Brett Kimmorley takes aim at Monday Night Football and predicts a bright future for rugby league on the Gold Coast in the latest edition of Set of Six.
Benji's NRL career grinding to a halt
After watching him in action on Thursday night, I think we are seeing the end of Benji Marshall's NRL career. I think he made some critical decisions in Wollongong and was pretty poor; there was too much east-west running and not enough north-south - which is what the modern day game requires.
As much as he's been an outstanding player for a long, long time, and we know he's playing for a contract; I would certainly think that this is going to be a business decision by the Dragons and they won't be investing in him going forward.
In the wet, as it was on Thursday night, it's all about playing field position; it's all about short passes; you'll never run around the Broncos - you have to run through the Broncos. I just think the Benji that was so good in 2005 and all that excitement and brilliance that he has created for a number of years, he just doesn't have that play in him anymore.
The game has passed him by.
Eels continue to defy the odds in horror season
Parramatta again showed amazing resilience on Friday night. News that Brad Arthur has re-signed for three years on top of his current deal is just what the club needed.
The Eels are going through enormous turmoil; they missed out on the prized signing of Jarryd Hayne though that was for the right reasons.
While there is great uncertainty around the direction of the club, at least there is some stability with Arthur as coach. He has done an amazing job this year with a roster that has been ripped apart by the salary cap woes and off-field incidents.
No matter what seems to fall their way, the Eels just seem to keep on fighting and that has to be applauded. They had nothing to play for on Friday night, but somehow they managed to put a performance together and come away with a one-point win.
That might just be it for the Sea Eagles, too.
Good riddance to Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football is an absolute killer, I'm glad it's going at the end of the year. The Sharks were brave but they were largely horrendous; they had no preparation ahead of their clash with the Raiders. Canberra were very good while it was a similar story for the Titans on Sunday; they looked sluggish after having to back up from Monday night.
The Warriors certainly deserved to win on the Gold Coast but the Titans tried to play with lots of energy and it looked like they eventually just ran out of puff. It was probably an emotional week for the Titans as well on the back of Jarryd Hayne's signing; there will be a lot more expectation on them now and a lot more media scrutiny.
But I just think Monday night is an absolute killer for sides having to back up and play again the following weekend. It's just totally unfair and the fact that Titans-Sharks game went 90 minutes, not 80, it was a major reason why both sides struggled to compete. I'm thrilled that Monday Night Football will be gone next year.
Smith, Cronk show why they're paid the big bucks
Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are the two best big-moment players in the world; when the game is on the line I want those two blokes in my side. They've done it in Origin and they've done it for the Storm for a number of years. Souths were very, very good and obviously it was the first time they had close to their No.1 roster on the field.
The Bunnies were probably entitled to win the football game, but just the game-management of Smith and Cronk and their ability to come up with the big plays when the game is on the line was the difference.
The Storm were under the pump at halftime but they just hung in the contest and when they get to the part of the field where Cronk becomes the field goal option, Cameron Smith takes it on himself and slots the match-winner. They got one chance and Smith nailed it.
Their ability to handle pressure and scramble a victory when they're just a little bit off is a big reason why they're leading the competition. You've got to be pretty cool when the game is on the line like that and that's why Cronk and Smith are two of the best players in the world.
Hayne starts with loss but Titans on the up
It was all about Jarryd Hayne on the Gold Coast and what a great crowd it was at Cbus Super Stadium. The Warriors have a big fanbase on the Gold Coast, but there was great Titans support as well; the locals responded to what the Gold Coast did against the Sharks last Monday night and Hayne only added to that.
So you end up with 20-odd thousand people going to a game of football on the Gold Coast where that club a few years ago would struggle to get 5,000 people to a game. Let's hope that the Titans can become a club that is run properly off the field and one that can have success on it as well.
That didn't happen on the field on Sunday as the Warriors were too good, but as I mentioned earlier, having to back up from Monday night won't have helped the Titans. The Gold Coast seems to be the only place where we've continually got it wrong with rugby league; they have never been able to make it work.
But let's hope the Titans are on the right path now and Hayne looms as a key part of that.
Grinding Tigers building some consistency
What a great win it was for the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt. They're in the top eight now and we can probably say that it's down to a race in nine, given how badly the Dragons have played recently. The Tigers just outmuscled the Cowboys and played a very simple game plan; they ran hard and kicked well.
Mitchell Moses had another strong game and there was a great atmosphere at Leichhardt Oval. Johnathan Thurston obviously played for the Cowboys which probably had a lot of people thinking that would be enough for the defending premiers. So that must give the Tigers a lot of confidence; they know that not only can they compete with the best in competition, but they can also grind to a win.
They're not shooting themselves in the foot, which they had done a little bit over the last few years, and they are developing into a more consistent football side. And the more close games you play, the better you learn to handle adversity and pressure. I thought the Tigers were superb on Sunday and thoroughly deserve to still be alive in this competition.
And as for Leichhardt Oval, it was another reminder that traditional suburban grounds still have a place in our game.