Justis Kamu looks at the great turnout from the Warriors match in Wellington last week along with the other key talking points from the last round of matches.
1. Capital a hotbed for talent
The Warriors 24-16 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday night - highlighted three things:
(1) The Warriors are going to finish in the bottom half of the NRL ladder
(2) The Bulldogs forwards are going to roll the majority of the sides in the competition
(3) Wellington love their league
The great turnout, 30,000, and the enthusiasm throughout the week in the lead-up to the match did much to prove that an NRL side in the capital is a reasonable step in the next five years.
The hotbed of talent in the Wellington region is screaming for an NRL side to keep their teenagers in the city rather than having to move to Australia or worse (for some people) to Auckland.
At least 40 players in the NRL played spent time in Wellington's junior development - Sika Manu, Sam Tagatese, Ben Matulino and Alehana Mara to name a few.
A Wellington side would transform the game of rugby league in the country, creating more opportunities for young players in league communities in the South Island such as Christchurch and Nelson and even Dunedin.
Also the Kiwis side will be stronger as they effectively have two NRL sides in the country creating pathways to the international arena via the most exciting competition of 'rugby' in the Southern Hempishere.
The NRL is oversaturated in the Sydney market and the ARL commission is looking at pressing down a national footprint in Australia.
But before they do that they must be reminded that Perth and Adelaide have both tried and failed to operate league sides with the Western Reds and Adelaide Rams respectively.
Wellington city has been champing at the bit for regular NRL action.
As was seen on Saturday night, the great game is loved in the windy city, a 'home side' that is truly their own would give them that extra impetus to enjoy the game.
2. Goodwin rising to Kiwis squad
The rebirth of Bryson Goodwin in the South Sydney Rabbitohs will please Kiwi fans.
The Kiwis international, despite his father being a former Kangaroos international is finding a home for himself in the Rabbitohs backline.
Goodwin played in the 2009 Four Nations Tournament on the wing for the Kiwis and appeared in all three games in a tournament which the Kiwis finished third.
Now playing at centre for the competition leaders, Goodwin is making the most of his opportunity in his new role playing showing plenty of maturity in his decision making on defence.
Unwanted by the Bulldogs at the end of last season, he signed on a one year deal with his current club and has started eight games in 2013 scoring four times.
His resurgence back into the NRL spotlight will add competition to the Kiwis centres who were weakened with the defection of Steve Matai to Toa Samoa for the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC).
3. Benji dropped to bench
After enduring a six game losing streak the West Tigers have lost patience with star five-eigth Benji Marshall and have dropped him to the interchange bench.
It's about time that the Tigers took some action seeing as his form has been out of sorts for the majority of the season.
A tough decision nonetheless for coach Mick Potter knowing that dropping Marshall would add further pressure to a side who has severely been depleted in recent weeks due to the club's injury toll.
On top of that, the club face recording the worst losing streak in Tigers history if they lose this weekend against the competition front-runners the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
In dropping their star play-maker to the bench, the Tigers are left with an inexperienced pair in the halves with Liam Fulton standoff and Curtis Sironen at halfback.
What has been most discouraging for the man who hails from Whakatane is that alongside halfbacks Jacob Miller, Tim Motlzen and Curtis Sironen, Benji hasn't looked much better than his inexperienced partner(s).
If Benji is to continue down this track not only will his club role be in jeopardy, but a guaranteed Kiwis RLWC spot and $A 4m contract extension with the Tigers could both be at risk.
4. Sibling rivalry - best set of brothers?
The Rabbitohs 28-10 win over the Cowboys on Friday night was owed much to the forward dominance of the Sydney club over their Townsiville rivals. At the heart of the Souths pack was the damaging English brothers, Sam and George Burgess, who rumbled their way through a pack that included the Australian props Matt Scott and James Tamou. Sam scored his first try of the season, ran for 148m, broke six tackles and completed 20 tackles. His younger brother George made 173m and broke 11 tackles - a game high in both statistics.
In light of their exploits - here is a list of the four best set of brothers in the competition.
