Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round eight.

 With more video referee controversy this weekend (see Slater, Billy and Graham, Wade), transparency from officials continues to be a hot topic. Former player and now designated ex-player video referee official Matthew Rodwell was on Sky Sports Radio on Monday outlining the reason for the decision related to the Billy Slater try against the Raiders in the Storm’s loss to Canberra. It’s fantastic to have this level of transparency but it needs to be consistent. If Rodwell is prepared to outline a reason for a decision that is terrific and that’s fine for fans of Melbourne and Canberra but what about fans from other matches who want controversial points explained from the on-field referees. Transparency in great but consistent transparency is better.

All the talk about Souths’ great start to the season has seen the majority of the focus on backs Greg Inglis and Nathan Merritt but the work-rate of 80 minute player Sam Burgess has been exceptional. Burgess reeled off 39 tackles plus 18 runs in the 24-20 victory over Brisbane on Friday evening for Michael Maguire’s men. The workhorse lock is similar in vein Tohu Harris and also Ryan Hinchcliffe in such a role at Maguire’s former side, the Storm, but they are lock in number only, acting as a third prop ala Paul Gallen.

Will injuries be more of an equalising factor leading up to the Origin period? Traditionally we have seen sides like Melbourne and Brisbane ‘gutted’ with withdrawals over the eight weeks or so of the series. Those sides and others have lost players for part of the time or had them more ‘banged up’ than usual coming off three days between games. But season 2013 is shaping as one in which sides likes the Dragons and Tigers lose maybe one or two players in this time, not the four or five of the Storm or Broncos,  but are already depleted by terrible injury tolls. Both sides have been affected by injuries (particularly strike players in their backlines) to a level not normally seen. Wests, especially, have lost almost an entire backline worth of talent.

Just when people were thinking the top eight was set before the start of May, round eight threw up some unexpected results. The wins for the Raiders and Bulldogs suggested a run of victories is possible for those sides and given they won’t be that decimated by Origin selections to the extent some others sides will, it will make for an interesting period for two of last years’s top eight sides.

Away from the NRL, news from Tasmania is that a further side has been added to their state-wide rugby league competition with the North West Coast Titans added to the mix next season. Good luck to the Titans club.

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