Andrew Voss on the new NSW Blues coach, DCE's incredible double field goal, the Perth double-header, the Storm's form and more.
Who should coach the NSW Blues?
Not a current club coach, is the advice of those who have been there and done that, but someone with experience would help.
I'm not a huge fan of the coaching 'consortium' that has been suggested. I think Brad Fittler is good enough on his own to take the job, and then form a support staff team around him of his choice. I think his experience as both player and coach qualifies him capably for that.
Where does Daly Cherry-Evans' double field goal rank?
Incredible and sensational!
My Fox League colleague Greg Alexander rated the double as up with the best of all time.
To kick a field goal with each foot into a gale and under pressure is a sublime show of skill.
And incredibly rare.
I wrote in my book Stuff You May Have Missed that 30 years ago former Rooster Tony Melrose pulled off the same feat.
Playing against Balmain on a muddy SCG in Round 18, 1987, Melrose came off the bench after half-time replacing winger Steve Morris, and kicked his first one-pointer with his left foot. His second successful attempt was performed with his right foot to level the scores at 12-all with just three minutes remaining.
As you can see, DCE is now in an elite field goal kicking club!
How good were the Storm last weekend?
Absolutely outstanding… and ruthless.
Many times you will see a side post a big score in the first half, and take the foot off the accelerator or become scrappy in the second. That wasn't the Storm. They maintained a completion rate of over 80 per cent throughout and dominated possession overall, never dropping below a 60 per cent share. With the Storm in that mood, Souths were no hope.
But I stand by my assessment in commentary on Fox League. The Rabbitohs were trying their hearts out after conceding 12 points in the first five minutes and losing their playmaker Adam Reynolds moments later.
Our stats showed that Melbourne had 70 per cent of the ball for the first 30 minutes. Between the 5th and 28th minute, the Rabbitohs stopped or saved seven tries. With little petrol left in the tank, they then conceded four tries in quick time in the final stages of the half. The highlight of that effort came in the final minutes of the game when Angus Crichton ran down Suliasi Vunivalu over 70 metres.
That's not a team throwing in the towel.
Are Cronulla still a genuine premiership contender?
They will be playing finals football next week so in my opinion yes they are, but…
Since Round 12 this season, on only one occasion have they managed to win back-to-back. If they finish outside of the top four, they will need to win three straight just to make the grand final.
However, they have a squad that right now can draw on the experience of knowing that they entered last year's finals series having won only one of their last six games.
Turned out pretty good from there, didn't it?
Is the 2018 opening round double-header in Perth the tip of the iceberg?
Yes indeed. And I welcome the news of the Round 1 blockbuster locked in for 2018.
I wrote just a few weeks ago in this very column after the demise of rugby's Western Force, that the NRL should go on the front foot and start scheduling games every month for Perth until we eventually base a team there.
I say well done to everyone who has worked on making this double-header a reality. May there be news of more matches to come.
Could a Challenge Cup work here?
I have always believed there is scope for another competition, but not run on the same lines as in the UK.
Our Challenge Cup could be more along the lines of our old mid-week competition.
In conjunction with the NRL being reduced to 22 or 24 rounds, I would run this as a longer pre-season event. Play it as four-quarter football. And I would have two tiers of competition. One would be the knockout format for the 16 NRL teams – "The Cup". The other would be for every other side that wanted to enter from lower tier competitions "The Trophy".
I look forward to the Wembley final each year, and last weekend was no different. We may do most things better than the British when it comes to rugby league, but the Challenge Cup will never be one of them.