Andrew Voss on Benji Marshall's future, Jarryd Hayne's return, the battle of two superstar No.9s, the Bulldogs' top-four chances and much more.
Is Benji Marshall's time up?
I don’t want to admit it because I have been a huge fan right from the first time I called him playing schoolboy footy for Keebra Park on the Gold Coast.
But in my opinion, Benji has some serious thinking to do. And only he will be able to answer the question of whether he is still motivated for another off-season training, and ready to tackle the challenges of the NRL week in, week out.
I don’t believe he should remain at the Dragons. If he is to continue his career I believe it’s either find another NRL club or explore if there are any options in the Super League.
Even the best can’t play on forever.
Where does the Jarryd Hayne comeback game rank among the season highlights?
As one of the 25,000-plus crowd at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday let me declare it is right up there.
The best way I can put it is that in my opinion, one player generated the buzz of what an Origin night can bring.
The atmosphere was sensational. The bloke is a superstar. And while empathetic towards Eels fans, it’s great to have Jarryd back in rugby league.
What impressed me after the game was when I interviewed Hayne about this week’s match against the Tigers. He was genuine in his excitement, being an old Minto boy, at the prospect of playing the first NRL game of his career at Campbelltown.
Think what you like of Jarryd, and I wasn’t a fan of his last-minute bid to make the Fijian Olympic 7s squad, but he has never forgotten his humble beginnings in rugby league.
I expect Campbelltown to be packed out on Saturday. On their own the Tigers deserve the support. But the presence of Hayne will make it truly a day to savour for league fans in Sydney’s south west.
And how lucky am I?
I get to commentate the game for Fox Sports and call it work!
What is rugby league’s biggest embarrassment?
I know we get frustrated by many things in this great sport, and realise there have been plenty of off-field dramas to contend with this year.
But the opening minute of last Friday night’s match between Manly and Parramatta made me feel sick.
To see players slapping opponents in the head after errors… What have we done?
The game has a choice here. We can either do something about it, or just ignore it and let respect between players on-field decline.
No good can come of such petulant acts. I think we all admire and love the toughness of rugby league.
There is nothing admirable or tough in slapping an opponent across the back of the head.
When are we going to stamp out the “leg-pullers?”
Apologies for getting a little wound up this week, but why have we allowed these types of tackles to creep into the game?
This weekend, try counting how many players will be third or fourth man into a tackle and just lift one leg of the ball carrier.
There are some players in the NRL who have quickly made it their specialty. It’s not rugby league. It’s not how I want young players being taught to tackle. Besides that, it’s dangerous. The ball carrier has no way of protecting themselves from what happens next with the weight of other defenders on them.
Don’t wait for the off-season. Lets stamp it out now.
Who will win the No.9s showdown of the year?
In Monday night football this week we may well be deciding the Dally M medal for 2016.
You would have to think that the two hookers, Cameron Smith and Josh Hodgson, are right up there. I am sure they both picked up the 3 points for their efforts in Round 22. If I was the judge I probably would have given them the 2 and the 1 as well!
Throw in Storm halfback Cooper Cronk who is sure to poll well, and remember this night when the award count is revealed in September.
Just on Hodgson, I wonder whether England coach Wayne Bennett is having thoughts of making him halfback for the Four Nations given there don’t appear to be any standout candidates for the No.7?
Hodgson is just pure footballer from head to toe.
Are the Bulldogs a genuine top four side?
At risk of upsetting their coach Des Hasler, I’ll say no.
Actually Des will probably thank me for writing this as he loves his side to “fly under the radar”. He invented the concept!
But the fact is they’ve made it into the top bracket and whether they remain there is entirely up to them.
In the Bulldogs' final month in the premiership, they play Manly on Thursday night; the Broncos in Round 24; then the Cowboys at Belmore, followed by Souths in Round 26.
That’s enough good, hard football to build sufficient momentum heading into the play-offs. But if they only manage two wins from those last four matches, I’ll stand by my opening assessment.
I will be in the commentary box for Fox Sports on Thursday night at ANZ Stadium and look forward to Canterbury starting four weeks of proving me wrong.
How I love this time of year!