One crucial question for beaten Broncos pack
Each week Robert Craddock looks at the big talking points coming out of the NRL.
1. PACK PROBLEM
The Broncos pack may have great potential but one crucial question is demanding an answer … who's the boss?
Among the most underrated players in rugby league are those big, gnarled, ugly 100-game international props who'd make you cross the street to avoid them if ever they came in your direction.
Think David Klemmer, Jesse Bromwich, Andrew Fifita, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and James Graham.
They might not win you premierships but it's hard to win a title without them for the big enforcers are shepherds as well as stars.
As solid as he is, Matt Lodge is 23, has played 38 NRL games and is learning on the job.
It's not an easy gap to fill.
2. TWEET TWIT
Peter Beattie can be proud of some decent work as an NRL commissioner but he snatches at things and tries to be too popular. Beattie's "good to see you are well Laurie'' tweet to the spoof account entitled "Laurie Nichols is God'' was just so avoidable, especially since Nichols (below left) died 19 years ago.
I don't buy the explanation it was a joke.
It was a case of having little knowledge being a dangerous thing, especially when it's mixed with a need to please and a spoonful of recklessness.
News that Beattie has shut down his Twitter account was a bit like hearing Donald Trump was off social media. He'll miss it.
3. ETERNAL SHAME
As harrowing as they were, rugby league needed to hear the stories of the women who were part of the game's sex scandals.
Tears flowed on Channel 7's Sunday Night show as several women told of how they were brutally exploited and treated like playthings. Too many women have suffered in silence and it's not until you hear their stories that you fully appreciate how their plight has been unfairly overlooked because of the focus on the follies of the players.
4. DOGS WITH NO BITE
Canterbury were dreadful in their loss against the Warriors and with seven to 10 players on back-ended contracts this year, they are in a complete mess.
Club officials who have tried to plug the holes left by the previous administration are expecting two more years of severe pain.
5. COVER UP
The rain which drenched Townsville during the Cowboys' opening game against St George Illawarra on Saturday only served to heighten the anticipation for the Cowboys' new stadium.
The wonderful stadium in the city centre will be open this time next season and fans drenched on Saturday will be under cover.
1. THE OLD FOX
When Wayne Bennett arrived at Souths he could have thought "I've been in this caper for 35 years so I'm not going to have my game plan dictated by the one-year coach who came before me''.
But, very shrewdly, he knew Anthony Seibold's up-tempo game plan was working nicely so he kept the bricks and mortar and added some subtle interior decorating before their opening win against the Roosters.
We also wonder whether Bennett had anything to do with the media leak of Greg Inglis' pre-season weight battle which could only have served to make Inglis start shedding some kilograms.
2. CONTRACT WARS
Rugby league may never fully appreciate how close it came to losing Kalyn Ponga to play AFL.
Take it as read that if Ponga had not made a spectacular first-grade debut for the Cowboys in an NRL final in September 2016, he was off to AFL on a five-year deal.
It was worth $3 million and only when Newcastle matched it did he stay in league.
3. THE BEAST
Jason Taumalolo's 301m rampage in the wet against St George Illawarra might just have been the NRL's greatest running game of all time.
Justin Hodges holds the record of most metres in a game with 346m against the Melbourne Storm in a Round 23 clash in 2006 but he was playing fullback and had much more clear air before hitting the defence.
Taumalolo was playing on the edge or in the middle and running into a brick wall every five to 10 metres. Amazing.
4. TOUGH TIGERS
Renowned task master Michael Maguire trained the Wests Tigers so hard in the off-season some players whinged the house down when they got home feeling 80 years old.
Suddenly they are grateful for the toil. A win over the embattled Sea Eagles is hardly cause for a street parade but they are fit and focused and we urge caution in tipping against them in the opening month.
You can bash it, trash it and tear it to bits … but you can't kill rugby league.
League may have had its worst pre-season with off-field scandals but after the record-breaking ratings success of the Storm-Broncos game on Thursday, the numbers stayed high for the next few days with Saturday's Cowboys-Dragons game attracting about 280,000 on Fox Sports.