Monday Morning Halfback: Round the twist

Two weeks ago Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans walked into a scheduled press event and was forced to defend coach Trent Barrett. It was just two rounds into the Telstra Premiership.

Already the knives were being sharpened. Loudly. 

It was unfathomable so early in the season.

"I just can’t comprehend why the coaches are under so much scrutiny in the game," Cherry-Evans said.

"I find it pretty comical. I know it is someone’s job on the line but it is outrageous to think that it is even a possibility after two rounds."

It was comical. 

And then, just one week later, it wasn't. The Wests Tigers had punted their coach. 

Things move that fast in rugby league. Warp speed at some clubs. Just three rounds – or just two losses – was enough in Jason Taylor's case to render all the support of the board and work of a complete off-season meaningless. His bags were packed and fate was sealed after getting beaten by two of the best teams in the competition. 

And while the NRL universe was still coming to terms with the shock axing of a coach so early in the season, the drums started beating loudly at Belmore. 

They never seem to stop. Nothing ever does in the NRL. 

The other coach under the pump before a ball had even been kicked was Dragons coach Paul McGregor. 

St George Illawarra responded with a huge statement against the 'premiership favourites' in Round 1, smashing the Panthers 42-10, before repeating the dose in Rounds 3 and 4 against the reigning premiers Cronulla 16-10 and the enigmatic Warriors 26-12.

The Red V are currently third on the Telstra Premiership ladder. And they absolutely deserve to be there. They are playing a smash-mouth brand of football, with their underrated forward pack destroying all those in front of them. 

Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin and Joel Thompson are tirelessly going about their work, and knocking the front door down in the process. They don't demand respect, they take it. 

The side-to-side aimless play they were often criticised for is gone and replaced with a forward pack who have taken complete ownership of the team. They aren't the biggest pack, but they might just be one of the best, with plenty of late footwork at the line and incredible engines causing defenders nightmares. 

Cameron McInnes also needs a lot of praise for the way he has his team focussed to help the Dragons to a 3-1 start to the season.

As for Manly – well, they are now in the top eight after impressive back-to-back wins against the fancied Cowboys and the Bulldogs, scoring a combined 68-8 in the last two weeks. 

The maligned Cherry-Evans has started to find his feet with a stable halves partner and fullback combination. The Manly No.7 and No.1 have started ripping teams apart and scorching the highlight reels with some impressive heads-up plays. 

But a week is a long time in rugby league, where strange things happen, are we going around the twist?

The perfect Storm that never ends

Melbourne headed to Leichhardt Oval as the competition leaders with a perfect 3-0 record facing a Wests Tigers team in disarray. 

After three games the Storm had the second worst attack in the league, scoring only one more try than the worst attacking side for the opening month, the Wests Tigers. 

That's quite an amazing statistic in itself. Only one try separated the competition leaders and the competition cellar-dwellers. 

And when the Tigers raced to a 14-0 lead, the Storm had the 'worst' attack in the league. With only seven tries in three and a half games of football. 

But the Storm never panic. They do what they need to do to win football games. 

They are the most drilled and disciplined team in the competition, and they get results by grinding teams into submission. 

The Storm have only given up one try in the second half this season. They slowly work their way into a winning position and then refuse to let go. 

For the Wests Tigers, it was the third game in a row they have gone scoreless in the second 40 minutes. For all their hyped attacking potency, the Tigers had no answers to the Storm's unwavering play.

Melbourne's victory saw Craig Bellamy become just the fifth coach to record 250 wins in the NRL, joining Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, Brian Smith and Bob Fulton.

The win also means Cameron Smith has now equalled Darren Lockyer's record of most wins with 237. Cooper Cronk moved to equal third tied with Terry Lamb on 213 victories. 

Keary move best for both rivals

Premiership winning half Luke Keary made a high-profile off-season move from the Rabbitohs across Anzac Parade to bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters. 

It happened after another infamous NRL story involving a Hollywood star. Why wouldn't it, it's rugby league baby. 

The move – after a spat with Russell Crowe – has actually benefitted both clubs. 

Keary is revelling in his new Bondi surrounds and the Roosters are reaping the benefits to start the season 4-0. 

Already he is being touted as the 'buy of the year', which we've already established is way too early to be making such mundane proclamations. 

But if Keary is the acquisition of the season, surely that means it was a dumb call for South Sydney to part company with the diminutive half?

Not so. Not in the melodrama that is rugby league. 

Keary's exit has paved the way for Cody Walker to take the cardinal and myrtle No.6 jersey and make it his own.

And he's easily been one of South Sydney's best in the opening four rounds. He may be a late comer to the NRL, but Walker is certainly making up for lost time and looks set to make a real fist of his opportunity, partnering Adam Reynolds in the halves. 

Warriors' Freudian slip

You could be forgiven for thinking the Warriors season was already cursed with Kieran Foran's return getting postponed at the very last second with a hamstring injury in the warm-up on Sunday night. 

While scans will reveal the extent of the injury, Daryl Halligan had an unfortunate slip of words when he was interviewing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck post-match following another uninspiring Warriors team performance.

"This is the toughest competition in the world, you know that you won a comp in 2013, so I wish you all the best next year."

Next year?

It's only Round 4, there is still time for the Warriors to turn it around, but they'll need to improve soon, or those words will ring true.