After weeks of rumour and speculation, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have finally confirmed the sign...
18 hours ago
There was a bit for both the opponents and proponents of the split round (and the mid week origin series) in the weekend's fixtures.
The teams most depleted by loss of players to Origin, notably the Storm and the Broncos, did very well, while the Dragons and the Cowboys won't be too displeased with their results.
I would much prefer to see full strength teams - that is teams not losing players to representative commitments - going around each weekend, but as that is not going to happen we have to live with split rounds and the significant disadvantage suffered by a number of teams.
The opponents of split rounds will highlight the disadvantage suffered by the Dragons in particular. But with Wayne Bennett moving to the Knights next year, and taking an Origin player or two with him, others might suffer more than the Dragons in the future.
The Storm are going to have to endure the loss of their key players for years to come, but on the basis of what we saw last night the Storm, under Craig Bellamy, are better placed than ever to manage the loss to Origin.
The proponents will have found something to hang onto as well.
What the weekend did confirm is that there is an abundance of young players emerging who have magnificent skills - and who will underwrite the on field success of the game in the future.
If the Storm's Gareth Widdup was not a Pom, you would think he would be an Origin certainty in the near future! But when you look at the dreadful state of the England national side, they need Gareth Widdup, and half a dozen more like him! The Cowboys Tariq Sims is going to shake up more than a few players in the years ahead - and he has already been introduced to the NSW Blues Origin side as an 18th or stand by player for tomorrow night's game.
And Daly Cherry-Evans must surely have had his papers marked a future Maroons Origin certainty with yet another quality performance.
And on it goes.
The talent on show even in a split round really confirmed that, at least on the field, the game is in good shape.
The sooner it gets its act together off the field the better!