SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 08: Stephen Crichton of the Panthers celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

1. Have the last two weeks been a blip or is this the real Eels? We'll know more after Sunday but a third straight loss will provide us with our answer. I'm not so confident in my pre-season prediction of them finishing second.

2. Over a month ago I wrote about Nicho Hynes kicking off a frenzy of activity although rather than kick starting it his has become the marquee name. Almost every club in the NRL could find a spot for the youngster now.

3. Penrith have navigated the opening third of the season with minimal fuss and without dropping a single game. They didn't have to deal with Origin last year. The next six-or-so weeks will confirm their title credentials. For the record I think they'll beat the majority of the sides despite being Origin-affected.

4. It's been great to see players such as Jake Clifford and Tom Dearden shift clubs early, however I feel fans will expect this to become the norm. Adam Reynolds is set for a deep Premiership run with the Bunnies and won't be going anywhere but there's certainly nothing stopping the recently dropped Chad Townsend from heading North right away.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights is tackled by Jake Clifford of the Cowboys during the round 20 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Newcastle Knights at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 27, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

5. In the age of fatigue in sin-bins, speed has never been more important. We saw Jason Saab score a magical try over the weekend while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scored a try due to pure pace. The Sharks looked far more dangerous when the speedy Ronaldo returned. Can't be understated.

6. I was worried that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's selfless move to the wing might hurt the Warriors' final chances in 2021 but if anything it's improved them. Reece Walsh is starring at fullback while RTS is just as dangerous on the wing. I really with RTS wasn't headed to the other code however the Warriors are in good hands.

7. I think I'm the only person in the 'Rugba League' fan base who isn't worried about Origin being "ruined" next week. There were a host of sin-bins the past two series and no one even remembers. Just relax and enjoy. We can blow up if it's required.

8. Speaking of Origin, again I seem to be the only person not bothered by the venue switch. I'm a lot easier to get along with when the Sharks are winning so maybe it's that. Home ground advantage use to be such a huge advantage but those days are long gone.

State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 3
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 18: Jai Arrow of the Maroons and team mates celebrate victory after game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on November 18, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

9. For those campaigning for a New Zealand Origin game, a great thought but it was never going to work. The 8:10 pm kick off time would have been horrible given the time difference and a potential border closure may have left the game without 36 of it's elite players for two-weeks. Too risky.

10. Tigers fans, want a scary stat? All of the Panthers tries, try assists, line break assists and all but one line break from Liam Martin, came from players who will be available to them this weekend. The depth in this squad is ridiculous.

Watch Toby Rudolf discuss his new contract on Rugby League Outlaws

11. Totally selfishly and with tongue, somewhat, planted in cheek, I hate Origin-affected weekends. Only one game of footy on Saturday? Ugh, what am I supposed to do? You can't but feel this a huge missed opportunity for Foxtel to show at least a game of NSW Cup. The Magpies and Panthers in a top of the table clash, or a massive crowd at Henson Park would have made for fun viewing.

12. Talk of Matt Dufty to the Titans makes little sense. AJ Brimson is their best player by an absolute mile. Unless Brimson wants to move into the halves, you're creating more problems rather than solving them. Dufty at the Bulldogs makes sense with Allan and Addo-Carr forming a lethal combo out wide and with talks suggesting DWZ is Tigers bound.

13. The Raiders are done. Ricky Stuart has exceeded his shelf life. It happened at the Roosters and the Sharks while his Eels run was a disaster. I know the Raiders don't often sack coaches but it might be worth a chat. The disharmony is really worrying. The side chops and changes massively every week.

14. How about those Roosters? Missing several players yet still belt supposed top eight certainties the Raiders with ease. They did it without Sam Walker who was rested to heal up. Trent Robinson just keeps finding young players who play well beyond their experience while his available older stars defy the ageing process.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Roosters head coach Trent Robinson watches on during a Sydney Roosters Training Session at Kippax Oval on March 12, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

15. The Titans game plan of "throw it to Fifita" has been exposed. He was matched up against Shaun Johnson and Britton Nikora on Sunday and was expected to go huge. He was EASILY contained by the Sharks pair. He made a supposed 16 tackle breaks but 12 of those were late on while running sideways. They need to find another route and quickly.

16. Sticking with the Titans game, how much better were the Sharks this weekend? Blayke Brailey ran and kicked and looked five times the player of recent weeks. Johnson and Moylan were the best two players on the park. Ramien had his best game of the year by a mile, while Will Chambers put in a vintage performance. Most importantly they looked to be playing with freedom and confidence. Wonder why?

17. While on the Sharks, since the heavily reported "player exodus" that was coming due to John Morris being removed from the head coaching role, the Sharks have re-signed Talakai, Rudolf, Kennedy and Tracey whilst losing only a player they openly had no interest in keeping. Interestingly each of the re-signed players has singled out Craig Fitzgibbon as a reason for staying.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Connor Tracey of the Sharks celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the round four NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on April 03, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

18. Who were the 17 men who ran out in maroon jerseys on Sunday afternoon? That surely wasn't the same Sea Eagles of the past month? They turned up expecting to beat the Knights and paid the price. Tommy Turbo can't be 10/10 every week. Worrying signs to be honest.

19. The Bunnies looked like their old selves on Saturday after a pretty dire recent run of form. Damien Cook was so dangerous out of dummy half, something they haven't enjoyed for weeks now. Good win. They're in the title race.

20. It was great to see James Roberts back scoring tries.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Point 18…are you kidding,2 players in sin bin,9-0 penalty count(until the 80th minute),no six again restarts…minus Walker, Sironen, Cust, Schuster, Fainu,Foran, Davey, and Aloia…worrying signs??? ..they’ve already exceeded expectations clown.

  2. I don’t understand point 10. From the way I read, it, it’s saying that none of the Panthers selected for Origin scored a try, got a try assist, line break assist or line break (barring Liam Martin). Could someone please explain it to me?

  3. Dempsey: It was the Newcastle reserve grade side mate. You deserved that 9-1 penalty count. Stop head highing blokes and you’ll be fine.

    Yes Flex, that’s correct. Only Martin recorded one of those stats. Crazy.

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