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Jarryd Hayne celebrates a try for the Eels in 2014.

Kearney hoping new recruits spark Warriors

Welcome, fans to my first Mixed Grill for the year. I'll be serving up a league snack at midday every Tuesday during the season for you to chew on over lunch.

So grab a plate and let's talk a little footy.

If two words are true

I know the season is getting close when every time I go to the shops I have league fans wanting to discuss their forecasts.

There are two words they nearly always use in conversation: "what if?"

We follow such a fantastic sport and I love the passion of the fans. It doesn't matter where their side finished the previous year, the slate is clean and there is hope in their hearts.

"What if … ?"

What if Jarryd Hayne recaptures his glory days at the Parramatta Eels?

It is almost nine years since Hayne had most of us tagging him the best in the world, as he was at the forefront of Parramatta's incredible charge to the 2009 grand final.

When he last played for the Eels in 2014, he left the club as a joint winner of the Dally M Medal that year alongside Johnathan Thurston. That's not such a long time ago, but so much has happened in his life since.

How good would it be for Parramatta and the Telstra Premiership if Hayne lights up the field again? So I ask a second time - what if Hayne recaptures his glory days, and if you knew he would, where would you have Parramatta as a premiership contender?

My verdict: Hayne will be very good, but not great.

Jarryd Hayne thrilling Eels fans in 2014.
Jarryd Hayne thrilling Eels fans in 2014. ©NRL Photos

What if the Warriors play to their potential this year?

If you could somehow clear your mind of the almost annual capitulation of the Warriors since they last made the grand final in 2011, you would be looking at their squad and rating them top-four material.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair, Blake Green, Simon Mannering, Issac Luke, Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale, David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo ... 

There is some serious talent in that list. For starters, a trip to Mt Smart Stadium should be one of the NRL's toughest away trips. Last year with their season on the line they lost their last four home games.

Surely they emerge as serious top eight contenders this year. Surely …

My verdict: Top four is too much, but they will get it right and make the eight.

Star Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson.
Star Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson. ©Shane Wenzlick/NRL Photos

What if Sam Kasiano clicks at the Melbourne Storm?

I have spoken to enough good judges in the Fox League commentary team who say Kasiano could become the best prop in the game at Melbourne. The photos of big Sam in off-season training sure look impressive.

I remember a game in 2016 at ANZ Stadium that I called where Kasiano virtually singlehandedly knocked the Brisbane Broncos out. And it all happened in just 25 minutes on the field.

He was untouchable as he offloaded the ball like it was the size of a tennis ball.

What if Melbourne turns Kasiano into that sort of player for 40 minutes or more every week?

My verdict: Dogzilla to be a smash hit!

What if Kieran Foran returns to his best?

Sorry to put the pressure on Kieran, but I can't see the Bulldogs as a contender unless he does.

Foran was one of the NRL's superstars when he was at the Manly Sea Eagles. He had the lot. Toughness. Skill. He was a leader.

I know he's had a bit go on in his life since, but I'm here to assess him on football ability. From what I watched at the Warriors last year, he was half the player he once was.

Foran will test the adage "form is temporary, class is permanent". The ball is in his court.

My verdict: If he stays injury free, Foran can be an asset for the Bulldogs. But he has a bit to prove.

Bulldogs playmaker Kieran Foran.
Bulldogs playmaker Kieran Foran. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The good ...

From the tragic story of the sudden death of PNG international Kato Ottio, comes the news the Canberra Raiders have set up a memorial fund to assist in fulfilling the player's dream. That was to buy his mum a house in Papua New Guinea. His former teammates, with the help of the Raiders fans, are seeking to still make it happen. Click here to donate

The bad ... 

Such disappointing news out of the north of England that former Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei may have ruptured his Achilles tendon before the Super League season even starts.

The Beast suffered the injury at training with Salford. I hope the setback doesn't spell the end of his career.

Pass the sauce ... 

Did you see the money some of our cricketers will again earn for six weeks in the IPL this year? It is staggering. And good luck to them.

Plenty of fans vent their spleen about our league stars signing lucrative contracts at rival clubs more than a year in advance. South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Angus Crichton is a case in point.

But never begrudge these men, who play this incredibly tough sport that we watch to be entertained, a single cent.

There are not multiple avenues like there are in cricket for their careers to go. They have to do the best they can for themselves financially.

I welcome your feedback on all of the above.

Andrew Voss is a Fox League commentator

Twitter: @AndrewVossy 

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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