Justis Kamu looks at the standout issues in the NRL from the past week.
1. Doubt is growing over unimpressive McClennan
Brian 'Bluey' McClennan was a popular coaching appointment for the Warriors in August last year.
He fitted the bill almost perfectly - he was a Kiwi, had started his playing career in New Zealand, coached highly successful teams in the domestic scene, Super League and a 2008 Tri Nations triumph.
The only fault in his CV was that he had no prior NRL involvement.
Fast forward 12 months and it appears that lack of experience has shot the Warriors in the foot.
His coaching performance has been far from convincing.
He inherited a grand final losing side, added tackling machine Nathan Friend and breakout star Konrad Hurrell to the lineup.
Yet the Warriors a staring down the barrel of being out of playoffs contention with a month to go if they lose against the Cronulla Sharks this weekend.
What's a huge concern is that Bluey's supposed best attributes were his skills to motivate players to perform.
Only the likes of Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Konrad Hurrell have played with any sort of inspiration this season.
Some of the team's headline acts James Maloney, Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson and Manu Vatuvei haven't been anywhere near their best.
On the weekend his coaching ability took a huge hit by re-introducing a limping Hurrell back in the game against the Sea Eagles.
It ultimately cost the side the game as Steve Matai used his opposite's obvious weakness to set up three tries.
It was the second time in two weeks that Warriors capitulated to let a certain win slip from their grasp.
If last week was a must win for the Warriors, this week's clash is a do or die situation.
For Bluey a victory over the Sharks will hold off a growing number of doubters for another week at least.
2. Should the NRL introduce a coach's challenge?
After being on the wrong end of officiating gaffes this season, the Sharks (both Shane Flanagan and players) are calling for the NRL to introduce an American Football /NFL style coach's challenge.
The latest blunder occurred on the weekend in their golden point loss to the Penrith Panthers when a short Panthers kick off appeared to fall before 10m line before bouncing out.
Surprisingly the officials called Panthers ball.
In the ensuing set of six, Michael Jennings went on to dot down to tie up the game before Luke Walsh struck the golden point winner.
A NFL challenge system would significantly improve the accuracy of refereeing decisions in the game of league.
It basically works that if a coach is uncertain over a referee decision he can challenge the call to try and overturn it.
If the coach is correct then the call is overturned in his team's favour, however if the referee's call proves to be right the opposing team will get the ball and receive a penalty.
As with any technological addition there are also disadvantages that need to be considered, how long will it prolong the game, does it take away from the natural aspects of referee decisions.
However it ensures that there are more accurate calls for referees, and also means less bickering from coaches and players post-match because a controversial call has stood.
The positive effect will trickle down to fans as well who will cause less commotion over dodgy referee decisions that are corrected.
As we have seen in the NFL or cricket the challenge system is not completely fool proof, although adding it to the respective sports has proven to do more good than harm.
3. What's with Panthers manager Phil Gould commentating on Panthers matches?
Channel Nine's production management should seriously reconsider the use of Phil Gould to call matches featuring the Penrith Panthers.
Gould is general manger at the Western Sydney club and in charge of football operations, working closely with Ivan Cleary to get the Panthers back to its former glory days.
In round 20 the Panthers beat the Sydney Roosters 24-18 at CIA Stadium with Gould calling the match alongside Peter Sterling and Andrew Voss.
Simply put, Gould should only call games that do not feature the Panthers.
He's certainly an asset to Nine's commentary team and his pre-match Origin spiel consistently sets the tone before the big games.
But to call a match featuring his team hits too close to home.
Imagine if Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah was mic'd up alongside Stephen McIvor at Mt Smart stadium calling the game.
Just wouldn't seem right would it.
4. Cream of the crop talent rising to the top
One thing that Bluey can't be criticised for is his belief in the young talent coming through the Warriors Toyota Cup system.
This season he has introduced Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Sam Lousi, Sebastian Ikahihifo, Omar Slaimankel and Carlos Tuimavave makes his debut this weekend.
They have all been a part of the successful 2010 and 2011 Toyota Cup sides over the past two years.
Their progression to first grade highlights the good work at the club to ensure that the best young talent in New Zealand rises through to the professional ranks.
Ikahihifo on the weekend debuted for the Warriors and didn't look out of place in first grade.
The Mangere East junior displayed his excellent motor and energetic ball carry in his 39 minute stint at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Ikahihifo will feature more prominently in the Warriors plans in 2013.
One player who will take on a major role at the club next year is Tuimavave the current five-eighth for the under 20's.
With James Maloney on his way to the Sydney Roosters in the new year, Tuimavave (nephew of former Warriors Tony and cousin of Evarn) is being tipped to take up the other spot in the halves next to Shaun Johnson.
Johnson and Tuimavave were the seven and six combination in the 2010 Toyota Cup triumph which also featured Elijah Taylor and Bill Tupou from the current squad.
5. Your comments
The Warriors are already streets ahead, as a club, than any union franchise in the country.
While it's true the on field performances have been less than acceptable, they still manage fantastic turnouts at whatever venue they play. Besides the Chiefs (this year), hardly any other Super Rugby franchise in NZ has had consistent crowd support.
- I concur that the Warriors are a well-managed club who are giving the union franchises are run for their money. The Chiefs brand of football this year has been pretty to watch and with SBW in the side his presence only adds another draw card. His absence next year could make the side a one hit wonder both on and off the field.
Mt Smart stadium has overwhelmingly been given the thumps up by fans over a move to Eden Park or anywhere else in Auckland. With O Glenn and E Watson bankrolling the joint, some exciting projects will emerge over the next few years.
It's an easy thing to throw out stats right now, but it's for the safety and well being of the players 10,20,30 years down the track that's the concern.
NFL are now coming to terms with their failure to regulate - just look at the brain bank that their players are setting up. And they wore helmets.
I, in no way, want the removal of the Shoulder Charges but safety should be paramount. It is brutal but I wouldn't have it any other way.
- Agreed, player welfare in any contact sport is paramount. The recent death of NFL great Junior Seau has put all contact sports on notice as to the fatal outcome of one receiving knocks to the head
However it's impossible to prove that there will be perfect safety in league due to head knocks without shoulder charges. 10, 20, 30 years down the track we don't know what the ramifications will be for players running around during this age.
In saying that, it would be helpful to the discussion if league players from yesteryear (when shoulder charges and spear tackle were both in play) came forward to present their case as to its ill effects.
Just wondering if the same rule applies for kids league?
- No the rule does not apply in New Zealand at any level of the game from mini-mod to Fox Memorial. The NZRL laws of the game section 3.5 named 'Dangerous Tackles' has 'shoulder charge' under 3.5.3. It reads that "the use of a shoulder charge in effecting a tackle is not permitted and offenders will be penalised."
6. Team of the week - round 21
1. Fullback - Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
2. Wing - Brett Morris (Dragons)
3. Centre - Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
4. Centre - Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)
5. Wing -Akuila Uate (Knights)
6. Five-eighth - Lachlan Coote (Panthers)
7. Halfback - Daly Cherry Evans (Sea Eagles)
8. Prop - Adam Cuthbertson (Knights)
9. Hooker - Nathan Peats (Rabbitohs)
10. Prop - Brent Kite (Sea Eagles)
11. Secondrow - David Taylor (Rabbitohs)
12. Secondrow - Ben Creagh (Dragons)
13. Lock - Reni Maitua (Eels)
Coach: Michael Maguire (Rabbitohs)