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1.NSW coach Ricky Stuart isn't afraid to gamble.
Stuart said last week he needed to take risks to end Queensland's State of Origin dominance and he lived up to his word by selecting Michael Jennings out of the NSW Cup and an out-of-form Jarryd Hayne in his Blues side. He also picked Tony Williams despite him not having played a match for almost two-months due to suspension while youngster Jamie Buhrer won the utility spot on the bench despite yet reaching 50 games in the NRL. The big question remains whether Stuart's huge gamble will pay off. If it doesn't then the Blues boss will be forced to answer some very hard questions.2. Cronulla are genuine premiership contenders.
The Sharks proved over the opening nine rounds they are a club that is capable of making the finals but Sunday's win over Melbourne is now emphatic proof they can win the whole thing. It wasn't just the fact they knocked over one of the competition heavyweights but the way they hung in and grinded out the victory in the absence of skipper Paul Gallen that is most impressive. Sharks coach Shane Flanagan hinted after the match that he hoped the win would mean other teams now take his side more seriously. Message received, Shane.3. The Knights are struggling
After starting the season full of hope and anticipation under new coach Wayne Bennett, Newcastle are proving to be one of the real disappointments of 2012. It's not just the fact they are down in 12th place with only four wins for the season, it's been the lacklustre and uninspiring manner of their performances which is of most concern. Injury to key players Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus hasn't helped their cause but they have enough talent in the squad to be offering up better fair. Star fullback Darius Boyd is seriously struggling for form while Jarrod Mullen is yet to fire in the halves. Bennett has pleaded for patience to give him time to mould the side into his style of play but club owner Nathan Tinkler isn't renowned for sitting back and waiting for things to change.4. If Channel 9 secure the NRL's TV rights in the next broadcast deal, they must be forced to show all games live.
The game's chief rights holder gave fans another jab to the stomach over the weekend by showing both games of Friday night's double header on delay. When the telecast went to air the opening game between Brisbane and Manly was almost at half-time yet we were still forced to endure the usual pre-game guff. While ads were kept to a minimum during the match, it's still an embarrassing situation that such a big clash between two of the competition heavyweights which turned out to be the game of the season so far couldn't be seen live in the traditional rugby league states. It's just not right that when viewers in Sydney and Queensland were watching David Williams cross for the match-winning try the Sea Eagles were already on the bus heading to the airport to fly home. If things don't change then maybe another network deserves an opportunity to show the game.5. There's still some fight in the Eels but they just can't concentrate for 80 minutes.
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