SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Jakob Arthur of Parramatta runs the ball during the NRL trial match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

After two of the most newsworthy weeks of Rugby League you'd think that Round 21 might be a little bland. Right? Wrong!

We had coaches making headlines in the press conferences, and a host of Finals previews.

Below are 20 thoughts from Round 21 and the incredible world of Rugby League in general:

1. News will be headline this week, and rightly so, by the comments made by Ricky Stuart. I couldn't believe it when I received the text. Those were comments you'd expect to hear in the final minutes of a game by someone who had put away a few too many tins in the stands, not one of the most respected NRL coaches in the game. It's good that he has apologised but the damage is very much done.

2. Regarding the incident that drew the comments from Stuart, they did not deserve the verbal tirade but it's good to see that penalised. There are multiple such incidents, albeit not as newsworthy, that go unpunished. That said, it was a penalty at most. You can't lash out with your feet whether or not you have the ball.

3. Despite a month to go, the Top Eight looks set. Only the fact the Roosters have three very difficult games in four is keeping the Raiders in the race. Manly are gone, so too are the Dragons. Canberra should win all four remaining fixtures however I can certainly see the Roosters winning the required two. As to the order of the eight? It's anyone's guess.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: Luke Keary of the Roosters is tackled during the round nine NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

4. If reports are true, the Bulldogs have snared a brilliant prospect in Franklin Pele. He was, again, massive for the Jets this past weekend. Dogs fans will remember him tearing their side apart in the pre-season trial so it will be good to have him on their side. He has unlimited potential if he can get the defensive side of his game going.

5. It had been closing in for a few months now but I'm officially declaring "alarm bells" for the Dolphins. Wade Bennett reportedly offered Kade Dykes the number one jersey for 2023 and beyond but Dykes turned him down to chance his hand against Will Kennedy in the Shire. I think the Dolphins have placed way too much importance on Wayne Bennett's ability to attract players.

6. Players need to stop diving on the ball from marker, even if the dummy half is in a different postcode. It's a penalty every single time. For the record I thought Kyle Flanagan had every right to play at the ball in yesterday's fixture but you must pick it up and not dive on it.

7. For all the calls for Tariq Sims to be sent off, I actually thought the tackle by James Fisher-Harris was worse. Complete accident but that was brutal and direct contact to the head. It was a far worse shot that saw Tom Burgess sent off last week.

8. To anyone doubting the Panthers domination this season; they've scored 113 more points than a team I have selected whilst conceding 88 points fewer. That team is the third placed Sharks, who are having a season well beyond expectation. Penrith are the best side of the modern generation.

NRL Rd 1 - Panthers v Sea Eagles
PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Izack Tago of the Panthers celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round one NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Manly Sea Eagles at BlueBet Stadium on March 10, 2022, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

9. What in the world convinced a Raiders player to speak to the media re an ambush of the Panthers this past weekend? Do not trash talk the Premiers and Minor Premiers-elect in the media and give them more motivation.

10. I've got an idea to improve the bunker - flip a coin. It'll be better than the current system. I've just seen the Cowboys denied an obvious try then awarded an obvious double movement. A natural square up but completely random. The coin is the way forward.

11. With all the potential Kangaroos declaring for other countries, there will likely be World Cup bolters at the end of the year. Can I throw out a name that I believe is there or there abouts? Nat Butcher from the Roosters. He's having a fantastic season. He is of New Zealand descent so Mal Meninga may have to watch over his shoulder.

12. Cameron Munster is probably the best five-eight in the game. He was asked by his coach to move from his favoured position on Friday evening to cover the fullback role. He was 10/10 and arguably put in the best performance of the weekend.

13. I've probably stated this before but there are few things as enjoyable in this game as a player on debut. Kade Dykes had seemingly his entire family on hand to see him run out for the Sharks while Ata Mariota was handed an expected debut via the substitute rule. Amazing scenes. Izaac Thompson scored a ripper of a four pointer in his first game in the top grade for South Sydney.

14. Souths are absolutely one of the top eight sides in the competition, that is no doubt. The next four weeks will decide whether or not they are challengers or fodder. They play the Eels, Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters in the final month. They'll either be battle hardened or beaten up come Finals time.

15. Jake Arthur had the game of his life on Friday night. His performance not only kept the Eels in the hunt for the top four but also silenced a fair few doubters within his club's fanbase. A few weeks ago I said I couldn't believe Eels fans seriously booing a player in the pre-match. I wonder how many are booing now.

16. Any chance we can get the Rugby League Nines into the Commonwealth Games in 2026 in Victoria? Probably not, but it would instantly become the marquee event of the games.

17. It is often an afterthought but the strength of benches in this years competition could be the decider come Finals time. The Panthers and Cowboys have the best benches in the game and sit first and second. Must be a coincidence. Meanwhile the Titans and Knights benches have been lacking. So often is a game blown apart when the run-on forwards make way.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Ben Hunt of the Dragons in action during the round four NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Newcastle Knights at WIN Stadium on April 1, 2018 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

18. With Joseph Tapine's injury the Dally M race looks a race in two - the favourite in Ben Hunt and Nicho Hynes. Forwards never really seem to get the points they deserve so perhaps Tapine was never in it but Hunt is the man for mine, unless Hynes can go back to back to back to back man of the match performances in the final month.

19. The more I see and hear from Benji Marshall, the more convinced I am the Tigers got it right. The fact he was willing to step down from high profile media commitments says everything about his dedication. He's already told Joe Ofahengaue he's not a ball playing lock and his future is as a running prop, showing his is not going backward in coming forward.

20. Has there ever been a more ridiculous few days than the Knights handling of the David Klemmer story? Or more correctly, non story!? Hey, we're avoiding a wooden spoon due to the Titans being terrible, let's upset our best player for absolutely no reason. Great tactics.