Set of Six: Naked ambition

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James Maloney. Photo / Greg Bowker
James Maloney. Photo / Greg Bowker

1. Naked ambition

Nathan Friend is one of the NRL's most prolific tacklers (he's effected 932 so far this season) but the opposite can be said when it comes to scoring tries. He is, in fact, in danger of performing the ninth nude run (a punishment for remaining tryless in a season) of his career, which would put him first equal in first-grade history. Clarrie Jeffreys (1954, 57-68) tops the list with nine. Todd Lowrie and Dominique Peyroux are the only other Warriors who are tryless among players who have appeared in more than 10 games.

2. Game of the Week

The stakes are incredibly high for a number of teams jostling for the top eight but, for sheer quality, it's hard to go past tonight's Rabbitohs v Roosters match. The winner will claim the minor premiership and top spot heading into the playoffs as well as send out a statement ahead of the finals. Souths have rediscovered their form after a recent lapse appeared to derail their title credentials but the Roosters go in on the back of consecutive defeats (under the grand final format, no team have ever lost their last three regular-season games and gone on to win the competition).

3. Grey skies clear

Sky TV has won the rights to screen every game of the upcoming World Cup. It didn't look promising at one point, with money the main issue, and league fans in New Zealand might have been faced with the prospect of limited coverage on Maori Television. The tournament kicks off on October 27 (NZT) when Australia tackle England at the Millennium Stadium. The Kiwis begin their World Cup defence against Samoa on October 28 in Warrington.

4. MAGs in turbo

For a lot of players at this week's national secondary schools tournament, an NRL contract is the big prize (NRL scouts frequent the tournament every year in search of fresh talent) but the title is also up for grabs. Yesterday, Mt Albert Grammar, coached by former Warriors skipper Steve Price, knocked out perennial winners St Paul's 16-12 in the first semifinal and Kelston downed Otahuhu 18-14 in the other. MAGs will be playing in their first final and it has been 10 years since Kelston last won the title.

5. Tomkins guarded

Sam Tomkins has remained so tight-lipped over his future it would be hard to know if he even has teeth but the England fullback this week signed a two-year deal to promote a mouthguard brand in Britain. It's just not clear if he will be around to fulfil his obligations. It's widely expected Tomkins will join the Warriors next season but it's dragged on so long some are starting to doubt if he's coming to Mt Smart Stadium. Tomkins has steadfastly refused to discuss the matter.

6. Maloney gets the boot

His humour doesn't sit comfortably with everyone and now the NRL have decided James Maloney's habit of throwing the boots of opposition players into the crowd during games is no laughing matter. The Roosters five-eighth last month hurled Blake Ferguson's boot into the crowd and last weekend Kevin Gordon's boot was also flung into the stands - Gordon played on for five minutes with only one boot. The NRL have decided it's a safety risk for fans and players. How about unsportsmanlike?

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