Personally, I am so torn at this time of year. Although I love the Origin series, the damage it does to my weekends hugely offsets the fun.

That said, it's Christmas for the vast majority of rugby league fans with both the men's and women's Origin series in full swing.

Below are 20 thoughts from both sides of the Tweed as well as an indifferent Round 13 of NRL action:

1. Round 13 was saved, almost entirely, by that Dolphins/Raiders thriller. What a game that was. Otherwise, this round was hardly "must see". Unfortunately this is the case for much for the Origin period. We probably say it every year but it feels even worse in 2024.

2. You've got to imagine it was a little awkward over the weekend seeing James Tedesco walk into camp to answer to a first time captain in Jake Trobjevic. Michael Maguire simply couldn't move the captaincy on after naming Jurbo his new skipper, but Tedesco has a wealth of experience and probably should retain his arm band.

3. As a Sharks fan I hear about our luck re the draw almost hourly. I did a breakdown over the weekend and with a competition so close, luck could ultimately decide who plays Finals and who doesn't. The Titans could be on the fringe of the Top Eight right now if not for some horror luck. How about the Dragons luck drawing Penrith pre Origin? I can make a case for literally side in the competition benefiting from good luck and struggling with bad luck. Case closed!

4. I fully understand the Tigers efforts to retain one of their stars but a five year deal for a prop forward averaging 115 metres is such a Tigers move. Stefano Utoikamanu is a real talent but $800,000 a year, over half a decade is a deal you'd expect for a top quality half or fullback.

5. Adam Gee's decision to allow a match winning field goal on Saturday night, despite ruling out an almost identical one earlier in Golden Point, cost him Origin One. I am convinced. There's no other explanation as to why he isn't officiating the opener.

NRL Rd 5 - Sharks v Wests Tigers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Referee Adam Gee gestures during the round five NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Wests Tigers at PointsBet Stadium, on April 10, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

6. Talk of Rugby Australia not being able to afford Joseph Suaalii should have plenty of sides on high alert. I have no idea if the reports are true, I'd imagine they're not, but the Dragons, Tigers and Titans should absolutely be following up just in case.

7. Brad Arthur can feel more than a little hard done by being sacked prior to the return of his superstar halfback. It's no shock that the Eels looks a far different side with Moses pulling the strings. His return, and the absence of Nicho Hynes, was absolutely the difference between the sides on Thursday night. Who would have thought?

8. Sticking with the Eels coaching job, if I'm wearing blue and gold I am really excited about the names linked to interviews. Jason Ryles is supposedly on the list. I believe he is the front runner. Michael Maguire is the other likely candidate on the list. I believe it's a two way shootout.

9. I'd be shocked if Jordan Rapana doesn't extend his playing career to include 2025. Perhaps it's energy found in knowing this is his final season but Rapana's energy and abilities are a huge reason the Raiders are playing so well.

10. The Cowboys must be very tempted to move to Jake Clifford into the halves sooner than later. He adds so much to the Cowboys attack. Tom Dearden is the main man in Townsville and should be given the choice of six or seven with Clifford slotting in beside him.

NRL Rd 17 - Roosters v Cowboys
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Jake Clifford of the North Queensland Cowboys scores a try during the round 17 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium on July 14, 2019 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

11. A huge shoutout to Penrith and Dragons fans who braved horror conditions on Saturday evening to watch below strength teams battle it out. That is true dedication. Yes, it was the lowest crowd at the venue since the Covid years but the fact anyone turned up should be commended. Conditions were gross and the teams missing millions of dollars worth of talent.

12. I want to go on record as a Reed Mahoney fan. I absolutely loved seeing the way he roped Saifiti in on Friday night. Everyone in the world knew what Mahoney was doing, except Saifiti who inexplicably thrust his head into that of the Bulldogs player. Right in front of the referee no less! Seeing Mahoney laugh and wave the big man off was enjoyment for a job well done.

13. Jacob Preston may be on his way to becoming the most likeable player in the competition. A fair cry from the previously mentioned Reed Mahoney.

14. Ten years ago the Blues were lead to a series win by Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds. With the greatest respect to both players, Nicho Hynes and Jarome Luai should take plenty of confidence from their compatriots of a decade ago. They were given no chance, much like this thrown together halves pairing.

15. Calls for Mitch Moses to be rushed into Origin One is dead-set ridiculous. Yes he was tremendous against the Sharks on Thursday in his first game in over two months. Reed that again. First game in over two months. There is why he couldn't play Origin One.

16. If Tedesco and Hynes both play well in a win on Wednesday night, both will hold their spots for Origin Two no matter who is available. That is what is on offer. A loss and I'd be shocked if we see either in a sky blue jersey any time soon. No pressure lads!

17. Craig Fitzgibbon, for the first time this season, is under some real pressure. Two straight losses, and 100 points conceded over the past three games, threaten to consign their brilliant start to the season to the memory bank. Will he be able to get his team up for their monster clash with the Broncos? Sharks fans better hope so before an all-too-familiar feeling returns.

18. The Match Review Committee must have owed Jared Waerea-Hargreaves one. Over the balance of his career he's probably owed one or two but how he isn't suspended for the Roosters next game is beyond me. I swear the MRC hit random on charges.

19. Does anyone remember the Nines World Cup? Or the Nines at all? I pine for the return of the short brand of our game. These darn Origin effected rounds!

20. A very serious and sincere shoutout to Rob Burrow who passed away over the weekend. Burrow was a magnificent player on the field and a tremendous inspiration off it. The fact the entire sporting world has united to mourn his passing shows the incredible regard he is held in.