(1) Burgess brothers - (George, Luke & Sam)
These English monsters have terrorised the competition since day one of their time on the NRL field. They are remarkably mobile for their big frames - all weigh over 110kgs and stand over 190cm yet could play in prop or second row and in some cases lock. They have only appeared in pairs - Luke and Sam or George and Sam - Luke won't be returning till the end of the regular season. When he does get back he'll be pressing to join his brothers in appearing both in the NRL finals and in the Rugby League World Cup for England.
(2) Morris brothers - Brett and Josh (Dragons & Bulldogs)
The Morris twins aren't as reliant on their brute strength like their British counterparts to make a decisive incision into the defensive line. The Dragons juniors are blessed with speed and they have plenty of it to make 80 minutes terrible for their opposing centres. The NSW pair and Australian representatives have made it a habit to score tries with Brett scoring 92 tries in 138 games, and Josh playing 142 games scoring 81 tries respectively.
(3) Minichello brothers - Anthony and Mark (Roosters & Titans)
The 'Count' Anthony Minichello has come back to form strongly over the past couple of seasons after being at the peak of his powers in 2000-2007. He had three injury ravaged seasons before returning in 2010 to play his first full season and to this is an effective operator in the backfield. Mark a former Rooster and Rabbitoh is an NRL veteran with 207 games under his belt and is a foundational member of the Titans.
(4) Sims brothers -Ashton &Tariq (Cowboys) Korbin (Knights)
The Sims brothers will likely feature for Fiji at this year's RWLC. That will give the South Pacific side a huge boost in a side that will have a sprinkling of NRL professionals with the raw talent of local players. Although not as big as the Burgess lot the Sims family play in similar positions - all in the forward pack - on the weekend in the Rabbitohs v Cowboys it was 1 to England to 0 Fiji. Ashton, earlier in his career, was eyed as a possible NSW representative but that honour will now probably fall to his brother Tariq who should break through to State of Origin in the next two seasons.
5. Your comments
Always rated Henry, hes got good vision, ball skills and can tackle, unfortunately he does have mostly utility value, with Mateo wanting to stay and Jason Bukuya coming from the Sharks that doesn't leave him a spot in the second row and I doubt he'll get a centre spot over Hurrel or Neilson, be a shame if they had to let him go.
- That is the danger of shifting him around the side without a certain position. He needs to settle and play a season as a second rower not centre. As a forward he is very similar to Simon Mannering and Elijah Taylor - high work rate, minimal errors, strong defensively and with the bonus of having leadership skills. Jason Bakuya's arrival next season was needed to bring a dynamic ball runner to the mix of forwards at the Warriors. If Mateo stays Henry will likely will have to convince Matthew Elliott that he is worthy of a place off the bench. Unfortunately, he may have to seek playtime elsewhere if is to be regarded as a specialist second row.
Mate, mate why don't they play this 9's tournament in Aus where they'll have a better chance of getting a crowd. Oh I know the Jaffas wanna compete with the Wgtn 7's. Obviously they'll be marketing this at the party crowd rather than true blue leaguies. It'll take a few years to build an event like this into a credible alternative to the Welly 7's. 3 mil prizemoney is way over the top for an event with no credibility.
- If the NRL is to be relevant on this side of the Tasman Sea, a tournament in Auckland will help to grow the game. There a plenty of leaguies in New Zealand - not all Warriors fans by the way. It will be a great concept and if it gets off the ground and it will certainly attract fans who will get out to watch great athletes in their own backyard. This is not an alternative to the Wellington 7's, but rather a showcase for league in its own shortened form of the game. The NRL event has credibility if the top players (Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Shaun Johnson etc) are playing the game rather than sitting on the sidelines. The Wellington 7's is a great tournament but it features second tier players from participating countries.
6. Team of the week - round 9
1. Michael Gordan (Sharks)
2. Wing - Sandor Earl (Raiders)
3. Centre - Michael Jennings (Roosters)
4. Centre - Blake Ferguson (Raiders)
5. Wing - David Simmons (Panthers)
6. Five-eighth - Terry Campese (Raiders)
7. Halfback - Trent Hodgkinson
8. Nate Myles (Titans)
9. Hooker - Matthew Keating (Eels)
10. Prop - George Burgess - (Rabbitohs)
11. Secondrow - Greg Bird (Titans)
12. Secondrow - Kelepi Tanginoa (Eels)
13. Sam Burgess - (Rabbitohs)