Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
New Zealand Kiwis v Australian Kangaroos
Friday 6:15pm AEST, Eden Park, Auckland - live update
Selection Saga? For those of us with a long memory, this kind of drama is old hat. We've seen the likes of Tonie Carroll play for Queensland, Australia and the Kiwis; we remember the Nathan Fien fiasco, we've watched Greg Inglis choose to play for the Maroons simply because he likes them better and now this - James Tamou being bounced around like a chess piece in the most boring game of chess you've ever seen; and judging by how much the Rugby League community loves its chess, that is saying something. Or is this drama really nothing?
Indeed it is. The Tamou issue will be settled when he enters the game from the interchange bench after 25 minutes, plays for 10 and then sits back down. Meanwhile, a real chess match will be played out with the likes of Smith, Cronk, Marshall, Johnson and Billy Slater all moving into position for an entertaining start to the representative season.
The Kiwis have amassed an impressive backline with phenoms Josh Hoffman and Shaun Johnson making their test debuts with plenty of experience around to help. They will need it. Tim Sheens will start by sending a mountain of traffic towards Johnson and when the youngster has seen enough of Paul Gallen and Dave Taylor, he and the Kiwis will have nothing left. The Kangaroos grind this one out at Eden Park with Cooper Cronk the standout. A number of juicy matchups in what should be a close one until the Australians pull away late.
Country Origin v City Origin
Sunday 3:00pm, Glen Willow Regional Stadium, Mudgee - live update
Whether we are talking about the merits of its existence or whether this fixture has purpose as a State of Origin trial, pay no mind. Rather the focus of this match on Sunday afternoon should be the lovely people of Mudgee and the resurgence of Country Rugby League. With inferior codes determined to destroy our regional breeding grounds, the work done by the NRL in Mudgee this week has been tremendous and long may it be continue.
Also, trying to understand the selections and how they relate to NSW jumpers is confusing the hell out of me so I've chosen to ignore it and focus on footy.
So, with the Country team set as mid-week favourites and boasting a superior forward pack, halves combo and backline, I'd say they have every chance. Having the Morris twins in such good form and Todd Carney showing all kinds of class this year, the boys from the bush will win and win well. Keep an eye on Michael Weyman as he reminds NSW selectors why he is one of the best and as always in City v Country, there is a surprise performer who shines unexpectedly... This year, if he gets time on the field, Mitchell Allgood is my pick as he shows why club form gives no guarantees for rep form.