Six Again: Johnathan Thurston one of the toughest to play the game

Johnathan Thurston Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

First tackle: One tough little bloke

There is very little doubt that Johnathan Thurston will go down as one of the best to ever play the game of rugby league, but he should also be remembered as one of the toughest to pull on a pair of shorts.

There has been much said this past weekend about the late shots he has been subjected to, most notably in the last two games. Last week big Sam Kasiano nearly snapped him in half with a shoulder to the back, this week it was little-known Manly second-row forward Jack Gosiewski's turn.

With the Cowboys on the attack, Gosiewski dropped his shoulder into the back of Thurston snapping back his head and sending him crashing to the turf, well after he had passed the ball. It was ugly and Thurston wasn't happy at the time or after the game. Rugby league karma seemed to be at work again though, as Gosiewski suffered a broken arm in the dying minutes of the game.

Gosiewski faces just a one week ban for what was deemed to be a shoulder charge, with his broken arm he'll be out for much longer. League pundits have been calling for an additional charge to be introduced, one that protects the smaller men of the game, the playmakers, from such obvious cheap shots.

In both games Thurston was soon on his feet, continuing to do his best to revitalise what has been a disastrous Cowboys season. It will take a lot more than a cheap shot to the back to stop Thurston, but if they don't stamp it out of the game now, it could reach that point.

Second tackle: It could Pay to learn from the Bunnies

Bulldogs coach Dean Pay needs to grab a few tapes of the Rabbitohs in action and sit down for a couple of weeks to carefully study them. Fellow first year coach Anthony Seibold seems to have found many of the answers to the Bulldogs attacking woes.

With the ball in hand the Rabbitohs have players in motion everywhere, players running angles, players looping around, support players tearing up the middle just in case a half break is made.

Around the ruck, simple hit-ups are done in twos or threes, usually with Burgess brothers coming at you from all angles. Sometimes the first runner receives the ball, sometimes the second, sometimes the first runner turns it inside to another runner. It's called mixing it up and it causes confusion and indecision in the opposition defence.

Having two forwards run as decoys as the ball is passed around the back of them has been done to death and the Bulldogs are fooling no one by continuing to use it as their main strike weapon.

The Rabbitohs were able to overcome the loss of their four best players on Friday night against fellow top eight aspirants Cronulla. Their replacement players, led by veteran hooker Robbie Farah, slipped into the game plan seamlessly, all running their lines, taking their part in wave after wave of exciting, hard-running football.

Third tackle: Sutton to go out on top?

John Sutton holds the key to a lot of the good work they are doing at South Sydney. The veteran back-rower was at his very best against the Sharks, causing havoc whenever he had the ball.

Sutton varies his play depending on what he sees ahead of him, running hard at back-peddling defenders to set up support players, or tucking it under his arm and running an angle back towards the ruck when momentum is needed.

He is definitely a back-rower, but brings with him the skills he acquired through years spent with the number six on his back. He has a power running game, the passing game of a half and the timing of a player who knows his role to perfection. Coach Anthony Seibold seems to be getting the best out of him and he'll play a vital part in any premiership hopes the Rabbitohs might have this season.

Fourth tackle: Eels slipping further

I'm going to have to say it, the Eels will have to sack Brad Arthur. Sure he coached the team to within one win of last year's grand final, winning accolades as one of the best coaches in the game, but that was last year. This year's Eels have been diabolical, topped off with a horrible effort against the struggling Knights on Saturday night.

What is Arthur doing wrong? Is he missing the tackles and making the on-field mistakes, both of which were at a minimum last year? Or did he, as I suspect, lose the dressing room when he informed his players during the off season that they needed Jarryd Hayne to take them from the top four to the premiership title the club so desperately needs?

Something is rotten in Parramatta and the usual outcome is a coach sacking. Players are a fickle bunch and apparently untouchable when a club crumbles like the Eels have this season.

Fifth and last: Mahe good, Mahe bad

Mahe Fonua has been a great buy for the Tigers this season, his hard running in the centres has caused defences everywhere massive headaches. But he has enough errors in his game to let the team down at times.

During yesterday's loss to the Roosters he was moved onto the wing following an injury to David Nofoaluma and he didn't cope too well with the shift. The Roosters' opening try came from a kick that Fonua could have taken on his chest unchallenged had he positioned himself correctly. Instead he reached up with his hands and spilled the ball into the path of Daniel Tupou.

In the second half he was bundled into touch as the Tigers looked to fight their way back into the game and then with the clock ticking away, their last roll of the dice also ended in Fonua's hands.

Maybe he is uncomfortable near the touchline. Lets hope he is back to his best next week in the centres, because he is a match winner and a real entertainer.

Handover: Sitting should be banned

With six minutes remaining in South Sydney's commanding win over Cronulla on Friday night, Sam Burgess committed an act which is not mentioned anywhere in the rule book, but probably should be.

After tackling Sharks prop Andrew Fifita, his legs became entangled as they both struggled to return to their feet. With Fifita making things difficult, Burgess lined up his head and sat on it with some force.

Fifita certainly wasn't impressed and a scuffle ensued, thankfully he didn't have to leave the field for a HIA test. It just doesn't look good, especially from Fifita's angle.