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Who should be Thurston's replacement?

Who is the league's best goalkicker, are Manly the real deal, the curse of penalty goals and who should get the nod for Queensland in Origin III?

Who is the best goalkicker in the NRL?

I pose this question after some incredible pressure kicks in the past week starting with Johnathan Thurston's effort in Origin II.

It was a goal for the ages. The absolute example of a player backing his technique in a crunch moment.

That Michael Gordon and Ethan Lowe did similar feats come the weekend is testament to the hard work our goalkickers must put in through hours of practice.

For the definitive vote on best kicker I have consulted one of the greatest ever in Daryl Halligan.

Daryl points out that if it was a standalone kick, you'd have to ask Johnathan Thurston to step up to the plate. He's been there, done that.

But for the actual best goalkicker for technique and results in the competition, Daryl is happy to put forward Penrith's Nathan Cleary. With 50 from 55 this season at 91 per cent, the 19-year-old is putting some serious stats on the board to back up Halligan's high judgement.

Is Manly a top-four side?

There is nothing flukey about their position on the ladder. Their style of play and the results they have achieved can only have been possible through hard work.

Not only is the team going well on the field, but at this rate Trent Barrett must be a prime contender for coach of the year.

And it must be hard to keep a lid on the expectation levels now of Manly fans.

In the last 10 rounds the Sea Eagles have seven games against teams currently outside the top eight.

If they were to win only those matches, and lose out to the Dragons (Round 20), the Storm (Round 21), and the Roosters (Round 22), they would still finish with 36 points.

Based on last year, that tally would be enough to finish top four.

Should tries from kicks be worth the same value?

Let the argument put forward many times over the years be now put to bed.

Kyle Feldt's sensational and spectacular try for the Cowboys against the Panthers in Townsville last Saturday was about as good as it gets.

I appreciate that tries off kicks in matches have increased four and five times over since the start of the 1990s, and some come about with seemingly not a lot to them, but the same can be said of many dummy-half tries that have been part and parcel of the game since 1908.

The kick is a skill. The catch with arms outstretched above the head is also a skill that just didn't exist in league much before 2000.

This is modern day rugby league folks. I think the game is better for it.

Who should Queensland pick to replace Johnathan Thurston?

With Anthony Milford sidelined, I'd be picking Cameron Munster.

I know it is a massive occasion to be throwing in a rookie, but how 'comforting' would it be for such a player to wear the Maroons number six in a team alongside his superstar Melbourne teammates Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater?

As for New South Wales, barring injury, I'd be going with the same 17. They've earned the right in my opinion to have the chance to finish the job.

Do we have a throwback this Saturday to the old 'Match of the Day'?

Despite the fact the venue isn't the SCG, yes we do.

A 3pm kickoff on a Saturday afternoon for a match as big as the Roosters and the Sharks is going to bring back some good memories for the older rugby league fan.

I don't know whether they can fill Central Coast Stadium this week, but the contest deserves a big crowd. The match will be a belter!

Have we seen the worst example of a decision to go for penalty goal?

I believe we have.

If you a regular viewer to Fox League you will know I am firmly in the 'quick tap' lobby!

While I will bow to better rugby league minds than mine, how did the Knights come up with the call to shoot for goal leading 26-10 against the Dragons last Sunday?

This decision on the back of scoring five tries in 16 minutes. That mightn't happen again for 10 years!

It forced me to revisit and update my penalty goal statistics from this season. The Knights are 0 and 7 in matches where they have kicked a penalty goal. The Tigers are 1 and 5. The other sides on the wrong side of the ledger in terms of wins and losses in games where they have taken the two are the Panthers (1 and 3), The Raiders (3 and 4), and the Bulldogs (2 and 3).

Overall in matches where teams have kicked penalty goals, 56 sides have gone on to win, and 40 have lost. That's a winning success rate of 58.33 per cent. That's not really an overwhelming figure for the 'take the two' theorists.

Obviously there is a time where going for goal is a must, and that overall figure is just a statistic, but at the very least it's some food for thought.

I'm off to the Gold Coast on Friday night for Fox League to call the Titans v Dragons game, and will back up on Saturday afternoon in Gosford for the clash of the Roosters and the Sharks.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy


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