Michael Burgess ' Opinion

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Set of Six: Warriors on song

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Willie Mason could make a return to State of Origin. Photo / NZPA
Willie Mason could make a return to State of Origin. Photo / NZPA

The Warriors had spent plenty of time downplaying their 11-game, 268-day losing streak, saying the eight games last season were irrelevant but the length of time between wins was highlighted by the fact many of the players had forgotten the words to their victory song following their 20-18 defeat of the Cowboys on Monday. "Great to sing the victory song even if we forgot it," hooker Nathan Friend tweeted. It didn't seem to matter. Apparently it was one of the most vigorous renditions in recent memory.

2 SBW watch

Being in the newspaper game, we know Sonny Bill Williams sells but sometimes there's not much to report. A story earlier this week focused on his stats which "proved" he was close to where he was when he walked out on the game five years ago even though he had played only four games. Those stats, however, showed his average minutes, touches, offloads, runs, metres and tackle breaks were down. He is tracking well on try assists, tackles and missed tackles and is well ahead on newspaper column inches and air time.

3 Noyce situation

Talk about awkward. Steve Noyce has been brought into the troubled Sharks as their football manager and one of the first things he's been charged with doing is getting Todd Carney's signature on a new contract. That's the same Steve Noyce who sacked Carney from the Roosters after a series of alcohol-fuelled indiscretions in 2011.

4 Game of the week

Titans v Broncos, tonight 9.35pm

There is plenty riding on this one, with the Titans the top dogs in Queensland while their higher profile northern counterparts sit near the foot of the ladder. The return of Scott Prince to Skilled Park will make headlines and the former Titan will need to lead the way with Sam Thaiday suspended. The Broncos have traditionally dominated this clash (having won six of the last seven matches) and showed signs of life in a spirited performance against the Storm. The Gold Coast will be aiming for their fourth consecutive NRL win, for the first time since 2009.

5 Stat of the week

The Warriors are outsiders against the unbeaten Rabbitohs but at least have history on their side. They have had more success against the Bunnies than any other NRL side (18 wins in 25 matches). They have won four of the past five clashes and their last loss to Souths at Mt Smart was in 2009.

6 Big Willie back for NSW?

Willie Mason is being considered for a shock Origin recall. Less than 18 months ago Mason was playing rugby for Toulon, who hoped he might be a replacement for Sonny Bill Williams. That didn't eventuate but his rise up the league ladder has been swift since his NRL return in 2012. The 32-year-old Mason, who last played for the Blues in 2008, is understood to be on the radar of coach Laurie Daley, especially if his forward options are reduced by the Asada inquiry.

Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

Read more by Michael Burgess

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