Set of Six: Carney the key for NSW

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Todd Carney. Photo / Getty Images
Todd Carney. Photo / Getty Images

Justis Kamu looks at six issues in the NRL this week, including why Manu Vatuvei shouldn't be given special treatment and which Warriors reject could came back to haunt them.

1. Carney has Maroons on edge
If there is one player that the Queenslanders will closely watch in tonight's Origin opener its Todd Carney. Some will be disappointed with Jamie Soward's omission but in Carney NSW have a stand-off equal to Jonathan Thurston's ability.

It's arguable whether he even deserves to still be in the NRL with the number of chances he's had to sort out his off the field behaviour. However one thing that can't be faulted his playing ability. He has the x-factor to pull off something spectacular when his team needs it most - in Origin its moments of brilliance that separate the two sides at the end of 80 minutes.

A skilful playmaker, with top-end speed, his contribution to tonight's game will heavily influence NSW's fortunes in a series they are desperate to win.

2. Plenty of Petero left in the tank
Hearing that NSW are going to target Petero Civoniceva in tonight's Origin match is a big mistake. Thinking that they will run the old man down by sending the lighter and supposedly more mobile pack his way appears in theory to be the correct approach to take.

However it's difficult to recall the last time the 36-year old front rower had a subpar game in the Maroons jersey, to think that he's the weakest link in their armoury is terrible underestimation of his powers. Over the years, he's proven time and time again, that despite his age and battered body the Queensland prop's experience and determination should never be underrated.

A rock for the Maroons, watch for big Petero to deliver a vintage performance in tonight's Origin opener.

3. Vatuvei's fumbles can't be excused
We all love Manu Vatuvei. He's the marquee player at the Warriors, adored by fans on both sides of the Tasman and a genuine superstar of the game. But his error count is too high to ignore. Vatuvei's gaffes haven't stopped since round one against the Sea Eagles with the count at 24 (errors) in ten games.

His latest blunder proved costly as Beau Ryan scored from his own kick to level the scores and set up the Tigers second-half fightback for the win. Warriors' coaches have been particularly tolerant with their prized winger, refusing to let the axe fall on him.

Krisnan Inu wasn't given this luxury, and Vatuvei's indifferent displays shouldn't be either. It's time that he was sent to the NSW Cup to justify his place in the run-on side.

4. Unfortunate break for Tariq Sims
The rising star of North Queensland has fallen to his second broken leg in as many seasons. You have to feel for the young backrower who will sit out the remainder of the season. Sims began his season with hiss and a roar as his all action style of play was rewarded with the 18th man position on for NSW.

He resembles a young Sonny Bill Williams in his approach to the game. He flies in with shoulder charges, has the ability to free his arms for the offload and likes to get into the face of his opponents.

Arguably the best young forward in the NRL, North Queensland won't be short of replacements with Kiwi Jason Taumalolo and Scott Bolton both reliable replacements.

5. The maturing Issac Luke
He's still the street-smart kid from Hawera who exploded on to the NRL scene five seasons ago under coach Jason Taylor. Regarded as one the most electrifying hookers out of dummy-half, Luke arguably has been the form hooker in the competition after Cameron Smith - no easy feat.

The firecracker attitude still remains, but now playing the full 80 minutes, he is the glue that holds the Rabbitohs forward pack together. A more patient and less erratic figure has unearthed this season at Souths with Luke relishing the added responsibility that comes with playing more minutes under new coach Michael Maguire.

With Michael Crocker on the wrong side of 30, the 25-year-old rake wouldn't look out of place he was given the captain's armband in seasons to come.

6. Warriors discard proves handy for premiers
Liam Foran was released by the Warriors in 2009 without getting on to the field. After failing to impress as Stacey Jones' understudy the former Junior Kiwi was cut midseason and it looked as though he would be lost to reserve grade football in Sydney. Big things were expected of the him after coming out of the Melbourne Storm development school and being on the fringe of their first team.

Fast forward three years and the older Foran has quietly emerged as a competent replacement for his brother Kieran at Manly. Not as flashy with the ball as Kieran or spectacular on defence, Liam's strengths lie in his kicking game and on the field organisation of his troops. He's proven to be a capable assistant for Daly Cherry Evans as the Sea Eagles wrapped up their fourth win on the trot and secure fourth on the ladder.

Team of the week - Round 11
1. Fullback - Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
2. Wing - Andrew Everingham (Rabbitohs)
3. Centre - Kane Linnett (Cowboys)
4. Centre - Konrad Hurrell (Warriors)
5. Wing - Jason Nightingale (Rabbitohs)
6. Five-eighth - Benji Marshall (Tigers)
7. Halfback - Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)
8. Prop - Aaron Woods (Tigers)
9. Hooker - Isaac Luke (Bulldogs)
10. Prop - Keith Galloway (Tigers)
11. Secondrow - Dene Halatau (Bulldogs)
12. Secondrow - Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs)
13. Lock - Joe Galuvao (Sea Eagles)
Coach: Tim Sheens

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