Rround 7. In this case, I would have had no problem with the Storm forward being sent off for good. The match review committee could only see a grade one level charge. They’ve all been grade ones! How can that be?
A 75 base penalty for such an offence is way too light. And what exactly is a grade two, three, four or five trip anyway?
Will Mal Meninga get his way on the availability of players for post-season Tests?
I hope so. Otherwise we’ll be lucky to see full strength Test sides once every four years.
Mal has called for independent doctors rather than NRL clubs to make calls on whether a player is fit to represent Australia. I hope the same attitude is held by the Kiwis.
Surely the last straw on this one had to be the 2014 Four Nations tournament with the huge number of withdrawals.
I called on the weekend for Manly’s Tom Trbojevic to be included in the Kangaroos squad later this year only to learn the Sea Eagles want him to go in for ankle surgery once the season is over.
I am told Trbojevic has carried the injury from very early in the season. That he has played such great footy throughout the year suggests another two or three matches representing his country would be possible.
The latest broadcasting rights deal only allows for an international representative ‘window’ post the NRL season. Clubs never pull their players out of Origin. If we don’t stand up to the clubs on the Test issue right now, we are condemning international honours as second rate.
Who survives the pressure test?
Under pressure versus under pressure is how I would describe the kick-off to Round 22 between the Dragons and the Broncos in Wollongong.
Mathematically, some will argue it’s not sudden death for the Dragons if 28 competition points is the target for the playoffs. But a terrible points differential, not to mention having to turn a four-game losing streak into winning four from the their last five, doesn’t have their fans oozing confidence.
However they remain a chance this week because their opponents are in crisis and I don’t say that lightly. For a top side, a slump is when you lose a string of matches. The fact here is that the Broncos aren’t just losing, they are conceding the points tally of a side that warrants a place in the bottom four.
In Round 13 it was 36 points against the Warriors; Round 16 it was 40 against the Bulldogs; Round 17, 48 against the Storm; in Round 20 the Panthers put 31 on them at Suncorp, and last week it was 36 points against the lowly Roosters.
After eight rounds this year, Brisbane was top of the table and conceding an average of 10 points a game. They’ve since won only 3 matches and conceded an average of 26 points a game.
I’m intrigued to see what the two sides have to offer, and can’t wait to call the action in NRL Thursday on Fox Sports.